While we hockey fanatics meander through the Dog Days of the NHL offseason responding to stories like "Our New Head Coach can't bring his turtle into Tennessee!", a certain type of cabin fever sets in. An energy prompted by the upcoming transfer period in which we will draft, trade,
overpay role aged role players and sign many a contract as to re tool before the upcoming 2014 - 15 season. Thus is came to me to present the most feasible, compelling and downright wacky off season that could have never happened here in Nashville, as it is always enjoyable to imagine what could have been.
Bear with me here as this is simply for fun.
1) Trade a fourth round pick in 2014 for the rights to Jaroslav Halak
Nashville Predators Fans are left scratching their heads though they appreciate the value of this move.
2) Sign Jaroslav Halak to a 6 year contract at 4.5 M per year
Clearly, Halak will be informed privately of the upcoming move and will be more than happy to sign in a low key market for the best term and value he will receive on the market while being promised a full starter's role. Those still unconvinced as to Halak's capabilities should be directed towards any website that documents his superb statistics, keeping in mind that the #1 role in St. Louis was somewhat won from him by a goaltender who put up historic numbers and has been excellent ever since, meanwhile recalling that he lead the Montreal Canadiens to a Conference Final appearance and gave the Habs a very tough decision as to whom to keep between he and Carey Price. Halak is only 28 and will be a very good starting goaltender for years to come. The extra cap space received from his more than reasonable deal will only help matters, heading into the future.
3) Trade Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne, Nystrom, Gaustad and Ryan Ellis to Edmonton for J. Eberle, RNH, Nail Yakupov and picks
Boom. I'll just give y'all a moment to catch your breath. Okay and....
This epic transaction of historic proportions gives both sides what they've been missing for at least a decade now. The Oilers receive instant stability, a Norris and Vezina level player at respective positions, still in their primes with 15 years left on their contracts combined. Ryan Ellis will run their second power play unit for a decade and solidify what will become a very good defense core in time. As well, they receive two useful role players who will bring scoring depth, veteran leadership and many equally tangible and intangible abilities. It pains Edmonton to send away 3 players who are all extremely promising but they take solace in the fact that Franchise Cornerstones are near impossible to acquire and they will now have 3, depending on how you feel towards Taylor Hall.
Adversely, we receive a gold rush of elite young forward assets, none of whom will be going anywhere for a very long time. It is equally difficult to part with Weber AND Rinne but with Seth Jones and Roman Josi we have our top pairing for the next decade and we will finally have more young top forwards than we know what to do with. Our roster becomes perfectly tailored towards success in the modern NHL with a bevy of fast and skilled young elite forwards, agile and intelligent puck moving defensemen on the back end and a head coach who was born to oversee a team of this style with a prevailing league philosophy of "the best defense is a good offense".
In terms of contracts it is very copacetic. RNH is signed through to 2021 on an extremely agreeable contract worth 6M per season that will only get better as the salary cap continues to go up. Nail Yakupov will be in the final year of his entry level deal and will be a restricted free agent who won't reach Free Agent status until 2020. Jordan Eberle meanwhile is also signed until the 2021 at a cap hit of 6m which is wonderful considering he's a first line NHL forward who still has potential to get better. These are 3 of the best young forwards in hockey and would transform our franchise instantly.
3) Draft Nikolaj Ehlers at #11 Brayden Point at #42 and Vladimir Tkachev at #46
Three of the most skilled forwards in the draft.
4) Sign Dan Boyle to 2 years 4.5 Million
Weber's departure leaves us young at the back end. At 37 Boyle will be looking for a short term deal and scored 12 goals and 36 points last year.
5) Sign Matt Niskanen to 4 years 3 Million
Niskanen is a smooth skating, intelligent puck moving defenseman who is beloved by the fancy stats community and is considered by many to be one of the most underrated D men in the league. At 27 he has played in 50 career playoff games and would be more than willing to accept a reasonable contract.
6) Sign Radim Vrbata to 3 years 3 Million
The underrated and consistent scoring threat would provide leadership to our young kids and some key goals.
7) Our Lines and scoring projections in ( ) for 2014 - 2015
Smith (60) RNH (65) Jordan Eberle (70)
Wilson (50) Fisher (45) Nail Yakupov (50)
Stalberg (35) Cullen (35) Vrbata (40)
Bourque (25) Spaling (20) Watson (15)
Jarnkrok/Forsberg (20 each with potential for 30+)
Boyle (30) Josi (45)
Jones (35) Niskanen (30)
Ekholm (20) MDZ (25)
Peter Laviolette has his perfect team. Young hotshots at forward. Quick puck movers on the back end. A reliable goalie.
We are rebuilding anyways and a few years from contention at least so it seems only wise to rebuild fully and properly. This roster is absolutely a legitimate playoff team in a few years and could likely become a Stanley Cup Contender with the right guidance. It is jarring to trade franchise players but we would be likely to start a legitimate sellout streak with how exciting, dynamic and likeable this new look squad would be.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this at some level :)