Earlier today, the NHL's general managers announced that they were officially recommending the implementation of three-on-three overtime - something which has been tested in the AHL over the past season, and with great success (if you consider success to be a drastic reduction in shootout games, which sounds pretty great to us).
The specifics haven't been nailed down yet, and it still has to get the green light from the NHLPA, but one would imagine it would look something like what they're currently doing in the AHL: three minutes of four-on-four, followed by four minutes of three-on-three.
So naturally that got us (and the rest of the hockey world) thinking...if we were in charge of such decisions, who would our overtime trios be?
With four minutes to work with, you're likely talking about three groups of three, each taking two shifts. There are no rules - at least not according to the AHL's official site - dictating that you have to use both forwards and defenseman, but for our purposes we'll stick with a fairly standard 2F, 1D formation, with an eye towards finding some balance between chemistry, speed, perhaps a wee bit of defensive conscience... and obviously the ability to score goals. That's kind of key.
Here's what we've come up with:
Alex Ovechkin - Andre Burakovsky
We've seen how well Burakovsky and Ovechkin have meshed so far this year, and each of them possesses both the ability to fire off a well-placed shot - and to set up the other one to do so. Throw in Green, who is pretty adept in both of those areas in his own right, and that's a pretty tempting first option.
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom
Another forward duo that's spent some time together over the course of the season (and beyond), going with two-thirds of the short-lived Tre Kronor line provides you with Johansson's speed and Backstrom's play-making ability. Of course, someone needs to actually shoot the puck... which is why Carlson is there. That's definitely something he's capable of doing.
Evgeny Kuznetsov - Eric Fehr
Kuznetsov is starting to develop a pretty good eye for openings on the ice, with or without the puck - and Fehr is good at creating those openings, as well as the occasional turnover. With Niskanen on the back-end firing bombs, the rebound potential is good for two forwards who don't mind going to the net.
Of course, this is just one set of options (and options that take into account guys who may or may not be here next year...because denial is fun).
Kuznetsov would probably also make some pretty sweet music alongside Ovechkin, and we already know that Backstrom would, while Burakovsky, Johansson and Fehr all have some familiarity with one another and would be just fine alongside any of the other two. And while the speed isn't necessarily there, you could always swap in someone like Joel Ward, Curtis Glencross or Brooks Laich to create some havoc in front of the net, get his butt in the crease and prevent the goalie from getting a look at all of the space out there.
...or chuck it all and just throw Ovechkin out there for the whole four minutes. Given how he dominates the League at four-on-four*, you may not need the whole time anyway.
So how'd we do?