By: Scott Bluni
Does this sound like a broken record yet? Since before the 2011-2012 NHL trade deadline last season, Rick Nash trade rumors have been a substantial part of all NHL news. Something tells me that Nash won’t be finding a home any time soon because of the Collective Bargaining Agreement talks that just began last week.
The former #1 overall pick is one of the best, if not the best, offensive trade commodity still available for teams this offseason. The 28-year-old Ontario native has proven that he can consistently get past the 30 goals plateau every season, and even won the Rocket Richard Trophy in the 2003-2004 season with 41G/16A/57P. Nash was able to score 41 goals with Andrew Cassels as his center, and for those of you who don’t know, Cassels is by no means a superstar center. He is a consistent 50-60 point scorer who also brings a physical element to his game. The winger has proven he can score and play a two-way game without much supporting cast in Columbus. If Nash can get out of Columbus and onto a playoff-caliber team his goals and points could increase substantially.
The teams on his “list” include the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks. Essentially, Nash wants to work with Patrice Bergeron/Tyler Seguin, Pavel Datsyuk, Brad Richards, Claude Giroux/Danny Briere, Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin or Joe Thornton. Again, Nash has never had a superstar center to work with, and a distributing center could raise his game to new heights. The teams on this list also have high caliber offensive defenseman who can distribute the puck to forwards and set up power plays.
Despite the potential in signing Rick Nash, there are some serious problems to consider for the teams on his list. The first and most obvious problem is that because his trade value is so high other teams will potentially have to send a lot to Columbus in order to acquire him. For instance, in trade talks with the New York Rangers the Blue Jackets wanted d-men Del Zotto or McDonagh, plus a first round pick and prospect Tim Erixon. Del Zotto and McDonagh are both young defensemen who proved this year that they have the potential to be crucial difference makers for the Rangers franchise. That deal just seemed excessive for the Rangers, who backed out of the deal before the deadline last year. However, in order for a deal to be made for Rick Nash, the Blue Jackets will have to acquire a tremendous amount of young talent as they continue their reconstruction in Columbus.
The other problem is that until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached, teams might not be so quick to trade away prospects and current NHLers for a guy that might prove to be an undesirable acquisition from a salary cap standpoint. Not many premier teams in the NHL can afford Nash’s $7.8M annual cap hit as it is, meaning that change in their current rosters would be necessary in order to employ him.
On July 13, NHL owners proposed a radical CBA proposal. In addition to getting rid of salary arbitration, limiting contracts to 5 years and increasing entry-level contracts from 3 years to 5 years, the owners proposed to reduce the players’ hockey related revenues to 46% from 57%. Will all of these specific demands be met? Certainly not, but the owners have clearly and boldly outlined their wishes for next season. The players’ association will undoubtedly lower these numbers and compromise with the owners, but the $70.3M salary cap will have to be lowered if the NHL season is to start in October. With the model that the owners released, the salary cap would be knocked down to about $56.7M. This would also include a rollback on all existing contracts of 20%.
At the moment, the Detroit Red Wings have the most cap space on Nash’s “approved” list with $16.8M. The New York Rangers have the second most with $15.M. However, this is based on the current CBA model and the $70.3M cap. Could anyone even afford Rick Nash if the salary cap was to potentially be lowered by $10M? Unless drastic moves are made to acquire him, probably not.
So where will he end up? Columbus? Highly doubtful. The potential for locker room dysfunction is obvious, regardless of what kind of support he could get from his teammates. This process has already created too much drama in the Columbus Blue Jackets organization, and too much drama in the NHL as a whole. Keep in mind, if he is not traded immediately he will be expected to go to training camp, which would also be extremely awkward for Nash and the organization. If he remains on the Blue Jackets and chooses not to go to camp it will cost him $27,636.35 per day (or 1/275 of his $7.6M salary for the 2012-2013 season).
With new reports indicating that the Detroit Red Wings are making an offer for the Phoenix Coyotes captain, Shane Doan, it can be inferred that they have lost interest in Nash. This would make the New York Rangers the new optimal place for Nash to land. However, if Rick Nash is not acquired by any team before the new collective bargaining agreement is reached, it will be tough for anyone to sign him. Let’s hope he lands somewhere soon because frankly I think we’re all sick and tired of this Rick Nash drama.
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