The art of the three-way trade is little utilized in the NHL when compared to other professional leagues; especially the NBA. Given the cap structure of the new NHL, I find it puzzling as to why we have yet to see an increase in utilization of such an obvious benefit. Teams want to complete deals, but so many times they end up falling through due in large part to unfriendly cap hits. In the age of parity, you would think that teams like Columbus would be jumping at the bit to take on a bad contract to eat up cap space, in order to bring in additional picks for next to nothing to improve their team.
That being said however, it has become evident since the beginning of summer that while many big name players may be available for trade, the major players (team wise) are unwilling to give up the assets required due to a reluctance to break up what put them in the position to deal for such a player in the first place. This is why I believe that if Rick Nash is going to be traded for anything near value, it will come via a three-way trade, most likely involving Scott Howson's friends up north in Edmonton. Edmonton has assets oozing from every foucet of their organization, except for the top 4 defensive positions...and arguably in net. Given the fact that Rick Nash would likely never accept a deal sending him to Edmonton, the fact remains they could likely give up the best suited package to Columbus. Edmonton could then flip Rick Nash for more defined needs on their roster; a move Columbus is in no position to make as without Nash their defined needs are NHL ready players in general.
For sake of argument, lets say the first half of the three way trade sees:
To Edmonton: W Rick Nash, 5th Round Pick, 7th Round Pick
To Columbus: C Sam Gagner, W Ales Hemsky, D Colten Teubert, C Ryan Martindale, 3rd Round Pick
In this trade Columbus aptly replaces Rick Nash's production, while adding talent to their farm system. Any trade for Rick Nash will not be centered on, or have a draft pick as a significant asset coming back. Columbus needs NHL ready, or in players whose development curve is further along. Planning and building to competitive in 5 years is not an option for Scott Howson anymore.
Rick Nash now needs to be dealt from Edmonton to complete the Three-Way deal. San Jose have the parts, and are in the position to remodel their franchise without massive public backlash: thus they are the perfect trading partner.
To Edmonton: W Ryane Clowe, D Marc-Eduard Vlasic, C Freddie Hamilton
To San Jose: W Rick Nash, 7th Round Pick (CBJ)
San Jose gives up prairie boy Clowe, and newly extended rear-guard Vlasic as well as arguably their best prospect (not saying much in that pathetic prospect pool). Some may argue this is an overpayment, but thats what it's going to take to land a perennial talent such as Nash. San Jose has been rumoured to be in talks to dish Patrick Marleau and Martin Havlat respectively. One has to think the assets coming back in either of these trades will more than make up for the loss of organizational depth suffered in the Rick Nash trade.
To Edmonton:W Ryane Clowe, D Marc-Eduard Vlasic, C Freddie Hamilton, 5th Round Pick (CBJ)
To Columbus: C Sam Gagner, W Ales Hemsky, D Colten Teubert, C Ryan Martindale, 3rd Round Pick (EDM)
To San Jose:W Rick Nash, 7th Round Pick (CBJ)