As mentioned in yesterday's poll article, the Canadiens have made some pretty bad trades in the past. They have, however, also orchestrated some pretty great ones.
Incoming: Josh Gorges, First-round pick (Max Pacioretty)
Outgoing: Craig Rivet, fifth-round pick (Julien Demers)
Pretty amazing deal here. The Canadiens gave up an aging Craig Rivet for a solid blueliner 10 years his junior, and they even got a first round pick. They lost a fifth-rounder in the deal, but the Sharks would ultimately select Julien Demers with the pick, and he has never played a game in the NHL.
The man the Canadiens selected with the first-rounder, however, is now the captain of their team, and a perennial 30-goal scorer. At the time, it was a good deal because it made them younger on the back end, and in hindsight, it is even better because it led to the acquisition of the team's best pure scorer.
Incoming: Ken Dryden, Alex Campbell
Outgoing: Paul Reid, Guy Allen
Yeah, Ken Dryden was actually drafted by the Boston Bruins, but he never played a game for them. Funnily enough, neither did Paul Reid or Guy Allen, the two players sent to boston to get Dryden and Alex Campbell. The latter never played for the Montreal Canadiens, but I think that this one is pretty easy on the eyes considering what Montreal got in Dryden.
And that would be a six-time Stanley Cup winner, five-time Vezina Trophy winner, 1971 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Calder Trophy winner, and Hall of Famer. The Bruins got... Well, nothing. For Sam Pollock to have taken the Bruins for a ride like this is quite the feat.
3. Guy Lafleur
Incoming: Francois Lacombe, first-round pick (Guy Lafleur)
Outgoing: Ernie Hicke, first-round pick (Chris Oddleifson)
Yet another Sam Pollock Fleecing. The 1970-71 Canadiens won the Stanley Cup, but "Trader Sam" had his eye on two Québecois players that would be going at the top of the draft; Guy Lafleur and Marcel Dionne. So, he sent Ernie Hicke and the Canadiens' first-round pick to the California Golden Seals for Francois Lacombe and their pick.
He even made sure to orchestrate a trade to boost the Los Angeles Kings towards the end of the year to make sure the Seals finished last, so he'd have his pick between the two. Ultimately, he decided to go with Lafleur, and while some have suggested that Dionne might have been the better pick - he did have more career points - Lafleur wasn't exactly a wash-up himself. Five cups, and the Habs' all-time leading scorer. Not bad.
Francois Lacombe never suited up for the Canadiens, but the move was about building through the marquee draft player. For what it's worth, Ernie Hicke played a total of two seasons for the Seals, and Chris Oddleifson never played for them. This trade may have been what ended that franchise, but it was a great one for the Tricolore.
4. Robert Picard for Saint Patrick
Incoming: third-round pick (Patrick Roy)
Outgoing: Robert Picard
Robert Picard was a fine NHL player, a veteran of 899 games and 423 points. He was a decent player through parts of three seasons for the Canadiens, but his biggest contribution to the team came through being traded. arly in the 1983-84 season, the Habs flipped him to the Winnipeg Jets for their third-round pick in the 1984 draft.
It may not have even been a very popular trade at the time for many. The Canadiens lost a roster player for a middle-round pick, and there are never any guarantees with those. However, Picard was not a core member of the Habs at that time, so giving him up for a pick simply gave them an extra selection to work with in the offseason.
Sure, at the time this probably seemed like a nothing move. But the benefit of hindsight allows us to know about the two Stanley Cup wins for which Roy was the MVP. Great trade.
5. Lorne Chabot for Toe Blake
Incoming: Toe Blake, Bill Miller, rights to Ken Grivel
Outgoing: Lorne Chabot
When the Canadiens traded Lorne Chabot to Chicago in 1934, it wasn't a great move, because he ended up winning the Vezina with them in 1935. When they got him back though, he was beginning to get a little old, so they flipped him right away to the Montreal Maroons to get the seldom-used Toe Blake, among others.
Blake is of course remembered for being a part of the Punch Line; one of the most dominant trios in NHL history. He also won 10 Stanley cups with the Habs, both as a player and coach. Chabot suited up for a total of 16 games with the Maroons, going 8-3-5 before they flipped him to the New York Americans for cash.
For his part, Blake played 569 games with the Habs, scored 235 goals, and added 292 assists. Indeed, it was a masterful trade to say the least.
Of course, there have been many other great trades in Canadiens history. If you happen to feel that there is one that should be among my top-five, please let us know in the comment section!