Trevor Linden was drafted second overall in the 1988 Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks. He made his NHL debut that winter and scored his first goal on October 18 against the Islanders' Kelly Hrudey. Linden made an immediate impact at the NHL level, scoring 30 goals and helping the Canucks make the playoffs for the first time in three years. He won three Canucks' awards (Molson Cup, Most Exciting and Cyclone Taylor as team MVP), made the NHL's All-Rookie Team, was a runner-up for the Calder Trophy and was named The Hockey News' Rookie of the Year. In an exciting seven game playoff series against the eventual Cup champions Calgary, Trevor co-led his team with three goals and seven points. In 1989-90, Trevor missed seven games and scored 21 goals as the Canucks missed the playoffs. One year later, however, Trevor roared back with a 33 goal season to win four Canucks' awards (Molson Cup, Most Exciting, Cyclone Taylor and Cyrus H. McLean as top scorer) and lead the Canucks back into the playoffs. That year, he was named one of three team co-captains, participated in his first mid-season All-Star Game and led all Canucks' scorers with seven assists in six playoff games.
In 1991-92, Trevor was named the Canucks' captain and participated in his second All-Star Game. He finished the year with 31 goals, a team-high 75 points (his second Cyrus McLean Trophy) and pushed the team to a 31-point improvement to win the Smythe Division season title. In the playoffs, Trevor co-led the team with eight assists and led them to the second round of the playoffs. In 1992-93, Trevor scored 33 goals as the Canucks won a franchise-record 46 wins and 101 points to win their second straight Smythe Division season title. In the playoffs, Trevor scored 13 points in 12 games as the Canucks again played into the second round. In 1993-94, Trevor scored 32 goals and captained the Canucks to their third straight (and third ever) 40-win season. In the playoffs, Trevor first helped his team overcome a 3-1 deficit against the Flames to win the first round series on three straight overtime goals (Trevor provided the winner in game six on April 28). Trevor then guided his team to a Clarence Campbell Bowl victory (over the Maple Leafs in round three) before a thrilling seven game final series against the Cup champions Rangers.
In the shortened 1994-95 season, Trevor led the Canucks with nine power-play goals and won his third Cyclone Taylor Trophy. In 1995-96, Trevor scored 33 goals and set personal bests with 47 assists and 80 points. He won his fourth Cyclone Taylor Trophy, third Molson Cup and led the Canucks to their sixth straight playoff appearance. In 1996-97, Trevor suffered his first injury (knee on December 7) since his sophomore season, ending his consecutive game streak at 482. At year's end, he was awarded the King Clancy Trophy for his leadership role and off-ice humanitarian contributions as well as the Gillette World Champion Award as the Canadian athlete who best exemplifies excellence in sports and compassion and humanitarianism off the ice.
In 1997-98, Trevor was traded on February 6 to the New York Islanders for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan McCabe and a third-round draft pick. Less than one month later (March 3), he was named the Islanders' captain. In 1998-99, Trevor led the Islanders with eight power-play goals. On May 29, 1999, Trevor was traded to the Montréal Canadiens for a first-round draft pick. In his first season with the Canadiens, Trevor played only 50 games but scored 30 points and registered a 56.3 face-off percentage.
In 2000-01, Trevor won his first NHL Player of the Week honour on October 23 with an eight-point effort in just three games. On March 13, he was traded with Dainius Zubrus and a second-round draft pick to the Washington Capitals for Richard Zedník, Jan Bulis and a first-round draft pick. He finished the season with 37 points in 69 games.
In 2001-02, Trevor was traded on November 10 with a conditional second-round draft pick to the Vancouver Canucks for a first-round draft pick. In 80 games between the two teams, he scored 37 points. More importantly, he helped the Canucks turn things around to post just their fourth 40-plus win season (42) in club history. On March 26, he played in his 1,000th NHL game. In the playoffs, Trevor co-led the team with five points in six games as the team lost its opening-round match-up to the Red Wings.
In 2002-03, Trevor scored 41 points in 71 games as the Canucks posted their second-best win total (45) in club history. Trevor finished second on the team with a 16.4 shooting percentage. In the playoffs, he scored three points in 14 games. The team overcame a 3-1 deficit in the opening round against the Blues, only to lose in the second round against the Wild after taking a 3-1 lead.
In 2003-04, Trevor led the Canucks with a 14.4 shooting percentage as the team won their first division title in 11 years. On Feb. 16, Trevor played in his 897th game with the Canucks, passing Stan Smyl (896) for the franchise record in games played. On March 8, he scored his 674th point with the Canucks to again pass Smyl for a team record. In the playoffs, the Canucks lost in the opening round against the Flames.