The news was first reported by Renaud Lavoie of RDS, the french version of TSN: the Columbus Blue Jackets’ GM Scott Howson has Rick Nash on the trading block. Since then it’s been confirmed by other credible sources such as Bob McKenzie of TSN and Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch.

Whatever it was that Columbus hoped they had built this summer with the additions of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski clearly didn’t pan out, so this feels like one final hail mary from Howson before he too finds himself on the block – not so much the trade one, as the one used for chopping. He’s desperate.

Nash has a no-trade clause in his contract so he’ll have a lot of say in if he stays or goes, but my takeaway from the rumblings around the situation is that he’s not happy with the way things are going there, and not all that thrilled at the prospect of being a part of the franchise’s eleventy billionth rebuild (an impressive number for a team that’s only been around for a dozen seasons).

So! Which teams are likely to acquire him? You’ll be shocked to hear that there’s a good deal of interest in the 27-year old six-time 30 goal-scorer who’s under contract until 2018 (meaning he’s not just a rental player) at a high-but-fair cap hit of 7.8 million dollars.

The most likely team to land him right now appears to be the New York Rangers. As I wrote on Thursday, the Rangers have just under seven million in cap space, so if they trade back so much as a single player, they’d be under the ceiling. And, the opportunity to pair Nash with um, NHL players, must seem like an intriguing possiblity for the Blueshirts. He had a 40 goal season in Columbus where he tallied 16 assists, which is to say he could benefit from having a little more talent around him (I don’t care if he’s not a playmaker, you pick up 16 assists blindfolded on a good team).

If the Rangers do have to part with a player or two and not just picks/prospects, rumours have Brandon Dubinsky going back the other way. He’s the type of glue guy you hate to see a team part with, but his disappointing 24 points in 51 games rightfully have him in the doghouse.

Columbus has had scouts at two of the last four Rangers games, we can assume they’re getting serious about deciding who they like on New York’s roster.

The other rumoured possibilities, in order of who I think is most likely to land him, are Los Angeles (feeble offense), Philadelphia (Holmgren be crazy), Vancouver, Washington, San Jose and Toronto.

My take on all this: Columbus has to do something, and teams should be falling over themselves trying to bring him in.

Nash is an elite player in the NHL. His numbers are surprisingly low (consistent 70 point guy) over the course of his career, but his goal totals are not. That’s a pretty solid indication that he could get a nice statistical kick in the pants by playing on a better team.

His best offensive years are likely not ahead of him, but he’s in that happy middle chunk of his career where players generally maintain their numbers, and are a little older and wiser. Any team that has him gets a solid five more years at a fair price.

Because you simply can’t guarantee prospect development, I’d have no problem shipping a few over to Columbus in a deal. If you could take any two prospects (and a decent pick and decent player), and *poof* turn that into Rick Nash, I think you’d be foolish not to. It’s not that hard to replace 2nd/3rd line guys – finding the top end difference-makers is another story.

Whatever comes over in a trade is going to have fans saying that Team X overpaid for Nash, because fans (especially those of Canadian teams) badly overvalue prospects.

I’ve written about Nash before – every time I get to see him in international competition I hate that I don’t get to see him more (I don’t watch many Columbus games, as I may have mentioned awhile ago), and that he hasn’t had the opportunity to play more meaningful games. There are the rumours that he has no interest in playing in a fishbowl, in playing for a team in a major market, but losing wears on a guy. Sometimes you have to make a little sacrifice.

Because of that, I think whoever gets Nash gets a rejuvenated, interested player. I would love to see this happen.

So stay-tuned – given that there’s basically zero other NHL trade rumours this season, here’s your dead horse for the year. Let the beatings begin.

Comments (13)

  1. I love Rick Nash. I’ve travelled to IIHF games because I knew he’d be there. I’ve been a fan of his since World Jrs. He’s the reason I do watch CBJ games. Any team would be lucky to have him & there are only a very few players I wouldn’t consider dealing to add him to a roster.

    Since I live in Toronto (but hate the Leafs and especially their fans), I get to listen to insane speculation that he’ll somehow become a Leaf just because he grew up 45 minutes from here and that Leaf fans seem to think that players not good enough to make a .500 roster will somehow be enough to snag the biggest fish available in quite some time.

  2. ST00PID blog. Yeah, Nasher may be “available” but not for “disappointing” players. You people and your get-rich-quick schemes are disrespectful to Nash, Columbus, and hockey.

  3. As a die hard Blue Jackets fan (albeit one living in Toronto) part of me is devastated that Nasher may be leaving the fold. I do however understand that we have to do whatever it takes to make the Jackets a success on the ice. Right now I can’t see anyone I’d want in return, but I’ll leave that to Scott Howson and the guys to make the right decision.

    The big issue that I have personally is with the All Star game next year. I was really looking forward to seeing the home support go wild for ‘Team Nash’. Without Rick, who do we build an all star team around? The thought of ‘Team Mason’ just leaves me cold.

