Nicholls had joined the Oilers less than two years earlier in October of 1991 when he was traded to Edmonton along with Steven Rice and Louie DeBrusk for Mark Messier and future considerations. And a couple million dollars, that came to Edmonton in the trade as well. This was actually the third time in three years that Nicholls had been traded; in January of the 1989/90 season he was traded for the first time in his career, moving from Los Angeles to New York.
Four seasons earlier Nicholls had become only the fifth player in NHL history to score 70 goals in a season when he scored exactly 70 in 1988/89, now he was on his fourth team in as many seasons. The problem? If those who wrote about it at the time are to be believed, attitude. From Cam Cole:
Bernie Nicholls? Here’s where they lose me. If you believe everything you’ve read about, and especially from, the Edmonton Oilers in the past few weeks, then you have to wonder why they want Bernie Nicholls. (Oilers coach) Ted Green has said that the best thing about the Oilers now is that they have a bunch of guys who really want to play here. Nicholls doesn’t. Green has talked about the importance of character and mental toughness. Nicholls, the Oilers have said for years, lacks both. They have talked about starting over with youth. Nicholls, like Messier, is 30.
Zdeno Ciger would play 204 games for the Oilers over the next three plus years, leaving for Europe after the 1995/96 season. Six years later he returned to the NHL playing five games with the Rangers and five more with the Lightning before ending his NHL career for good and once again returning to Europe for another couple seasons. Kevin Todd played 24 games for the Oilers during the 1993/94 season before being traded to Chicago for Adam Bennett who, like Todd, would also play just one season for the Oilers.
From Nicholls, to Ciger and Todd, to nothing in just a couple years. For a key piece in the deal that sent Mark Messier to New York that's not much. At least Pocklington got a couple million in the first deal.