Mike Sillinger is a name that almost every hockey fan knows, but it’s not for reasons you might think. He didn’t rack up any major accoldes and had a pedestrian career, racking up 240 goals and 548 points in 1,049 games. So, why do people know Sillinger?
It’s because in a 17-year NHL career, Sillinger played for 12 different franchises. For that reason, and that reason alone, his name is synonymous with the idea of an NHL journeyman. Drafted in the first round, 11th overall, by the Detroit Red Wings in 1989, Sillinger went on to suit up for the Red Wings, Ducks, Canucks, Flyers, Lightning, Panthers, Senators, Blue Jackets, Coyotes, Blues, Predators and Islanders. You could say he’s well travelled.
However, even though he played for so many teams, he was only moved at the trade deadline twice in his career, in 1999-00 from Tampa to Florida and the following season from Florida to Ottawa. But thanks to yesterday’s trade deadline, there are now a couple of players who are sneaking up on Sillinger’s NHL record as the player who suited up for the most teams.
There’s a four-way tie for fifth place, and it’s several veterans who fill the spot.
Cullen, 38, is one of those players that has been sneaky-good throughout his career. A useful depth center, Cullen has racked up 219 goals and 621 points in 1,199 games played. He was a second-round choice, 35th overall, by the Anaheim Ducks in 1996 and broke into the league the following season. After five and a half seasons in Anaheim, Cullen has since played for the Panthers, Hurricanes, Rangers, Senators, Wild and currently plays for the Predators.
Malhotra is another guy who has made his living off of being a depth player, but he hasn’t been near as prolific as Cullen. In 987 games, he has 116 goals and 294 points, suiting up for the Rangers, Stars, Blue Jackets, Sharks, Canucks, Hurricanes and Canadiens along the way. At 34, there’s likely not much tread left on the tires for Malhotra, especially coming off of his horrible eye injury just a few seasons ago. He has one goal and three points in 54 games for the Canadiens this season, the lowest totals of his career.
Unlike Malhotra and Cullen, Torres made his name as an energy player with a little offensive upside who wasn’t afraid to mix it up. He was drafted fifth overall by the New York Islanders in 2000 and has turned in 635 games in 12 years. After leaving the Islanders, he spent time with the Oilers, Blue Jackets, Sabres, Canucks, Coyotes and Sharks. Torres has missed all but five games in the last two seasons due to a knee injury and recently went under the knife to have a new ACL put into his knee.
O’Brien is the only defenseman of the lot, but his career looks as though it may be on the back nine. He began his career with the Anaheim Ducks after the team drafted him in the eighth round of the 2003 draft, but became best known during his two years on the Vancouver Canucks blueline. In 536 career games, he has played for the Ducks, Lightning, Canucks, Predators, Avalanche, Flames and Panthers. He’s only played in eight games this season for Florida, however, spending almost the whole season in the AHL.
4) EIGHT TEAMS: Jordan Leopold
Leopold broke away from the pack on Monday when he was dealt from the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Minnesota Wild, but that was actually the second time he had been dealt this year.
On Nov. 15, Leopold was sent from the St. Louis Blues to the Blue Jackets, which means nearly half of the franchises he has played for have come this season. Add to it that Leopold becomes an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and he might be one team higher by next season.
Like all of the players on this list, Leopold is here because many teams have seen his usefulness, but he’s never been the key cog in the machine. He’s not a Norris Trophy candidate, but rather a steady defenseman that shows a few moments of brilliance. He can skate well and move the puck well, too, which has become such an asset it has allowed him to bounce around the league.
In 677 games, he’s scored 67 goals and 213 points, suiting up for Calgary, Colorado, Florida, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, St. Louis, Columbus and, now, Minnesota. It could have been nine teams for Leopold already, but he was traded to Calgary two years after being drafted by the Anaheim Ducks 44th overall in 1999. He had never skated in a game with the Ducks.
3) EIGHT TEAMS: Jaromir Jagr
It’s hard to believe a legendary player like Jagr has bounced around so much, but the nature of his current tenure in the NHL has been to sign a one-year deal, test the waters and then move on if he thought he was better suited to play elsewhere. Before being dealt to the Florida Panthers ahead of the trade deadline this season, Jagr’s stay in New Jersey was the first time since 2011-12 that he had played for the same team in back-to-back years.
After spending the first 11 years of his career in Pittsburgh, the Jaromir Jagr NHL Tour officially began. He spent the next three seasons in Washington, was traded to New York and remained a Ranger until he left for the KHL in 2008-09. After three seasons in Russia, Jagr came back to the NHL and has since played for the Flyers, Stars, Bruins, Devils and Panthers.
In his 1,532-game career, Jagr has racked up 717 goals and 1,786 points and, if hockey were to use baseball’s Hall of Fame rules, he’d go into the Hall of Fame as a Pittsburgh Penguin.
With the way Jagr’s career has gone – and that he’s been able to remain productive – could mean his options are open once again next season. He could probably play a two more seasons if he wished, so 10 teams isn’t out of the question. And if those teams fall out of the playoff race, maybe he becomes a late-season rental. Jagr may catch Sillinger yet.
2) NINE TEAMS: Dominic Moore
Moore doesn’t stand out as a guy who would be on this list, but sure enough his nine-year career has taken him to nine different cities.
In 665 games, he has played for the Rangers, Penguins, Wild, Maple Leafs, Sabres, Panthers, Canadiens, Lightning and Sharks. After being selected 95th overall by the Rangers in 2000, he’s back as a Broadway Blueshirt once again.
What has made Moore one of the most well travelled players in NHL history is that he’s just about the ideal player when it comes to depth centers. He can chip in offensively – he’s got 79 career goals and 222 points – and he can play a defensive game if needed. He’s a smooth skater, doesn’t need top line minutes and, generally speaking, comes relatively cheap.
He’s 34, though, and signed for another year with the Rangers at a $1.5-million cap hit. By his 35-year-old season the Rangers could be tight to the cap, which might make him expendable if New York looks for cheaper options. If they do that, he’s as good a candidate as any to move on. At that point, he’s likely to move on to team number 10.
1) TEN TEAMS: Olli Jokinen
When Jokinen was talked about as the best player in the NHL that simply needed to get out of a bad situation in Florida, no one could have predicted that leaving the Panthers would mean seven teams in the next seven seasons.
Since 2008-09, when Jokinen was dealt in the offseason from the Panthers to the Phoenix Coyotes for Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton, he has gone on to play for the Coyotes, Flames, Rangers, Jets, Predators, Maple Leafs and was traded at the Monday deadline to the Blues.
What’s often forgotten about Jokinen’s career, though, are the first three seasons. Selected in the first round, third overall, by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1997 draft, Jokinen played two years with the Kings before being moved to the New York Islanders in a trade that brought Zigmund Palffy the other way. Then, after a 11-goal, 21-point season in New York, he was packaged with Roberto Luongo and sent to the Florida Panthers for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha.
If you add the Kings, Islanders and Panthers to Jokinen’s extremely nomadic last seven seasons, you get a grand total of 10. Even crazier is that Jokinen, who is having by far the worst season of his career with just three goals and seven points in 54 games, will be a UFA in 2015-16 once he’s done his rental duty with the Blues. If he doesn’t perform, he’ll be looking for yet another deal, and landing another NHL deal would put him one shy of Sillinger’s career mark.
So, who wants Jokinen next season?