Top five Oilers in-season trades: No. 5 — The Bill Guerin deals

Photo credit:Edmonton Oilers
Zach Laing
6 months ago
The soup de jour in Oil Country these days is trade talks. After a sluggish start to the season, the Oilers are in a position where they should be active in the trade market. That inspired me to look back at some of the biggest in-season trades in Edmonton Oilers history. 
Starting the series at number five are both of the Bill Guerin trades.
When Guerin is talked about in Edmonton, it’s often about his play with the team, where he roared up and down the Oilers’ wings with a ferocious tenacity, or about how the team traded him away in 2000.
But his start in Edmonton had come years prior, when on January 4th, 1998, the Oilers traded away Jason Arnott and Bryan Muir to the New Jersey Devils, bringing in Guerin and Valeri Zelepukin.
The Oilers, who nearly traded Arnott to the Islanders for two first-round draft picks at the prior annual selection of rookie, pulled the trigger when they did after a sluggish start for the young centre iceman. Arnott had just five goals and 18 points through the first 35 games of the season, a significant decrease from the 95 goals and 221 points he put up in his first four years.
Guerin, four years Arnott’s senior at 27, had been stuck in a bitter contract dispute with Devils GM Lou Lamoriello, that spilled over to a rabid fanbase pouring down boos. He only inked a deal on Nov. 21 of that season, shortly after demanding a trade when the season started.
“Even though I pushed for it, I’m shocked,” Guerin told the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson after the deal. “Call me stupid for wanting it or asking for it. But that’s just the way I felt. It’s happened, so I’ll live by it. I think it will be good for me at this point of my career.
“I needed a fresh start.”
He took advantage of it, enjoying some of the most successful years of his career. He would quickly wear an “A” in Edmonton and was a beloved figure on some scrappy Oilers squads famous for playoff battles with the Dallas Stars.
He and linemate Doug Weight would become close friends, still inseparable to the day, with both continuing to speak fondly of their brief, memorable times in Oil Country.
But as was the case for the Oilers at the time, the books were tight, and they couldn’t afford to keep him in town. The Oilers, like they did acquiring him, made a sharp trade, setting them up for years.
On November 15th, 2000, the Oilers traded Guerin to the Boston Bruins for forward Anson Carter and first and second-round picks in the 2001 draft, later used to select Ales Hemsky and Doug Lynch.
Carter would enjoy three years in Edmonton before similar financial woes forced him out in a trade to the New York Rangers. Hemsky would enjoy nearly a full decade in Edmonton, before riding out the final years of his career in Ottawa, Dallas and Montreal. Lynch, meanwhile, was a key piece in the Oilers’ 2005 acquisition of Chris Pronger.
We all know how that went.
All in all, both Guerin swaps helped make the Oilers better not just in the short-term, but in the big picture, too.

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@thenationnetwork.com.

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