30 Year Ago the Toronto Maple Leafs Traded for Mats Sundin

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs
Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs / Graig Abel/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs could be on the edge of making a significant move that alters the franchise with rumours circulating around Morgan Rielly and Mitch Marner, which could have the same type of impact that former general manager Cliff Fletcher had during a trade 30 years ago.

Known for his blockbuster moves, Fletcher had changed the Toronto Maple Leafs franchises with a six player deal in September 1991 with the Edmonton Oilers and then again in a ten player trade 15 months later with the Calgary Flames. However, the biggest impact deal came 30 years ago in June 1994 when the team acquired their franchise leading scorer Mats Sundin.

The Leafs were coming off of consecutive Conference Final losses in 1993 and 1994, while their captain, the heart and soul of their team coming off a career season that saw him pot 46 goals in just 64 games, while also setting a career high in points with 76.

The problem was, he missed 18 games due to injury which was consistent over his career as he had not played more than 70 games in a season since his sophomore year back in 1986-87.

30 Year Ago the Toronto Maple Leafs Traded for Mats Sundin

On June 28, 1994, the fans of the Maple Leafs mourned when Fletcher traded Clark, along with Sylvain Lefebvre and Landon Wilson to the Quebec Nordiques for former first overall pick Mats Sundin, as well as Garth Butcher and Todd Warriner. The two teams would also swap first round picks.

Many fans were infuriated with the thought that no guts no glory attitude of Clark was being traded. It would take some time for city to embrace Sundin the way they took to the kid from Saskatchewan, but eventually Sundin would win over the crowd.

It is shocking to think now why fans would not take to Sundin right away. Like Clark, he was also a first overall pick but five years younger and unlike the Maple Leafs captain, Sundin was able to stay healthy. At 23-years old, Sundin had already collected a 100-point season, as well as collecting 47 goals in 1992-93 while also playing in at least 80-games in each of his first four years.

The original repayment did not look great as the Maple Leafs would get knocked out in the first round of the playoffs for the next two seasons which were followed by two years of completely missing the extra season.

Sundin would eventually lead the team back to the playoffs in 1999 where he took the Maple Leafs back to the Conference Finals where they would eventually be knocked off by the Buffalo Sabres. He would then lead the franchise on a couple deep playoff runs, including another Conference Finals in 2002.

Mats Sundin Is the Most Underrated Maple Leaf of All-Time

When you initially look at the back of his hockey card you think that he was just a really good hockey player, not a franchise cornerstone as he averaged just over a point per game during his Maple Leafs career (987 points in 981 games). You would be wrong, as you would have to realize he never had a top end winger with him and played during the Dead Puck Era when scoring was the lowest it's ever been in modern times.

The best player that Sundin ever got to play with was Alex Mogilny who had joined the Maple Leafs past his prime during his early and mid 30s, while also being saddled with Jonas Hoglund as his top line wingman for four seasons.

Sundin would eventually retire as the Maple Leafs all-time scoring leader, while also serving ten years as the team captain.


The Doug Gilmour deal will always be known as the trade that turned around the Maple Leafs organization, but the Mats Sundin trade should be known as the greatest in team history.