Some weeks ago, before Rick Nash trade speculation turned a lot of sane human beings into wide-eyed, raving lunatics, I was chatting with an NHL general manager and the subject was trade rumours – real or imagined – and how much work they generate for his peers in the Twitter/blogosphere era.
Generally, the GM said, if a rumour involving a prominent player had even a whiff of logic to it, it requires him to touch base with the agent and sometimes even meet with the player to clarify what was really going on. The GM also needs to make time to take phone calls from peers, many of whom are checking if there was any foundation to the speculation.
And then, of course, there are the members of the media, chasing news minute-by-minute, trying to get an accurate lay of the land.
Poof! Half a day can go up in smoke.
I laughed (ruefully, I think) and told him my latest theory: Somebody was missing a sure money-making opportunity by failing to register the domain name NHLFaketrades.net. There is so much interest in what happens at the trade deadline – and so much wild speculation about who may or may not change teams – someone may as well create a forum so people who dream up stuff can post it somewhere.
(I know I did as a college student, killing time between classes at Scarborough College. Frank Adornetto and I would shuffle so many pieces here, there and everywhere that eventually we'd turned Pat Boutette, Jerry Butler and Jimmy Jones into Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt. How come the geniuses that ran the Toronto Maple Leafs couldn't do as well?)
I also challenged the GM to name any two teams, and I could instantly produce a plausible-enough trade rumour that would at least force him think twice before dismissing it out of hand. He didn't want to play along, so I did it for him.
Arbitrarily, I picked the Philadelphia Flyers and the Los Angeles Kings out of the hat because they will be active at the 2012 deadline, and so far, most of the trade speculation involves one or the other or both. Everybody knew the Flyers were shopping for a defenceman and last Thursday, they landed Nicklas Grossman from the Dallas Stars for a second- and third-round pick.
I put forward a scenario in which the Flyers aimed higher, arguing that because the Kings had a surplus of NHL defencemen, they could surrender a top-four rearguard in exchange high-end scoring help up-front.
Too bad James van Riemsdyk is hurt. Healthy, they could swap him, and maybe a little something else, to the Kings for blueliner Jack Johnson. Both are young Americans – van Riemsdyk was the second-overall pick in 2007, Johnson third overall in 2005 – and both still have a ways to go to meet their potential. Likely Philadelphia would need to sweeten the pot slightly because defencemen of that pedigree are harder to come by than forwards, so add in a second-round draft pick.
It's the sort of transaction that, if it ever did happen, it wouldn't make you think: That's crazy. Nor is it the sort of outrageous Corey Perry-for-Cory Schneider-and-spare-parts nonsense that can be easily dismissed.
You'll have to trust me on this one, too, but I also threw out a suggestion that the Chicago Blackhawks and Buffalo Sabres might hook up as possible trading partners: Chicago landing a goalie (Ryan Miller) in exchange for the hometown boy, Patrick Kane, currently in the midst of an awful scoring slump. Who was more surprised than me to hear, about a week later, a rumour suggesting exactly that – speculation that forced Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman to deny that his team was shopping for a goalie.
So today, here on the newly minted NHLFaketrades.net hub, let's begin by pondering why all those killjoy GMs keep explaining why certain players aren't moving after all.
Islanders GM Garth Snow quashed the Evgeni Nabokov speculation. He hopes to re-sign him. The Carolina Hurricanes are keeping Tuomo Ruutu, also in the hopes of signing him, but if they don't or they can't, well, then he'll be available. Nash is available from the Columbus Blue Jackets, but after all that early breathless speculation, everyone is taking a step back. How good is Nash really (no 80-point campaigns thus far in his NHL career) and is he worth the money ($7.8-million per season)?
I can't even bring myself to make up any Schneider rumours because I can't see the Vancouver Canucks trading him just yet, but if they do, wouldn't the Tampa Bay Lightning be a good landing place for the rights to young defenceman Victor Hedman? Sami Salo's gotta retire eventually, and if you had Hedman maybe you could give up Alexander Edler, too, in a package for a top-six forward … like maybe Nash.
Except Nash will likely end up in Los Angeles, where he fills a need, gets to play with former Canadian Olympic teammate Mike Richards and maybe is the marquee attraction the Kings so desperately need. After trading away Dominic Moore to the San Jose Sharks for a draft choice, Tampa's got to be thinking about moving winger Ryan Malone – why shouldn't he be a King, too, in exchange for Dustin Penner's expiring contract and a second-round draft choice?
Blueliner Pavel Kubina is going somewhere and he was a mainstay of the Tampa team that knocked Philadelphia out in the 2004 Eastern Conference final (the Flyers have long memories), why wouldn't he end up there? Chicago has the greater need on the blueline, so they should be in there swinging.
Nashville got into the act Friday, by dealing off a big "name," Blake Geoffrion, to the Montreal Canadiens, in exchange for a big man, 6-foot-7 Hal Gill, who has the size, playoff pedigree and penalty-killing skills the Predators crave. And if Montreal decides to dish off further assets, put Travis Moen in a Detroit Red Wings uniform in the next two weeks.
Columbus forward Sami Pahlsson won a Stanley Cup in Anaheim; and with the Ducks tilting over to the buyers' side of the equation thanks to a 14-2-3 run, he might be better as their No. 3 centre than anyone they've tried in the interim.
See? What fun.
Hopefully, the San Jose-Tampa and Philly-Dallas trades broke the ice, and with the deadline only 10 days away, things can only heat up from here on in.
And if it does, check back often just in case you heard it hear first.
NHLFaketrades.net. Patent pending.