Traditionally contending teams will load up at the trade deadline hoping to make a run at a championship. Generally, if your run is successful, then it doesn't matter what you gave up, right? In the NHL, I think that people hold the Ray Bourque trade, as well as the Joe Nieuwendyk/Jarome Iginla trade in these regards. They both resulted in Stanley Cup championships, so what assests you spent are inconsequential.
In the last few seasons here in 'Dub country, we've seen some blockbusters as well. A few that stick out are:
Brayden Schenn & a 3rd - for two 1sts, a 2nd, a 1st round import pick, and two prospects. The Blades were swept in the 2nd round that year.
Carter Ashton & and a 3rd - for two players, a 1st, a 2nd, and a 5th. They won a round that spring.
Cody Eakin - for a roster player, 4 prospects, a 1st, 2nd, and a 3rd. That 8 assets for one guy, although he helped power the Ice past the 'Hawks in the 2011 WHL Final.
We've seen some risky trades here locally over the last few years as well - folks have mixed emotions about the Marcel Noebels trade: those 1st's could be really valuable, but the league may have taken them away anyway. Is making Game 7 of the league finals success?
See also: The Cam Reid trade.
This season, you had trades like the Oil Kings giving up a 2nd for half a season of (local product) Trevor Cheek, as well as a good D man + a 1st for David Musil.
Kamloops gave up a 3rd & a 5th for Sam Grist, as well as picking up Joel Edmundson & a 4th - for a roster player, a 1st, and a guy taken in the 1st round last year.
Spokane gave up a 3rd, a 5th, and two players for Alessio Bertaggia.
There's a pattern here: none of these teams had the horses to run with Portland.
This brings us to the WHL Champion Portland Winterhawks. They made no trades all season, aside from finding a home for Cam Lanigan. Obviously the big trade was the Seth Jones deal: two 16's that have shined for the 'Tips, an 18 D man who they are happy with, and a NCAA player that neither team was likely to sign.
Referring to the above discussion, it may not matter what the 'Hawks gave up - as they have now won the franchises 3rd WHL championship - and are in the hunt for the Memorial Cup. That being said, Jones looks like a steal compared to the Shenn or Eakin trades, doesn't it?
I was concerned at the time, as they gave up quite a bit in the Noebels & Reid deals. However, if you look at the players in that deal: Betker wasn't going to make this team as a defenseman - we have good D men who can't crack the lineup as is. Same story with Sandhu & Skapski: the last thing the Winterhawks need is more promising 16's up front that you can't find ice time for. Remember, the rotation they ran all year trying to get these guys shifts? We saw a 16 year old forward score game winners in 4 straight games, only to be healthy scratched the next game. There was no room at the inn for the guys that were sent to Everett.
Just for fun, lets assign the picks lost in the sanctions to the Jones trade. One could look at it like they gave up those 4 assets, in addition to five 1st rounders.
(Once upon a time the St Louis Blues thought it was worth five 1sts for Scott Stevens, but that's a different story)
Upping that to 9 assets, is the Jones trade that much more costly than the Shenn or Eakin deals? Are they in the same ballpark? I would argue they gave up quality assets, but ones that they could not use - so what the 'Hawks gave up had very little value to Portland. Throw in the sanction picks, and you may have a price closer to what Jones was worth.
Especially if they go out and bring home the Memorial Cup.