A trade is a personnel move in which two teams swap players or other assets in order to strenghten their respective teams. Uncommon in Europe, trades are, along with free agency and Entry Drafts, the major way for teams to acquire new players in North America.

Trades tend to be balanced, both teams giving what they agree to be of equal value in terms of players, draft picks or money. It often happens however that in the short, mid or long term, trades end up being lopsided as some players develop beyond expectations in their new environment, or on the contrary, plays well under their potential or the level at which they played for their former team. The trade that saw Markus Näslund being dealt from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Vancouver Canucks in 1996 for Alek Stojanov is considered a good exemple of this; neither player really stood out before the swap; however, Näslund emerged as a league leading scorer with Vancouver, while Stojanov only played 45 more unsuccessful NHL games before being demoted for good to the minor leagues.

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