The most impactful trade in both the Calgary Flames‘ and Dallas Stars‘ history took place in December of 1995, when Calgary sent Joe Nieuwendyk to Dallas in exchange for Jarome Iginla and Corey Millen.
Nieuwendyk, then captain of the Flames, was in the midst of a hold out, as he and the Flames struggled to come to terms on a contract extension to begin the 1995-96 season. Nieuwendyk’s credentials with the Flames show brilliance; he won the Calder Memorial Trophy as Rookie of the Year in 1987-88, in 1988-89 he led the team in scoring en route to winning the Stanley Cup, and he was a four-time NHL All-Star in his eight-plus seasons in Calgary.
Iginla was selected with the 11th overall pick in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. To that point, Iginla was enjoying a prolific junior career with the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League, culminating in back-to-back Memorial Cup triumphs as the top junior team in Canada. While Millen was an afterthought in the trade, Iginla was earmarked as a cornerstone player, someone Calgary could build their future around.
Nieuwendyk agreed to terms with Dallas on a five year, $11.3 million deal. While he suffered multiple injuries that resulted in various stints out of the lineup, his production remained high. Nieuwendyk played seven seasons in Dallas, registering 178 goals and 162 assists in 442 games. His greatest impact, however, came in the 1998-99 postseason, where his 11 goals and 10 assists helped the Stars’ franchise win their first, and only, Stanley Cup. Along with the Stanley Cup, Nieuwendyk took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs.
After his playing career, Nieuwendyk returned to Dallas in 2009 and served as the team’s general manager. This highlighted the respect the Stars’ organization had for Nieuwendyk and vice versa. After four seasons as general manager, Nieuwendyk was released from his duties.
Iginla started the 1996-97 season with Calgary, having finished out the 1995-96 season in Kamloops, and never looked back. He is the best player in the history of the Flames franchise. Iginla, who captained the team for 10 seasons, amassed 525 goals and 570 assists for 1,095 points in 1,219 games. He is the franchise leader in games played, goals and points. His personal trophy cabinet includes two Maurice ”Rocket” Richard Trophy’s, as well as an Art Ross Trophy, a Lester B. Pearson Award, a King Clancy Memorial Trophy, and a Mark Messier Leadership Award, amongst others. There is one trophy that continues to elude him, however, and was a major factor in him departing the Flames at the 2013 trade deadline — the Stanley Cup.
To look back nearly 20 years after that fateful trade in 1995, one can see how both organizations would be completely satisfied, if not ecstatic, with how the Nieuwendyk for Iginla and Millen trade turned out. Nieuwendyk played a monumental part in Dallas winning their only Stanley Cup to date. The prospect, Iginla, donned for the flaming ‘C’ of Calgary for 16 seasons, becoming their captain and best player in the mean time.