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Revisiting the Bruins’ Cam Neely Trade with the Canucks

Cam Neely, born on June 6, 1965, in Vancouver, B.C., was selected by his hometown Vancouver Canucks with the ninth overall pick in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft after a standout season with the Portland Winter Hawks. Neely scored his first NHL goal in his third game and, by his second season, had netted 20 goals.

Despite showing promise with 51 goals and 104 points in 201 games, Neely’s tenure with the Canucks was marked by a minus-54 rating and 320 penalty minutes. His career took a significant turn on June 6, 1986, when he was traded to the Boston Bruins along with a first-round pick for Barry Pederson.

Neely’s Impact in Boston

General Manager Harry Sinden’s trade for Neely became one of the Bruins’ most significant moves. In his first season with Boston, Neely scored 36 goals and 72 points, including his first career hat trick. He excelled in the playoffs, scoring five goals in four games against the Montreal Canadiens. Neely went on to become the Bruins’ all-time leading playoff scorer with 55 goals and ranked third in career hat tricks for the franchise.

Neely’s success continued with 42 goals in 1988 and a career-high 55 goals in 1990, despite Boston losing to the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final. His career was unfortunately cut short by knee injuries after a collision with Pittsburgh Penguins’ Ulf Samuelsson. From 1991 to 1993, Neely played only 22 games but returned in 1993-94 to score 50 goals in just 44 games, earning the Bill Masterton Trophy.

Neely retired in 1996 with 344 goals, a figure surpassed by only a few Bruins players in the following decades.

Revisiting the Bruins’ Cam Neely Trade with the Canucks

The Canucks’ Perspective

The Canucks traded Neely and a first-round pick for Barry Pederson, a former first-round selection who had impressive early career stats. Pederson continued to perform well initially with the Canucks but saw a decline in productivity by 1988. He later won a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 before finishing his career with the Hartford Whalers and the Bruins.

The 1987 first-round pick Boston acquired in the trade was used to select Glen Wesley, who had a 20-season NHL career, including a Stanley Cup win in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes. Wesley’s contributions were honored with his number being retired by the Hurricanes.

Legacy and Historical Impact

In 2024, Neely serves as the President of the Bruins, a position he has held since 2010. He was instrumental in the team’s 2011 Stanley Cup win. Pederson is now a studio analyst for Bruins games, while Wesley has worked in player development roles, winning another Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues in 2019.

The acquisition of Neely in 1986 was pivotal for the Bruins, bringing a beloved player who became an iconic power forward. Neely’s career, though marred by injury, secured his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006, highlighting the significance of this trade in shaping the Bruins’ history.

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