Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Vault: Petr Nedved Sent to the Big Apple

Pittsburgh Penguins, Petr Nedved. Mandatory Credit: Ian Tomlinson /Allsport
Pittsburgh Penguins, Petr Nedved. Mandatory Credit: Ian Tomlinson /Allsport /

On, Nov. 18, 1995, The Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they had executed a trade with the New York Rangers, that involved Alex Kovalev and Petr Nedved. Here is a brief examination of the story behind the deal.

On, Nov. 18, 1995, The Pittsburgh Penguins announced that Left Winger Petr Nedved, Defenseman Chris Tamer, and Center Sean Pronger were traded to the New York Rangers in exchange for Right Winger Alexei Kovalev, Centre Harry York and $2.5 million in conditional cash.

From the naked eye, it appears that Kovalev was the intended target of the trade for the Penguins. After all, what would the motivation be to trade a player (Nedved) that put up 170 points (78 Goals, and 92 assists) in 154 regular-season games?

For Context

At the time, Nedved was embroiled in a lengthy contract dispute with Penguins brass. Reportedly the only deal Pittsburgh put on the table was a five-year deal worth $14 million dollars.

This would not be the first, nor the last time a contract would be a bone of contention for the Liberec, Czechoslovakia native. His career would be rife with them.

Negotiations went sideways pretty quickly between the Penguins and Nedved, resulting in Nedved electing to sit out the entire 1997-1998 season, where he would toil in a Czech League and sign with the IHL’s Las Vegas Thunder.

Similar Situation

A 1 hour and 20 min flight away in New York City, a Similar situation was brewing between the Rangers and Alex Kovalev.

The new Rangers regime including head coach John Muckler were beginning to feel Kovalev’s, production on the ice was not matching with his innate ability and began to question his motivation.

This would be Nedved’s second tour of action with New York. During his previous his first tenure in 1994-95, Nedved raised the ire of Mark Messier and Colin Campbell.

The Result was the trade that took place in August of 1995, which sent Luc Robitaille and Ulf Samuelsson from the Penguins to the Rangers in exchange for Nedved and Sergei Zubov.

The other team that showed interest were the Florida Panthers, who were offering Radek Dvorak, and other configurations of players and cash but nothing from the Gulf Coast ever materialized.

Only the Rangers seemed poised to accept the risk that accompanied Nedved.

Bleeding Cash

Further Complicating matters at the time was the fact the Penguins were bankrupt, bleeding cash, and needed some help fast.

The Penguins had filed for bankruptcy protection in October and owed creditors over $100 million dollars, with the franchise’s estimated value at the time to be $130 Million dollars.

Facing an arbitration hearing and being saddled with a huge contract was just something the Penguins could not afford to do. literally and figuratively.

Bones of the deal

Let’s take a look at how the deal unfolded.

The Rangers wanted to guarantee that Nedved would play for them. The two sides negotiated a 3-year deal worth about $4 million per season. Which was substantially less than the Penguins offered him the previous year.

Many felt that the season Nedved “sat out” diminished his value and lowered his stock. Good news for the Rangers, bad news for Nedved’s bank account.

The Penguins concessions included wanting the Rangers to pay all or some of Kovalev’s $1.5 million dollar salary, some of the $2 million dollars the Penguins owed Kevin Stevens and $4 million dollars in cash.

When the deal was submitted to the League offices for approval, Gary Bettman felt the four million in cash was a tad extravagant and told the teams to settle on a lower value. Which they did at $2.5 Million dollars, the final sum was conditional based on Nedved’s performance.

History would tell us that the cash injection from the Rangers was the linchpin to the deal. It kept the Penguins afloat long enough to secure more financing and begin the process to shore up the long term stability of the franchise.

The Other Pieces

Here is how the other pieces in the deal fared in their time with the Penguins.

  • Harry York – Would appear in 2 games for the Penguins before being claimed off waivers by the Vancouver Canucks.
  • Sean Pronger – (Older Brother of Chris Pronger) –  Appeared in 7 games for the Penguins over 2 seasons, Scoring 1 goal and earning 2 PIM
  • Chris Tamer –  Appeared in 253 Games for the Penguins over 6 seasons, adding 29 points (8 Goals,  and 21 assists) and 588 PIM.

What did you think of the Pittsburgh Penguins trade with New York? and who do you think had a bigger impact on the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nedved or Kovalev?

Drop them in the comment box below?