Mike Richter is one of the few goaltenders who has won a cup as a member of the New York Rangers. He famously played all 14 years of his NHL career in New York. From his rookie season in 1989-90 to his retirement in 2003, the Abington, Pennsylvania native played 666 games as a Ranger, posting 301 wins, 258 defeats, and 73 ties. He had 24 shutouts with a career .904 save percentage and a 2.89 goals-against average.
I can hear you already saying, “Wait, if he played his entire career with the Rangers, how is there a Mike Richter trade tree?” which is an excellent question. Do you remember the hockey world before the 2004-05 lockout? It was a weird place, there was no limit to the spending of NHL teams, and players had much less control over where they ended up as teams were awarded compensatory draft picks when losing players as free agents.
This was done away with in the collective bargaining agreement in 2005, but that didn’t prevent teams from exploiting it where they could. Funny enough, the Rangers actually did this twice. In their expansion draft, the Nashville Predators selected Richter’s pending free agent contract with no intention to sign him so they got a compensatory pick as the Rangers didn’t lose anything significant and kept their starting netminder.
But, that is a tale for a different time; for this one, we’re going back to 2002. During that summer, Richter was traded to the Edmonton Oilers for a 2003 4th-round pick. The Oilers got a 3rd round pick in the draft as compensation for the goaltender, but it technically made Mike Richter an Oiler for a day. Anyway, that’s the base of how it happened. Now, what happened with the pick the Rangers got?
That was used on Corey Potter. Potter played eight games as a Ranger, scoring a goal and an assist. He would actually spend the bulk of his career as an Oiler, but he was not traded by the Rangers. It’s a little bit of service from a pick they would not have had if Edmonton decided to decline this deal, but there was really no reason to not do this for either team as the Oilers moved up a round, and the Rangers got a free pick for it.
As for the Oilers pick that they got from the league as compensation for losing Mike Richter in free agency despite him never playing a game for the organization, they picked Mikhail Zhukov 72nd overall. He never played in the NHL and was never traded by the Oilers. This proves that even when you can scam the system a little, the draft lottery is nothing but magic beans.