Pie in the sky? That’s how Chris Bosh initially reacted to the possibility of Miami’s Big Three – but after several weeks measuring and considering, I think I can envision several deals that could make it work.
- Deal Luongo, Bieksa, Burrows, and Sauve for Price, Gorges, Plaknec, Markov, and Gianota
I would take this deal if I were GM in Montreal, as these guys I’d be receiving would be an ideal fit for this team, especially Luongo. Despite his turmoil, he just might rebound playing in his home province. His larger-than-life personality and pedigree is certainly a better fit than Price though. Bieksa is a perfect fit for the Montreal blueline, as is Burrows on one of the top lines. And Sauve is a good young blueliner with perhaps even more upside than Gorges. Meanwhile, Montreal can afford to lose Plaknec, Markov, and Gianota, who are becoming expendable with the arrival of Subban, Galchenyuk, Gallegher, or Pietrocetty.
Meanwhile, Vancouver will land BC boys Price and Gorges, as well as several other guys who will be dealt off in further trades.
- Deal Schneider to Tampa Bay for their first-rounder
Tampa’s main need: goaltending. An elite netminder like Schneider should complete their team and get them contending for the Cup again. He is certainly worth a third overall pick.
- Deal Kesler and Markov to Detroit for Datsyuk and Gustavsson
Detroit has managed to shed age from their roster, but now is high time to deal Datsyuk, who still is going strong but isn’t getting younger. He’ll be better playing for a younger team in need of veteran leadership.
Landing Michigan-born Kesler will further change the personality of the Wings, who can shed more age and get a little grittier up front. In Markov, they will land a capable playmaking blueliner who can help make up for Lidstrom’s absence.
- Deal Gianota, Datsyuk, and Vancouver’s first-rounder to Buffalo for Hodgson and their first rounder (sixth overall)
I think this deal could make sense for Buffalo, who could use some veteran leadership alongside their youth. Datsyuk particularly would be a near-perfect complement to Vanek with his two-way prowess, veteran experience, and playmaking ability – certainly a lot better than Hodgson.
- Deal Hodgson, Tanev, Gustavsson, Tampa’s third overall to Edmonton for Nuget-Hopkins
Won’t get any trade for Nuget-Hopkins easily at any rate – this is a deal that I would probably edit, possibly add other players or picks to soften Edmonton’s hand. With this current deal, they would get Hodgson, a very underrated centre who could at best almost make up for Nuget-Hopkins, plus Tanev, a blueliner with potential, as well as a goaltender who can further bolster the back end. That may or may not be enough, so this trade is still subject to revision.
- Deal Sedin twins plus conditional to Phoenix for Ekman-Larsson
This deal makes sense because Phoenix already has Yandle and more blueline prospects (like Brandon Gormley), but they sorely need top-line forwards. The Sedins fit the bill – if they can acquire them and sign them long-term, things are off to a good start.
- Deal Plaknec, Ekman-Larsson, Ballard, and Buffalo’s sixth overall to Nashville for Weber
Meanwhile, Vancouver gets Weber!
Lastly, I would hire Lindy Ruff, who is much better at running an offensive game.
When all is said and done, Vancouver’s top line of Schroeder-NH-Jensen could be one of the best lines in the league – in my books comparable to Kane and Toews in Chicago. This line packs skating, intelligence, vision, puck skills, and even underrated two-way prowess and grit. Any one of these guys can be a 50-goal threat next season.
Providing Edler can rebound from his recent funk, he could form a dominant top pair with Weber. These guys can outdo the Keith-Seabrook pairing in Chicago with their intelligence, leadership, and all-round play and can be 30-minute guys.
Price is perhaps the most talented goaltender in the league, but he’s been in over his head in Montreal. Hopefully it would be different playing in his hometown Vancouver. Playing behind a Weber-led defense, he’ll only need to preserve leads, but if he can reach his full potential, he’ll be better than Luongo or Schneider and can steal games himself.
Overall, the BC-born Big Three should form a formidable core moving forward. Of course, it will be the second-liners (led by Gaunce, full roster to come) and role players who would make the difference between winning and falling short. But even with this cap hit, I think it can be done.
Yes, there are a lot of trades here – and many of you will automatically write off certain deals, saying it’ll never happen, or that maybe I’m too generous on other trades. All I’ll ask is that we can have a constructive discussion on how we can make these deals happen – edit these trades over if they’re too high or too low. Or if you could suggest something better or more realistic (like forgetting about going after Weber and settle for landing Ekman-Larsson), then share it by all means. But please, no pessimistic mud-slinging, no “this will never happen,” or anything like that.