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January 7, 2012 | 4:23pm ET
It was a good idea, at the time
 Tab Bamford takes a look at a four-player trade that took place in the summer of 2001.

CHICAGO, IL -- On paper, this was larceny. A summer trade was taking a player that had emerged as a superstar to a major market for relatively little (read: next to nothing) in return.

Going to the bigger market in the United States was a bona fide star. Once the second overall selection in the NHL Entry Draft, this center was coming off an 88-point season (including 40 goals), and had scored 152 goals in his previous four seasons. At 28, he appeared to be in the middle of his prime and was the first Russian to be a full-time captain in the NHL.

But after a couple of contract disputes that indicated the relationship was going sour, the superstar had to be traded.

In exchange for this elite superstar, headed to Canada were two players and a first round draft pick. The team he was joining was coming out of a bad season in which their leading scorer posted only 62 points, and their top two goal scorers had 46 goals combined.

One player, a 26-year-old forward who had been a ninth round draft choice, had posted 26 points in 60 games the previous season. He had scored 35 goals for two organizations in three seasons in the NHL.

The other player involved in the deal, a 23-year-old defenseman who had been a third round selection, had nine points in 82 games during the previous season. The defenseman had combined to post a minus-54 rating in the two seasons prior to the trade.

Again, on paper, this deal was as one-sided as could be.

Now fast forward to 2011.

The superstar forward that was the centerpiece of the trade registered 290 points. In 346 games before his attitude was so bad he was bought out of a long-term contract. He hasn't played in the NHL since 2007. What's worse, he'll be on the books -- while playing in Russia -- until 2015... when he's 42 years old.

The players and pick he was traded for?

The forward had eight assists in 70 games in the season after being dealt, the only season he played for the team acquiring him in the deal. He had shown very little in the NHL before the trade, and contributed next to nothing after the deal was consummated.

As for the defenseman, he apparently figured things out after being dealt. After posting only 29 total points in parts of four seasons before the trade, he saw his production improve to 23, 39, 41 and 43 points, respectively, in his four seasons with his new team.

His plus minus jumped dramatically as well, never finishing a season lower than plus-17, and he eventually left for a big-money contract in 2006. He has played in five All-Star games and won a Norris Trophy and Stanley Cup championship since the trade.

The draft pick was used on a forward who has been solid as well. He has played in one All-Star Game (to date), and has 572 points (including 206 goals) in 566 games.

At the time, the pieces headed back north in exchange for the superstar were suspect at best. However, looking back now it's easy to say the New York Islanders grossly overpaid when they dealt forward Bill Muckalt, defenseman Zdeno Chara and a first round draft pick that eventually became Jason Spezza to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Alexei Yashin.

Obviously, Spezza will be at the 2012 All Star Game in Ottawa, and Chara will probably be there as well.

Meanwhile, Yashin is still hitting the Isles' cap for over $2.2 million.

Tab Bamford is a Columnist for and the Chicago Correspondent for The Fourth Period Magazine.



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Nov. 01, 2011 Early season surprises
Oct. 28, 2011 The trade that kept Belfour in Chicago
Oct. 25, 2011 It's a young man's game
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