I really couldn't choose. It's tough to judge how badly the Sharks offense would fall if they lost Thornton, and how much Lidstrom would bring back.
But honestly, I would probably take Lidstrom for one season. San Jose has enough forward talent to where losing Thornton and adding Lidstrom wouldn't hurt them immensely, IMO.
Likewise. This is one time I would take someone other than Thornton. Lidstrom on SJ would be sick. Our offense would drop off, but SJ has the means to keep offense going. On many other teams, it would be Thornton because of the need for offense and an excellent two way forward who can make a line by himself
For next season and the short-term future, maybe two or three years, I would take Lidstrom even over Crosby. There are three truly elite defensemen...two for now with Niedermayer in limbo. A center scoring 100+ points and being an offensive catalyst is a tad more prevalent in our league right now.
If I'm a contending team, I'd take Lidstrom first. If someone comparable is there and not in the forward position, then Crosby/Thornton. But it's tough to make that kind of decision simply based on players alone because both are great. Just depends on the team needs and circumstances (cellar dwellar or contender).
For the Hurricanes, Lidstrom is an easy choice. While I'd love to see Thornton as a Cane, the Canes have great center depth and we'd have to push Staal down to the third line just to fit Thornton in (unless we moved Staal to wing). Our defense doesn't put up too many points, and we don't have a defenseman guy who can control a game like Lidstrom can.
That's nice but we'll see in April. Crosby's great and all but he's not so much better that nobody will challenge him for the Art Ross...I think that's a bit foolish. Crosby's not going to be winning the Art Ross every year for the next fifteen years.