The Rick Nash rumor train has taken a few weeks off as the attention of the NHL has been purely focused on the playoffs. However, as the summer heat arrives it brings Rick Nash trade rumors as reports are indicating that the Blue Jackets are prepared to resume talks over their prized forward.
The NHL GM meetings, set to start Wednesday in New Jersey, will likely be the start of some serious trade talk between the Columbus Blue Jackets and any interested team that wants to acquire Nash. It's believed the process could be completed prior to or near the NHL Draft or the start of the free agency period so the parties involved can focus on other needs without having to contemplate Nash's future.
Puck Daddy correctly mentions that the ultimate fates of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter could play a major role in determining where Nash lands, or vice versa. A team that lands Parise will no longer be interested in Nash. By the same token, if a team that wants Parise misses out on him, their interest in Nash might suddenly multiply.
Regardless of where Nash ends up, the way he is leaving the Blue Jackets is certainly a bit abnormal. Nash gave his list of teams he'd be willing to be dealt to and Columbus elected to instead sit on their hands in the hopes that more enticing trade avenues would open up over the summer. Still, Columbus might need Nash to expand his list of cities if they hope to truly capitalize on waiting to make a deal. It remains to be seen if Nash will do this considering the events that have gone down leading up to Nash wanting a trade out of Columbus.
For the Blue Jackets, on paper, their decision to wait to deal Nash is an intelligent one. Teams that fell short in the playoffs may be looking to make a big change and a trade for Nash meets that criteria.
With all that being said, which teams might be interested in Nash? Puck Daddy speculates that San Jose might be a logical fit assuming they are able to restructure their payroll in order to fit under the cap. This argument makes a lot of sense given the fact the Sharks again stumbled in the playoffs and are contemplating some major changes prior to 2012-13. The Sharks would have to part ways with at least a couple of their current big names in order to fit Nash in - a move that would certainly be worthy of the term "overhaul".
The New York Rangers were the closest to finalizing a deal for Nash prior to the trade deadline in 2011-12. The deal ultimately never materialized due to the steep price the Blue Jackets were asking for. It's safe to assume that the Rangers will again be interested in Nash after falling to the New Jersey Devils in the Conference Finals. It seems unlikely that the Rangers will raise their offer a significant amount but it wouldn't be surprising to see them again in the mix for Nash.
As always, we can assume that there are likely numerous teams looking to acquire Nash that won't speak of their intentions in order to keep the price on the forward relatively low. We can speculate about who these teams might be but ultimately our guess is as good as yours.
At this time, we have no idea where Rick Nash will play in 2012-13. However, we now know that talks involving Nash's future will be picking up in the coming weeks.
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I think a lot of it is going to depend on which GM can convince the CBJs to be a bit more reasonable in their desired return. At least, if the outcome of the Rangers attempt to land him at the deadline is a true indication of the value that Columbus is placing on Nash.
Beyond that, the trade partner is going to need three obvious things:
1) Being a place that Nash wants to go, or at least can see a solid up-side to. Pretty self-explanatory. Due to his contract, Nash has a say in this. Granted, being in the position of wanting out, it's possible that he'll end up relaxing his standards somewhat, but going beyond a team that was a couple of points on the outside looking in to the playoffs is probably asking too much. Escaping the last place team to join the fourth-to-last place team is almost assuredly not in the cards.
2) Value to give back in return. This one is simple, since Columbus needs just about everything in order to improve as a team. Given that they're talking about giving up their one real star and fan-drawing power, I'd have to assume at least two above-average players plus some picks coming back the other way to fill this requirement. (Read "above-average" as solid second-liners with possible first-line potential. And that may be setting Columbus' expectations low.)
3) Revenue on hand to deal with Nash's contract going forward. Competent big, skilled power forwards don't come cheap, after all. This rules out team in small- to mid-markets struggling financially (unfortunately including my Blues), who just wouldn't be able to make the numbers work.
@miendiem Thanks to more Tarasenko rumors, it's amusing to see all the Blues fans clamoring for Nash. I place St. Louis as one of the five least likely places for him to end up.
@David Rogers I should add, like I said in the thread on Frozen Notes, I'll worry about the ability to hop on or off the Tarasenko bandwagon once we get some word from Armstrong that a deal is in place, or that a deal fell apart. Until then, it's really just speculation, along the same lines of will or won't the team re-sign a number of their restricted and unrestricted free agents this summer.
@David Rogers Granted, I think from a style of play standpoint, he'd fit in just fine. Several things prevent that from becoming reality, though.
Columbus isn't crazy enough to trade him within the division, at least not for anything less than an overwhelmingly one-sided deal, and there's no way Armstrong would meet that kind of demand. Even if they wanted a semi-reasonable package, the whole trading within the division stigma works the other way, too.
The Blues don't have the kind of payroll flexibility to hang onto Nash anyway, unless they essentially fill their other upcoming holes with players at or near the NHL minimum. If the idea is to improve the team, allocating the vast majority of the eggs to the Rick Nash basket isn't the way to go, especially with the obvious need of a top pairing LHD.
There's no guarantee that Nash would want to come here, anyway. Sure, it's a business, but being division rivals for his whole career certainly could have bred some contempt. Or he could not want to play for Hitchcock/in Hitchcock's sytem. This is certainly more speculative than the first two points, but it's an additional real possibility to consider.