Revisiting the Mike Grier trade, 20 years later

Zach Laing
1 year ago
Time sure flies.
It’s been a little over 20 years now since the Edmonton Oilers traded Mike Grier to the Washington Capitals.
He link to the Oilers was significant, however. He joined the team in an August 1995 trade that also brought Curtis Joseph to Edmonton from the St. Louis Blues.
Going back the other was a 1996 1st round pick that the Blues used to select Marty Reasoner, who would later join the Oilers in a 2001 trade, and a 1997 1st round pick that was dealt to the LA Kings.
Grier broke into the league with the Oilers in 1996-97 and had a strong rookie season. He scored 15 goals and 32 points in 79 games cementing himself as a physical presence and a producer. His best season in Edmonton came in 1998-99 when he scored 20 goals and 44 points in 82 games.
Come the 2002 season, however, Grier began to find himself the odd-man out on the Oilers’ right-wing. Dan Cleary had a strong came and was lobbying for more ice-time as was Georges Laraque. In the top-six, Ales Hemsky and Anson Carter were locked in.
In turn, the Oilers dealt Grier to the Washington Captials. Coming back were 2nd and 3rd round picks in the stacked 2003 draft. The 2nd was later dealt to the New York Islanders, while the 3rd was used to draft Zack Stortini.
“A number of guys performed well in camp and gave us the confidence to be able to make a move like this,” said then-Oilers GM Kevin Lowe. “Going into camp, you never know what’s going to transpire in terms of the production from players and I thought we had a great camp. We had guys who really stood up.
“Having said that, when you move a guy of Mike Grier’s ability, even though he had a rough year, you always run a risk. He could easily score 20 goals in the league again and be a good two-way player.
“But I think we made a hockey move that’s not going to hurt the organization and hopefully one that will strengthen it down the line.”
Grier went on to play eight more years with the Caps, Buffalo Sabres  and San Jose Sharks. He retired after the 2010-11 season having scored 162 goals and 383 points in 1060 games. He never did find his 20-goal touch again.
The trade, however, wasn’t received well by all — especially Laraque.
“It’s like I’m losing my teacher,” he said. “Mike was so nice, so polite in the dressing room.
“I don’t ever recall him losing his temper with a teammate. Lots of times, teammates get on each other’s nerves. Nobody ever got on Mike’s nerves.”

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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