One of my favorite things about playing EA Sports NHL hockey games was the ability to make the trades that my favorite team never would. Now, I'm not talking the absurd trades like Shawn Burr for Mario Lemieux, or Tim Cheveldae for Patrick Roy. No offense Burr and Chevy, but hockey is a business, you understand?
I was always able to battle through the rigors of an 82-game season and muster the gumption and resolve to hoist the Stanley Cup. But as my Sega Genesis and then Playstations 1, 2 and 3 can attest, I never loaded my rosters for the 82-0 season and 16-0 playoff. The bevvy of broken game controllers could also speak to that. (I swear Sega used to make those things out of paper mache so you would have to replace them once a month).
Assembling a legitimate roster when you have the omniscient powers of video gaming requires a considerable amount of thought. Many college classes skipped and just as many adult responsibilities shirked have resulted in one of the most savvy general managers that EA Sports has ever seen. Honey, where's the baby? Huh? Who? Just kidding, he's taking a nap....I think?
In the real world, the NHL general managers aren't so quick to pull the trigger on the blockbuster deal. Playing with someone else's money might have a lot to do with that, but it also has just as much to do with the fear of making a bad deal.
We all love to play "woulda, coulda, shoulda" and make deals as an armchair general manager, and that is exactly what this article is all about. Now, for those of you who take life a little too seriously, this might not be your cup of really serious coffee. Try to remember, these aren't deals that I expect to happen. But if they did, they would make the Rick Nash deal look like the Kris Draper deal. (No offense, Drapes)
I hope this will be as fun to read as it was to write.
The Deal: Philadelphia Flyers trade Ilya Bryzgalov, Sean Couturier and Jody Shelley to Anaheim for Bobby Ryan, Jonas Hiller and Sheldon Souray.
In a deal that makes all parties happy, the Flyers acquire Ryan and dump the long-term contract of Bryzgalov. Couturier was a hard piece to let go of, but the Flyers get a proven 30-goal scorer in Ryan. Hiller provides a solid option in net, and Souray is a big veteran with a mean streak.
Ryan's contract is the biggest one inherited by Philly, while Hiller and Souray will each be free agents in the next three years if they bust (unless Paul Holmgren signs them each to 14-year extensions).
Anaheim drops some big contracts, gets a young center with great potential and a goalie who has the potential to return to All-Star form. Bryzgalov could turn into the steal of the trade. His style and personality might be better suited for the left coast.
The Deal: Detroit Red Wings trade Valtteri Filppula, Johan Franzen and Cory Emmerton to Anaheim for Bobby Ryan and Luca Sbisa.
Detroit gets a power forward who will give 100 percent every night and a decent-sized defenseman who is an upgrade from Jakub Kindl while offering some blue-line depth. The Ducks get one of the top up-and-coming centers in the NHL in Filppula, who is heading into a contract year. Franzen is a super-talented, big winger who seems to be in and out of coach Mike Babcock's doghouse.
Cory Emmerton is a quick third-line center who needs more ice time at the NHL level, something he won't get in Detroit. Ken Holland might need to give up a little more to Anaheim considering the demand for Ryan. He could toss in another forward like Jan Mursak or Tomas Tatar, or even goalie Joey MacDonald to sweeten the pot.
The Deal: Calgary trades Jay Bouwmeester and Jarome Iginla to Detroit for Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, Cory Emmerton and Dan Cleary.
I promise this slideshow won't be all Detroit, but let's be honest here. The Red Wings do need some transactions to fill their roster and add depth before their season begins. The talks about Detroit going after Bouwmeester appear to be heating up, so why not take a swing for the fences and try for Iginla as well.
The forwards Detroit could offer are an upgrade for Calgary and more than replace Iginla's production. In addition, Franzen and Filppula could be reunited with former Red Wing Jiri Hudler. Calgary would be removing $13 million from the salary cap by dealing those two players and taking on $10 million with the four acquisitions, who have much shorter (except Franzen) contracts to absorb.
The Deal: Vancouver trades Roberto Luongo and Keith Ballard to Chicago for Dave Bolland and Nick Hjalmarsson.
Would there be anything more awesome and potentially dysfunctional than Roberto Luongo playing in Chicago? Maybe Boston? Cameras would zoom in on his face every time the Hawks scored to see if Bobby Lou has any residual facial tics or subconscious trauma from hearing "Chelsea Dagger" repeatedly.
Of course, Bolland would have to go to Vancouver in exchange so that he could be put on a line with the "Sedin sisters," as he so affectionately referred to them. Ballard and Hjalmarsson would be thrown in for good measure since they have both been mentioned in trade rumors.
