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Random Trade #150: John Grahame for a Fourth Round Pick

Sometimes, I get a wild idea in my head and then I run with it. This time, I wanted to pick some random trades out of Tampa Bay Lightning history and write about them, no matter if they were a big trade or a nothing trade. According to ProSportsTransactions.com, the Tampa Bay Lightning have made 306 trades during the course of franchise history. I used the Google Random Number Picker with a minimum of 1 and maximum of 306 and hit Generate. For this entry, it came up with 150.

The Trade

The 150th trade in Lightning history occurred on January 13th, 2003. The Lightning acquired goaltender John Grahame from the Boston Bruins in exchange for a 2004 fourth round pick.

The Pieces

John Grahame

There is a Grahme family legacy to keeping pucks out of the net. John’s father Ron was also a goaltender. Ron won an NCAA championship at the University of Denver and then added a WHA Championship with the Houston Aeros. Ron played 143 games in the WHA and 114 games in the NHL over eight seasons, playing for the Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, and Quebec Nordiques along with the Aeros of the WHA. John’s mother Charlotte is also involved in hockey and has been the Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Colorado Avalanche since 1995-96. We’ll get back to Charlotte in the moment, because that’s actually pretty neat.

Their son, John, was originally a 9th round draft pick by the Boston Bruins in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. He would play the next three seasons at Lake Superior State University before turning pro. After a couple of seasons with Providence in the AHL he made his NHL debut with the Bruins in the 1999-2000 season. Unfortunately for him, the Bruins had quite a stable of young goaltenders, including Tim Thomas, so he was soon available for trade.

As for the Lightning, they were looking for a reliable back-up for Nikolai Khabibulin. General manager Jay Feaster told the Tampa Tribune^,

“We felt that we needed an upgrade at that position…and we feel that if we are going to be serious and be the playoff team we want to be, we recognize that we have a number of back-to-back situations coming up and Nik has carried a heavy load already.”

Up until the point of the trade Kevin Hodson had been Khabilbulin’s back-up. The affable goaltender had appeared in 7 games and posted an 0-3-1 record with a 2.54 GAA and .881 SV%. He would be assigned to Springfield after the trade, effectively ending his NHL career.

When traded to the Lightning, Grahame had played 23 games for the Boston Bruins in 2002-03 with a 2.71 GAA and .902 SV% with a 11-9-2 record. Grahame became the back-up to Nikolai Khabibulin and would played 17 games for the Lightning with a 2.09 GAA and .920 SV%. He remained the back-up for the Lightning in 2003-04, playing in 29 games with a 2.06 GAA and .913 SV% with am 18-9-1 record, serving as the back-up throughout the playoffs for the Lightning as they won the Stanley Cup.

When John Grahame’s name was engraved on the Stanley Cup for the 2004 championship, he and his mother Charlotte became the first, and thus far only, mother-son to have their names engraved on the Cup. Interestingly, Charlotte’s name was included on the Cup for the Avalanche’s 1996 and 2001 Stanley Cup championships, but was not included for their 2022 victory.

After winning the Cup, and then not playing during the 2004-05 lockout, Grahame became the starter in Tampa Bay after the departure of Khabibulin. In 57 games, he posted a 3.06 GAA and .889 SV% with a 29-22-1 record. He also played in one game for Team USA at the Olympics. The Lightning made it into the playoffs, but were eliminated in five games in the first round by the Ottawa Senators. Grahame left after the 2005-06 season as free agent to the Carolina Hurricanes.

In total, Grahame played 103 games for the Lightning with a 53-36-9 record with a 2.61 GAA and .900 SV%. He would also appear in six playoff games for the Lightning, posting a 1-4 record, 3.42 GAA, and .883 SV%.  It was not a clean departure for Grahme. In his last appearance for the Lightning, a 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators in Game 4 of their first round series, coach John Tortorella did not mince words about his goaltender’s performance*,

“It’s a tough thing, 16 shots and four goals…It’s a couple of quick goals. It is what it is, it’s a surge. We need a [gosh darn] occasional save when that happens. Johnny is trying like hell, but four goals on 16 shots. I’m really tired of the 25 percent rule.”

2004 4th Round Pick

The Bruins traded the pick to the San Jose Sharks the day of the 2004 draft in a package with a 3rd and 9th round pick for the Shark’s 2nd round pick, 63rd overall. With that pick, the Bruins selected David Krejci. I’d say that was definitely worth the price for the Bruins as Krejci has had a long and successful career with the Bruins as the 2nd center behind Patrice Bergeron. He came back to the Bruins and the NHL this year after spending a year back home in Czechia (which also allowed him to play in the Olympics, though he failed to medal) and should hit the 1,000 games played mark in the next month or so.

The most notable name from the three picks the Bruins traded away was Thomas Greiss, taken with the 3rd round pick by the Sharks. He has over 350 games played in the NHL and won the 2018-19 Jennings Award for the lowest combined goals allowed along with Robin Lehner.

One last funny bit to this trade; all three picks the Sharks acquired were used on goaltenders. The fourth round pick that was originally the Lightning’s was used on Jason Churchill. He was drafted out of the QMJHL and only played low level pro hockey after leaving the Q. To bring it full circle, the ninth round pick was used on Brian Mahoney-Wilson, a high school goaltender that eventually played four seasons at Lake Superior State University. Yes, the very same school that John Grahame played for. Mahoney-Wilson spent one year playing in the CHL in 2011-12 before retiring and becoming a goaltending coach.

^ “Lightning Make Trade, Add Depth at Goaltender”, Erik Erlendsson, The Tampa Tribune, January 14th, 2003, retrieved via Newspapers.com December, 19th, 2022

  • “One From Done”, Erik Erlendsson, The Tampa Tribune, April 28th, 2006, retrieved via Newspapers.com December 19th, 2022/
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