Training camps across the league are already in full swing, which means it's now or never for a fantastic piece such as this one (i.e. one that engages in fantasy, not necessarily one of good quality).
In a week or two, I'll have to resort to writing about reality.
For now though, I thought it would be fun to see if I could put together five trades that could pry Shea Weber out of Nashville.
None of the trades I present are realistic or at all likely.
Despite the Predators' budgetary concerns, I don't think Weber will leave Nashville because he is the heart and soul of that franchise. If he leaves, the Predators will not see the Western Conference semifinals again for a very long time.
The trades I'll be presenting to you are ones that I think might be good enough to acquire Weber, nothing more.
The main purpose of this article is really to entertain and perhaps generate some discussion as well.
To Colorado: Shea Weber
To Nashville: Paul Stastny, Stefan Elliott, 2013 first-round pick
The Avalanche would be a bit weak down the middle if this trade were to happen, but they would get a franchise defenseman back.
One obstacle to this trade, amongst many others, would be that the Avs already have a franchise defenseman in Erik Johnson (not to mention a franchise centre in Matt Duchene).
Having three franchise players on a team would cause some problems, to the say the least.
But that's reality—we're dealing in fantasy right now.
In Paul Stastny, the Predators would get a true No. 1 centre.
In Stefan Elliott, they get a top defensive prospect.
The way I see it, this trade package is worth roughly four first-round picks.
That's what Nashville would receive if they couldn't match an offer sheet from another team. Weber will be an RFA next year and will have to go through the contract negotiation process again, but I doubt anyone will attempt an offer sheet.
I merely believe that four first-rounders is a good starting point in a discussion about Weber's trade value.
To Toronto: Shea Weber
To Nashville: Mikhail Grabovski, Nazem Kadri, Carl Gunnarsson, Jussi Rynnas, 2012 first-round pick
There's no way in hell Shea Weber joins the Leafs. One reason is that the Leafs already have a stud defenseman from Western Canada in Dion Phaneuf. Another reason is that the Leafs already have a captain, also in Dion Phaneuf.
And since there's no way the Leafs are parting with Phaneuf, there's no way they're getting Weber either.
One thing that this trade would do is alleviate the logjam the Leafs have at the centre position. The Leafs would still have too many defensemen, however.
Let's forget all that for a minute.
In Grabovski, the Predators get a solid No. 2 centre who could fill in on the top line if necessary. He had a breakthrough year last year (29 G, 29 A, 58 P) and would provide some welcome offensive numbers.
Kadri is the Leafs' top prospect while Gunnarsson is a reliable young defenseman.
Jussi Rynnas is a decent goalie prospect who I don't think will ever see much, if any, time with the Leafs due to the organization's depth at that position.
Would either side want to do this trade?
I have no idea, but it's fun to think about, isn't it?
To Edmonton: Shea Weber
To Nashville: Ales Hemsky, Magnus Paajarvi, Jeff Petry, 2012 first-round pick
The Edmonton Oilers are in the midst of rebuilding and hence, have a ton of young assets.
Aside from Jeff Petry, any one of the other trade pieces I named could likely be substituted for another. Since Petry is Edmonton's top defensive prospect, I'm sure Nashville would want him in the deal.
You could swap in Jordan Eberle or even Taylor Hall somewhere just to make it more enticing for the Predators.
My brain is obviously telling me that this deal would never happen for countless reasons, but even my gut is telling me this deal couldn't happen because the Oilers simply aren't giving up enough.
Would this deal be enough, or would Edmonton have to throw in another player or pick to make it more fair?
There's quite a bit of offense going to Nashville in this deal, so maybe they'd be interested in that. Although they would lose Weber's offensive numbers, they do have another highly gifted offensive defenseman in the system who is poised to break out at the NHL level: Ryan Ellis.
With this deal, Nashville might still remain competent defensively while adding some much-needed offense as well.
Hemsky could battle Patric Hornqvist for the top-line RW position while Paajarvi might fit in at the third-line LW spot.
To NYI: Shea Weber
To Nashville: Blake Comeau, Mark Streit, Kevin Poulin, 2012 first-round pick
Again, I find myself asking if this would be enough to acquire Shea Weber. Even after examining the strengths of the assets going the other way, I still can't decide.
Blake Comeau's point production has steadily increased every year since he played three NHL games in 2006-07. Last year, he posted a respectable 24 goals and 22 assists for 46 points, all career highs.
He could make a case for the second-line LW position.
Mark Streit is the Islanders' best defenseman, but unfortunately missed all of last season due to injury. When he returns, he'll provide a huge boost for the Islanders, not only offensively, but as one of the few veterans on the young Islanders squad.
If this deal were to go through, a healthy Streit could replace a good chunk of Weber's offensive numbers (or even exceed them), so in terms of point production, neither player would be sorely missed by their respective team.
Throw in Kevin Poulin, a decent goalie prospect on a team that's loaded at the goalie position, and a first-rounder.
We've got just enough salary going either way to keep both teams above the floor.
To Washington: Shea Weber
To Nashville: Mike Green, Tom Poti, 2012 first-round pick
Mike Green is just over 14 months younger than Shea Weber. Both Green and Weber are elite offensive defensemen.
Weber, however, is a franchise player whereas Green is merely a star.
Washington is slightly over the salary cap, so throwing in Tom Poti's $2.875 million cap hit will help them shed roughly $500,000 in salary. They'll still be slightly over, but some tinkering could fix that I'm sure.
Throw in a low first-round pick to seal the deal.
After Weber and Ryan Suter, the Predators are a bit thin on defense, so acquiring Poti as part of the deal will also add some depth at that position.
Since he entered the league in 2005-06, Green has only played a full season once and that was in 2007-08. His next-highest total in terms of games played was 75 a couple seasons ago. Last season, he only played in 49 games.
When Green is healthy, he puts up scary numbers. In 2008-09, despite playing in only 68 games, he scored 31 goals along with 42 assists for 73 points.
That's 20 points higher than Weber's career high of 53, also achieved in 2008-09.
In my opinion, this trade has the edge over all the other ones I presented in terms of value.
However, I tried to balance all of them as best I could by seeing if I would trade one package for the other instead of for Weber.
Although they are all ludicrous in my opinion, I've tried to make them all equally ludicrous.