  4. I’m a suffering jacket fan ( although a wins fan since 86) if they deal the ace of the franchise they might as well put up the for sale to rich billionaire sign . They will be another Pheonix for sure untill they move or are the first time contracted in the NHL . Fire the GM already

  5. What the fuck who knew there were even 4 CBJ fans out there at all? And furthermore, why are there?

  6. I think, frankly, that this could be good for Columbus – but only if they do it right.

    For example, as a Habs fan, imagine if it was something like Pacioretty and Subban for Nash (maybe with some pics involved, or whatever). They get a couple exciting young players, but ones who are ready now.
    Note: I’m not saying I want this, I’m a big fan of Patches and Subban and don’t want either traded, just trying to come up with an example of something that *might* improve the team and keep the fans interested.

    hmmm…how about Boston? As much as I hate them, they’d probably be a good fit for him; physical team, near the top of the league but with the prospects necessary to make a big offer. Give up Lucic, Hamilton and a 1st? That would be scary. It wouldn’t be too hard for them in cap space either, increase of ~4mil, but someday they’ll roll with Rask and say goodbye to Thomas which would save them upwards of 4mil.

    -shrug-, it’s always fun to play armchair GM

  7. If Montreal was interested, i dont think the cap hits in that deal would work out, maybe a deal like peter budaj, rene bourqe, lars eller, kaberle, nathan beaulieu, Andreas Engqvist, first rounder in 2013, and second rounder in this years draft, for Nash, wishniewski and Sanford or Mason. the jackets get 4 NHL players than can help right now, and beaulieu is a decent looking D prospect and Engquist as of now is a decent AHL’er, whith size and only 24. Wishniewski was great in his breif time with the habs and we take back his huge contract, along with Nash’s

    • Nash is a great hockey player, but mindset is hugely important with these guys. Ideally you would give your all no matter what when you are getting paid grotesque amounts of money to play a game you love, but at the end of the day it’s just not true. Nash has been surrounded by mediocrity for years, and you can see the desire draining out of him. Let’s face it, the drafting in Columbus has been downright awful. You would think eventually some of these picks might pay off, but that hasn’t been the case, and Mason seems to have been a one hit wonder. That and the addition of some lackluster journeymen signed as free agents, and you get exactly what you would expect. The Carter fiasco is an entirely different dilemma, as he never really wanted to be there in the first place, and that deal never should have been done under any circumstances because of that. Teams like Nashville and Minnesota get by without superstars due to the fact that they play tight systems, and have had great coaching; something you cannot say about Columbus.

      Basically, I see no reason why Nash would want to stay; he has given that organization enough time to build around him, but they have not been successful for many of the above reasons. Being a Leafs fan, I might be delusional in thinking that we could net him, but hey why wouldn’t I want to think they would at the very least try. I can tell you for sure that he will not be involved in any deal involving Peter Budaj or Brandon Dubinsky, as Howson needs to really bleed whomever he deals with or it’s his own ass on the line.

      • This was not supposed to be posted as a reply to your comment, I intended it to be in the main thread. Oops.

  8. Nash isn’t an elite player, an elite player makes those around him better. An elite player plays either 2 way hockey or is absolutely exceptional on offense (see: Bure). Nash is far from those things. Sure, he’s played on bad teams, but that didn’t stop Kovy from dragging Atl up and producing. It didn’t stop Sundin with terrible linemates. Its not stopping tavares or even Mikko Koivu.
    Nash can score goals, but who ever takes him on will get a player who can’t find his own end with a seeing eye dog and that couldn’t pass go in Monopoly. Smart teams that are contending will wait til the off season to make a splash.
    Nash reaks of Jay Boumeester stench, a player that everyone over values because he’s on a bad team but is overrated and will never develop into the player everyone anticipated. I like Nash, he’s a good dude (played Junior with buddy so we’ve gone out a few times) so I seriously hope I’m wrong, but anyone expecting him to go to NYR and go 40/80, even 35/70 is nuts. If he goes 30/30 people should be happy. Teams like Toronto, those in moddle of the pack, should keep their assets

    • Tavares has a couple of decent linemates in Parenteau and Moulson. Umberger and Brassard would be playing third line on most teams.

      Nash has put up 40 goals twice in his career. If he left and got to play on a line with a Gaborik, Richards, or even with another playmaker on a different contending team. He’ll put up 35/70.

      I wouldn’t trade the farm for him, but for Dubinsky, a prospect, and a second rounder, I would be all for it.

      • But, are Moulson/Parenteau good because of Tavares? They didn’t exactly do much until they fell into his lap.

        End of the day, I don’t think he scores 40 on a good team bc he won’t be given the same aount of ice time or the puck nearly as often. Since he doesn’t pass that ont help his #s either.

  9. @Mike .. Because we live here obviously. Believe it or not the Jackets are still getting roughly 14K a night for a really crappy team. No shows can be high for teams of little local interest, but if management somehow pulls this together, its going to be a lot of fun. This shitty run can’t last forever right? …. right? Shut up.

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