It was supposed to be a quiet trade deadline. Tuomo Ruutu was said to be the biggest name on the block just a little over a week ago. Then everything hit the fan.
Word began to leak out that Mr. Columbus, the one and only Rick Nash, wanted out of Ohio. The guy who we only ever saw at the All-Star Game and on Team Canada was interested in playing for a team that actually appeared on television a few times a year.
Since then, there have been various rumors thrown around and endless speculation about the ideal location for Mr. Nash to end up. Everyone knows that he has a thick cap hit and quite the contract, but he is elite no matter what anyone else says. He has put up numbers for the better part of the last decade while languishing in obscurity and playing with a revolving door of nobodies.
So now it is time to take a look at the possible landing spots for the biggest fish on the markets. Of course there are no guarantees that Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson makes a move at all, but the word around town is that he would like to get out from pretty much every heavy contract left on his books.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings come up every time Nash is mentioned. They have the good, cheap, young pieces that would fit into the Jackets plan, but it is a matter of figuring out the right pieces.
Columbus has struggled to find consistency between the pipes since Steve Mason’s rookie season, and Jonathan Bernier could be the man for than job. While he has not played exceptionally well this year for the Kings, the former lottery pick has yet to be given the reigns to a team.
So start the deal with Bernier. Then you add in a very stellar young blueliner like Jack Johnson, who may or may not love the prospect of leaving the bright lights of LA for the grind of Columbus. But he is a very good player and under control at a reasonable rate.
Add in one of Loktionov or Slava Voynov, and you almost have yourself a complete package. The Kings will continue to be in the mix down to the last minute with Nash, and they might even be talked into adding in a 1st round pick to act as the cherry on top.
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks you say? Well, word came out last night that San Jose could in fact be in the mix for Mr. Nash. But while many of the other teams in the mix for Nash are flush with young assets, which are somewhere that the Sharks fall short.
So the Sharks will have to part with multiple players that are currently on their roster if they hope to land Mr. Nash. The discussion would have to start with Joe Pavelski, who has a manageable $4 million cap hit for the next three years and is a consistent 20 goal scorer.
But then where to the Sharks go? Vlasic and Demers are not exactly great high-level talents. Picks would have to be part of this deal, and likely some prospects, which they lack on the high end.
So while the Sharks may be interested, it would be tough to make a deal that would be better than others reportedly on the table.
New York Rangers
Why would the Rangers, who are leading the Eastern Conference by eight points, want to make a splash and shake up their roster? Well it is never easy to get a read on their GM Glen Sather, so it would shock few if they went hard for Nash.
They have the assets, even if Howson asks for the moon. Start with a solid two-way player like Brandon Dubinsky, add young d-man Michael Del Zotto then start thinking prospects.
Chris Kreider and JT Miller are high on the Rangers prospect board, and both are appealing pieces to a Jackets team that are scrubbing their cupboards bare and starting fresh. One of them would likely have to be involved, as well as a pick.
It may be a steep price for the Rangers to take two roster players and a top prospect for Nash, but he might become an all-world player skating with Gaborik, so the risk may be worth the reward.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Oh, centre of the Universe. Where would we be without you?
Of course the Leafs are interested in Nash. Why wouldn’t they be? It has made for a week of never ending speculation around town about what assets they would happily fork over and who they would not dare deal for him.
They can do it in the Jake Gardiner, Joe Colborne, Grabovski and a pick way. Or they can do big and do Lupul and a 1st. Either way, some people will scream with joy and others will run for the hills. But such is the nature of Leaf Nation.
There is no question that they could use his offensive skills, and they have no problem spending money on players who sit in the press box, so why not pay for one who would play on the top line?
Does Burke make the move? Unlikely. Jeff Carter would be a better, and cheaper, fit anyways. But will Leaf Nation dream about the possibilities until the last minute? Of course they will.
Why would the Canucks trade for a player like Nash? Well that is a good question. They have the assets, and have struggled to find consistent secondary scoring for years.
They have the pieces that would be needed to pry Nash out of Howson’s grasp. Cory Schneider is where any deal would start, and while this deal seems unlikely, it could theoretically work.
Would they dare add Cody Hodgson to a deal for Nash? It seems doubtful considering how well a suddenly healthy Hodgson is playing. Former first round pick Jordan Schroeder could be added in and then a pick on top.
This deal seems far-fetched considering the advantageous positions the ‘Nucks are in with their two-headed goalie attack. But as we all know, you should never say never.