To be honest, I didn't even plan on including Rick Nash in our series of Trade Target articles, but given the tidal wave of discussion taking over NHL circles today, in light of recent developments, he's worth talking about. As TSN's Bob McKenzie put it this morning:
Last week, in no uncertain terms, NHL teams were told Nash was not available and this week, he is. For the right team, anyway.
Less than two weeks to the NHL trade deadline, that is nothing less than a seismic shift.
That doesn't mean he'll necessarily be traded by the deadline but it does mean there has been a significant change in his status from last week to this week.
And while sources have confirmed to TSN what Lavoie and Portzline respectively reported in the last 12 hours, the real story is this:
None of this would or could be happening if Rick Nash didn't want it to happen.
#61 / Left Wing / Columbus Blue Jackets
Jun 16, 1984
|2011 - Rick Nash||56||18||21||39||-22||28||4||0||1||215||8.3|
So let's get down to business... should the Predators pursue what would be the biggest catch of the NHL trade market this winter?
What Rick Nash would bring to the Nashville Predators
The total package - speed, size, skill, competitiveness, work ethic... you simply can't find many faults with this guy outside of his address. He's topped the 30-goal mark six times in the last seven seasons, which includes 2005-6 when he only played 54 games. In the past he's shown a willingness to take on whatever role a coach gives him (including a fair amount of PK work under Ken Hitchcock), so ego doesn't seem to be a problem, either.
And he's 27. There's plenty of tread left on those tires.
Simply put, he would instantly be the best winger in franchise history.
And just think, what if they got Ville Leino from Buffalo, too? We could actually have a Nash-Ville combination...
This is where things get dicey. Nash's cap hit is $7.8 million through the 2017-2018 season, and his annual salary is higher than that average during the final four years of the deal. That's a massive chunk of cash that would likely crowd out the oft-cited goal of keeping Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber & Ryan Suter all wearing Predators Gold.
What he might cost in trade
A king's ransom, you can be sure, and it wouldn't just be picks & prospects.
Young, proven NHL talent would be required going the other way. Think Colin Wilson, not Taylor Beck or Blake Geoffrion. Think Ryan Ellis or Roman Josi, not Jonathon Blum or Mattias Ekholm.
As @Cellblock303 noted on Twitter earlier, there's little to no chance anyway that Columbus would trade Nash within the division, and watch him come back into their building several times each season. Even when you consider the proposed realignment that the NHL nearly pushed through a few months ago, that would have made it even less likely, since teams will be even more likely to meet current divisional opponents at playoff time.
I see this conversation sparking up in the comments of several other articles here, however, so let's bring all that talk together in one place:
Can the Predators pursue a deal for Rick Nash, and how far should they go to achieve it?