What If Mats Sundin Was Never Traded to the Maple Leafs?

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TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 16: Mats Sundin #13 passes the puck past Paul Coffey #77 during the Hockey Hall of Fame Legends Classic Game at the Air Canada Centre on November 16, 2014 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Mats Sundin is rightly regarded as one of the greatest Toronto Maple Leafs ever. He’s currently the only Swedish born player to have 500 goals, as well as the current leader in overall goals and points for the Maple Leafs franchise. However, he didn’t begin his career in Toronto. Today, I’m going to examine a rather interesting question. What would have happened if Mats Sundin wasn’t traded to the Leafs?

What If Mats Sundin was never traded to the Maple Leafs?

Background

Mats Sundin was taken first overall by the Quebec Nordiques (now the Colorado Avalanche). He was the first European player taken first overall in an NHL draft. The same draft that had one Nicklas Lidstrom in it. He would spend three years in Quebec before being traded to the Leafs for Wendel Clark. He would spend 13 years there, and one in Vancouver before retiring in 2009.

Mats would score 568 goals and 785 assists for a grand total of 1353 total points.

But what would have happened if he hadn’t been traded? Or if he was traded somewhere else? Here are three possibilities.

He Stays With the Nordiques Until They Relocate

More likely than not, Sundin would have stayed with the Nordiques until they moved to Denver in the Mid 1990s. Can you imagine trying to stop a line up that had Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, and Mats Sundin as their top three centers?  All three either in their primes or about to hit their primes? That’s almost comparable to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors of the past. That lineup would have torn the league asunder and won Sundin at least one Stanley Cup before he retired. Of course, the now legendary rivalry between the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche would have even more hall of fame talent in it than there already is. Fedorov, Yzerman, Lidstrom, Roy, Sundin, Sakic, and Forsberg? Those games would have been even more intense than they already were.

He’s Traded As Part of The Infamous Eric Lindros Deal

The Infamous Eric Lindros draft saga left the Nordiques in quite the pickle in the early 90s. With the player, they intended to build the team around gone for quite the haul of prospects (one of which was Peter Forsberg). So, in order to sweeten the pot more, he goes to Philadelphia or New York as part of one of the craziest draft moments in NHL history. Maybe the Rangers steal him, so as not to have left that draft with nothing. (That whole saga was a mess and would require another article to explain, but it’s summarized here.)

He Gets Traded to the Red Wings

Okay, now this what if is a bit weird. As we established earlier, the Nordiques were in dire straits financially in the 90s. This was the primary reason for letting Sundin go in the first place. So who’s to say the Nordiques don’t let him go to one of the richest teams in the 90s in Detroit? This is essentially the inverse of him staying with the Nordiques until they moved. If he goes to the Red Wings then he probably stays there his whole career, Datsyuk doesn’t wear his now famous 13 for the team. In addition, he’s there for at least three of those Stanley Cups the Red Wing Machine won.

What do you think the NHL would be like if Mats Sundin was never traded to the Leafs?

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