Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Revisiting the golden era of the three-way blockbuster

NHL fans had plenty to talk about over the weekend thanks to a major trade involving the Senators, Predators and Avalanche. The deal finally ended the long-running Matt Duchene saga, sent pending UFA Kyle Turris to Nashville with an extension in hand, and signaled a major change in direction for all three teams involved.

While it’s rare to see a trade of this significance go down so early in the season, the deal was notable for another reason. It resurrected a concept that’s all but disappeared from the NHL over the years: the blockbuster three-way trade.

Fans love the concept of the three-way deal. In theory, they should be more common in the modern NHL, where we’re constantly told that good fits and cap space are tough to find. Adding another team to the mix seems like an ideal way to address those issues, and it’s not surprising that so many hot-stove rumours inevitably see speculation about a third team getting involved.

But it rarely happens, at least on any sort of significant scale. We’ve seen a few in recent years, like last year’s Mark Streit deal and the whole John Scott thing, but those were relatively minor moves. The Kyle Quincey deal from 2012 was bigger, but hardly earth-shattering.

(And yes, we’ll pause to acknowledge that technically, three-way NHL trades don’t exist. A trade can only involve two teams, so a three-way deal is actually a series of discrete two-team trades. Settle down, comment-section pedants — you know what we mean.)

So what happened? Where did the three-way blockbuster go?

Maybe modern-day GMs are right when they tell us that trading is just too hard. Maybe today’s front offices, clogged with assistants and analytics experts and consultants and a dozen other voices, just aren’t built for creativity. Maybe three-way deals are meant to be a relic of the past, when a table full of impatient GMs could order a few pints and then swing a deal or two.

Or maybe — now that the Senators, Predators and Avalanche have reminded us how it’s done — we can hold out hope that the concept will come back into style.

So today, let’s head back to the 1990s and revisit the golden age of the three-way blockbuster. Here are five significant three-way NHL trades from a decade when NHL GMs often found that three heads were better than two.

1) Nov. 2, 1993: Acquiring an iron man

The background: By the time the 1993-94 campaign arrived, Steve Larmer had spent 11 full seasons with the Blackhawks. And they had been full – Larmer had never missed a game over that time, playing 884 straight to get within range of Doug Jarvis’s all-time iron-man record. But Larmer’s streak ended on opening night, not due to an injury or a benching, but because he was holding out to force a trade.

One month into his holdout, with Larmer holding firm on his demand for a change of scenery, the veteran winger got his wish.

The deal: The Blackhawks sent Larmer and Bryan Marchment to Hartford for Patrick Poulin and Eric Weinrich. The Whalers then flipped Larmer along with Nick Kypreos, minor-league defenceman Barry Richter and a draft pick to the Rangers for James Patrick and Darren Turcotte.

The move was part of the Rangers’ push to build a contender around Mark Messier, one that would see them add veterans from around the league as the season went on. It was also part of the mid-’90s Whalers’ apparent attempt to have every star player of the era show up on their roster and then immediately leave.

The winner: Larmer. He’d play only two years in New York, retiring after the lockout-shortened 1995 season, but he’d arrive just in time to be reunited with Mike Keenan and help the Ranges win the 1994 Stanley Cup. Weinrich and Poulin were fine for Chicago, but didn’t exactly represent a windfall, while Marchment, Turcotte and Patrick all lasted less than two years in Hartford.

(Kypreos ended up doing OK for himself, too.)

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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