Dubious Deals: Red Wings Trading Graves to Oilers a Killer

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There they were, three former Detroit Red Wings skating around the ice celebrating the 1990 Stanley Cup championship as members of the Edmonton Oilers.

Can you imagine what Red Wings General Manager Jimmy Devellano was thinking while watching that scene? It’s telling that, in a matter of weeks, Bryan Murray assumed the GM responsibilities.

Red Wings Make Moves

In one of his final big moves during an otherwise brilliant stint as GM, Devellano on Nov. 2, 1989, signed off on one of Detroit’s most dubious deals.

He sent a package of Adam Graves, Petr Klima, Joe Murphy, and Jeff Sharples to the Oilers for Jimmy Carson, Kevin McClelland, and a fifth-round pick in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft.


The deal certainly worked out for savvy Oilers GM Glen Sather.

Not so much for Devellano, however, who was still feeling the heat for trading away Adam Oates.

Best known today as the player traded for Wayne Gretzky, Carson collected 100 goals in parts of four seasons with the Red Wings, but McClelland scored just four goals in 64 games. The next season, Mclelland was a minus-4 in three appearances with Detroit, his last with the organization.

The Red Wings’ draft asset turned into Dmitri Motkov, a 6-4, 198-pound defenseman who was selected 98th overall. He played three seasons with Adirondack, the Red Wings’ former AHL affiliate, but never dressed for Detroit.

Meanwhile, in Edmonton, Graves started maturing into an NHL icon as the ex-Red Wings forwards combined to collect 16 postseason goals during the Cup run.

Before both moved on from the Oilers, Klima scored 118 goals over parts of the next four seasons and Murphy netted 69 goals over the next three.

Primarily an AHL-level defenseman, Sharples never dressed for the Oilers.

Graves: ‘Heart of a Ranger’

Agreeing to include Graves in the trade proved dubious, indeed.

Throughout his career, especially with his time as a member of the New York Rangers, Graves was lauded for his work ethic, dedication to the game, and off-ice charity events.

The Rangers, on Feb. 3, 2009, retired Graves’ No. 9 jersey.

During Graves’ retirement ceremony Sam Rosen, the team’s then play-by-play announcer, suggested his level of professionalism was “defining the heart of a Ranger.”

Imagine what Graves could have done during 1989-90 on the left-wing of Steve Yzerman’s line, or Bernie Federko’s (OK, enter joke here)?

Or, within two seasons, flanking Sergei Fedorov?

Too bad. His sweater is hanging from the wrong rafter.

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