When you start digging into the NHL's history books, things can get weird pretty quickly.
For instance, the trade that sent Erik Cole from the Dallas Stars to the Detroit Red Wings last Sunday marked the first deal between the two franchises in a very long time - so long ago that it wasn't immediately apparent when the last deal was.
According to the wonderful database at NHLTradeTracker.com, franchises hadn't made a deal since the majority of the current Stars roster was born. The last trade between the Wings and Stars/North Stars franchise was on Sept. 20, 1984, when Ken Solheim was acquired by the North Stars for future considerations.
That deal is an odd little story in and of itself. It actually worked out fairly well from the Minnesota perspective. Solheim played in 55 games the next season with eight goals and 18 points, but there never appeared to be any future considerations going to the Red Wings to round it out.
In fact, it looks like Solheim himself may have been the future considerations, as he was traded from the North Stars to Wings 18 months prior in 1983 for, well, future considerations.
And y'all thought future considerations were boring.
Digging through that trade history made me wonder about the history the Stars have with other franchises in terms of trade. Who have they traded the most with, and who the least? Armed with the above-mentioned website and a trusty spreadsheet, I tried to find out.
A few caveats here - this only covers the history of the franchise in Dallas and is as accurate as that database. There were a few quirks in there where it was obvious a trade was included twice (usually when it was following up with what future considerations actually were), and I tried to catch as many of those as I can.
Success/value of the trades is also not considered. A flip of a sixth round pick for two sevenths is worth the same as the Sergei Zubov-Kevin Hatcher or Mike Ribeiro-Janne Niinimaa flips. This is about quantity, not quality.
Given all that, here is the final tally:
This is the sum of 147 trades from the time the franchise moved to Dallas in 1993. The Tampa Bay Lightning, mostly on the strength of multiple moves from Brett Hull and Les Jackson in their short tenure, are the Stars favorite trading partner, though the teams haven't made a trade since 2009. Other favorites that are mostly built on previous relationships are the New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers.
All of those teams are in the Eastern Conference, which is not much of a surprise. Eighty seven of the Stars trades have been with Eastern Conference teams (as designated by what conference they were in at the time - remember, the Toronto Maple Leafs were in the Central Division from 1993-1998), or a little more than 59 percent. Nieuwendyk was the most likely of the GMs to trade outside of the conference while Doug Armstrong was the most likely to trade with other western teams.
Looking at individual GMs and working our way from past to present, Bob Gainey made 63 trades during his tenure, an average of 0.604 a month.
Here is how that worked out among franchises, with a note that a handful of these teams weren't around for the majority of his tenure:
Gainey's favorite trade partners were in the East - he alone is responsible for the Devils and Caps being among the Stars most prolific trade partners. Given my associations of him, I was surprised to see relatively few trades with Montreal over this span as well.
He's the hardest to parse for Eastern versus Western conference movement, since there was so much shifting during this time. As best I can tell, 58.7 percent of his trades occurred with Eastern Conference teams (Toronto was in the Central Division for both trades that happened during this stretch).
Gainey's successor, Doug Armstrong, is often remembered as very trade happy. But he actually sits dead in the middle of all five Stars GMs in terms of trade rate with 0.567 a month. He was also the most likely to trade within the Western Conference, with 45 percent of his trades happening to WC foes.
Here's his breakdown:
The Coyotes are the obvious standout, and the Blue Jackets were in the conference at the time as well. This was also the start of a long and fruitful relationship with the Lightning for the next few years.
Next up are the shortest tenured GMs of the bunch, Brett Hull and Les Jackson. Their 19 month stint as GMs is even shorter than Nills tenure to this point by nearly 100 days, and they were also by far the most active of the GMs at .637 trades per month.
They were also by far the least varied, falling in love with that Lightning connection. With such a short tenure, it's hard to really get a sense of their style, honestly.
They were followed by Nieuwendyk, by far the least active of the GMs on the trade front with an average of .45 per month.
The Florida connection is still going strong at this point, but it's shifted to the Panthers while the Stars relationship with the Lightning went away (the two teams haven't made a trade since the Hull-Jackson era).
Nieuwendyk seems particularly averse to trades within the division as well, completing just two over his tenure. That's the fewest of any of the GMs sans Nill, which makes sense given that he was also the least likely to trade within the conference.
And that brings us to the Stars current GM, who has been relatively quiet on the trade front with an average of 0.51 per month since he arrived from Detroit.
The biggest thing to note here, other than the trade with the Wings, is the lack of trades within the division. Some of that may just be coincidence - many previous intradivisional trades were small moves where a draft pick was swapped for a low-end prospect, and those opportunities may not have been there for Nill - but it certainly bears watching going forward.
Nill has shown himself to be willing to pull the trigger when the opportunity presents itself - there is no better example than the Tyler Seguin deal - but the Red Wings history is any indication, Nill may be a relatively inactive player in the trade market, at least relatively to previous GMs.
Over the same time period that the Stars made those 147 trades, the Wings made just 80. Since the lockout (the 2004-05 version), the Wings have only made 20 trades total while the Stars made 58 trades in that span.