The Deal: Florida trades Scottie Upshall, Tomas Fleischmann and Scott Clemmensen to Vancouver for Roberto Luongo and David Booth.
Probably no way that Vancouver makes this trade since Canucks GM Mike Gillis feels that his new backup goalie is worth Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in a trade. Florida would probably need to throw in another player, possibly Sean Bergenheim or Tomas Kopecky, to sweeten the pot.
Gillis needs to understand that there is a very limited market for his All-World goalie, and he should take whatever value he can get. Plus, Vancouver should provide a fresh market for Upshall to go bunny hunting, while Booth returns to South Beach.
The Deal: Phoenix trades Keith Yandle and Antoine Vermette to Detroit for Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula and Jan Mursak.
I promise this is the last slide involving the Red Wings, but the Yandle rumor to Detroit will have legs until a deal is made somewhere. Yandle has put up impressive numbers for the offensively repressed Coyotes and could flourish in Hockeytown. He's hardly Nicklas Lidstrom, but he's 26 in a month and could be a good complement to Niklas Kronwall's demolition style.
Franzen is a power forward who scores enough to have trade value, and Mursak is a speedy 24-year-old winger who is in need of some quality NHL ice time, which is rare with all the forwards in Detroit.
The Red Wings would have to sweeten this deal with Filppula to pry Yandle from the desert dogs, who could send back Vermette in return.
The Deal: Phoenix trades its entire roster to Toronto and vice versa for one week.
This idea was mentioned to me by another writer earlier in the season and I thought it was brilliant. The Coyotes deserve to play in front of fans that live and die with their every shift. Conversely, no team consistently lets its fans down more than Toronto's Leafs.
Switching venues for about a week would be amazing for each club and eye opening as well. The hard part would be convincing the fans of Toronto that their "real" team is coming back at the end of the week. Phoenix fans would probably respond with "Hockey?! Did you just sneeze? Bless you!"
The Deal: Los Angeles trades Jonathan Bernier, Dwight King and Kevin Westgarth to Toronto for Nazem Kadri, Matthew Lombardi, Colton Orr and James Reimer.
Toronto attempts to solve its goalkeeping issues with the acquisition of Bernier from the Kings. Reimer is thrown in because Jon Quick doesn't want to play 82 games before next year's Stanley Cup defense. Kadri is shipped out west as the Leafs young center has become an expendable trade piece.
Lombardi brings speed as a third-liner and penalty killer. Westgarth and Orr are swapped as enforcers who could possibly meet up for a throwdown in the AHL.
The Leafs covet a big young forward like King and may need to make a sweeter deal just to get the Kings' attention. Los Angeles is in the driver's seat here and can make the Leafs dance for as long as it wants.
The Deal: Vancouver Canucks trade Roberto Luongo, Daniel Sedin and Keith Ballard to Toronto for Joffrey Lupul, Mike Komisarek, Matthew Lombardi, James Reimer and $10 million.
I'm not sure that you can even throw cash into a deal anymore. I know that the Wayne Gretzky deal included some exorbitant sum, so Toronto will pay up to get half of the Sedins to the Air Canada Centre. Luongo won't come cheap as we've heard (ad nausea), so the Leafs will throw out a crazy offer and the Canucks will agree.
Maybe Toronto could plant a rumor that Henrik was using Daniel's toothbrush or borrowed his favorite ABBA Cd (they're Swedish) without asking. Anything to create dissension among the twins, then circle the date when Vancouver visits Toronto for some Sedin fisticuffs.
It makes sense that Lupul would move as well. Every time he seems to get comfortable, he gets traded. The rest of the players in this -mega-blockbuster are salary cap maneuvers, except Komisarek. He's tired of getting beat up by all the tough guys in the Eastern Conference.
The Deal: New York Islanders trade Ryan Strome, John Tavares, Matt Moulson and a 2013 first-round draft pick to Tampa Bay for Vincent Lecavalier.
Garth Snow is the master of a bad trade. Don't think so? About a month ago, he offered Columbus all of the Isles draft picks for Columbus' No. 2 spot in the draft. New York drafted two spots later. In review, that's six draft picks just to move up two spots. Genius. Ironically, Columbus GM Scott Howson, in an act of equal ineptitude, rejected the trade.
Tampa gets the Isles' two best players, best prospect and their next first-round pick (likely to be a top-five selection) for Lecavalier, the Lightning captain, whose best years are at least four years behind him.
Fortunately for Islander fans, he has about eight years left on his cap-unfriendly contract.