Kris Draper's infamous deal for a $1 has always intrigued me. Why did the Winnipeg Jets deal this fantastic defensive center / 30 goal scorer / World Cup gold medalist / Team Canada Olympian to Detroit for nothing?
It just doesn't make sense. Unlike other guys who have struggled and picked up their careers in a new setting, Draper didn't really struggle. I've always thought perhaps Draper was in a Trevor Letowski-like situation and the team simply gave up on him. But further research shows this:
Draper was drafted in the 3rd round at 62nd overall. After being drafted, he went into the OHL and put up 61 points in 39 games and 19 points in 17 playoff games. He then went to the AHL and put up 29 points in 61 games as a rookie. He also put up a couple of points in 10 games in the NHL. The next year, he put up 35 points in 67 AHL games while playing great defense. He also played a bit in the NHL.
Then suddenly, for no reason, a 22 year old Kris Draper was traded to Detroit for nothing. At 22, Draper had great speed and played solid defense and put up respectable numbers. Why did Winnipeg give him up for free for no reason?
The next year, as a 22 - 23 year old, Draper put up 43 points in 46 games in the AHL and played 39 games (13 points) for the Red Wings in his first year in Detroit's system. After that, he became a bona fide NHL'er and won three Stanley Cups with the team.
I was living in Winnipeg back then. From what I remember he was actually a pretty lousy prospect at the time. He wasn't yet a great defensive player and his hands, though it is hard to fathom, were actually worse than now.
It doesn't explain the insulting 1$ sale price but he wasn't supposed to turn out so well. Bad asset management by the Jets... no mysteries there.
Ray Sheppard was also traded for $1 once. Basickally a "just take his contrackt" trade. No one would give up a late-round pick or long-shot prospeckt for them, so they were dumped off for "future considerations." WPG just thought he was going to be a regular AHLer for the rest of his career. Happens to hundreds of players who turn to be something after leaving a team really young ... most are let go by not offering them a new contrackt, this one just sticks out because there was an acktual return.
And Draper's never been a 30-goal scorer ... 24 is his high, and he's only hit 30 points three times.