What Happens Now : The Saga of Rick Nash Continues

By Jack Arnott

You heard it first from Dump and Chase Hockey; Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, the biggest free agents of the year are off the market. They both signed identical 13 year contracts that will pay them each 98 million dollars with the Minnesota Wild. The Wild now have both players under contract until they are 40, a long time to guarantee pay. While these two signings may be the biggest news in the NHL off season so far, there are potential trades to come this summer that could eclipse them by a long shot.

Now that those two prized free agents have been crossed off everyone’s list, teams will be desperate to go after big winger Rick Nash.

First of all is Columbus Blue Jacket’s captain Rick Nash. Nash has been the face of the Blue Jackets since he was drafted #1 overall by the franchise in 2002. The 28 year old has been loyal to his team for his tenure there, and proved that by signing an 8 year contract extension on July 3, 2009 worth $62.4 million. Taking effect in the 2010-2011 season, this contract gave Columbus fans a reason to hope. But after the dismal season that the Blue Jackets experienced in the 2011-12 season, Nash has asked for a trade and is now being shopped. The only problem is that he has a no-trade clause; therefore he will choose a destination.

His short list is said to include Detroit, the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and San Jose.

Detroit could really use a defenseman after the retirement of future Hall of Famer Nick Lidstrom and the mutiny of Brad Stuart to San Jose, but if the offer came up, they couldn’t turn down a premier forward like Nash. Nevertheless, Detroit is in the Central division, the same division as Columbus and it is doubtful that the Blue Jackets would like to see Nash six times a year in an opposing jersey.

The New York Rangers are rumoured to be a favourite in the Rick Nash sweepstakes. Rangers GM Glen Sather has reportedly wanted too see Nash as a Blueshirt for a long time, and sees this as his chance to go after him. The Rangers are looking to upgrade their offense and Nash is seen as the piece of the puzzle they are missing. The only problem is that Sather seems to be unwilling to part with any of his top prospects or young talents, something that could remove them from relevance if another team is offering prospects.

Pittsburgh is another destination that Nash could go to. After clearing millions of dollars in salary cap space by trading center Jordan Staal and D-man Zbynek Michalek to Carolina and Phoenix respectively, the Penguins have cash to spend. Most people thought the Penguins were clearing cap room for Zach Parise with those trades, but now that Parise is off the market, they could go hard after Nash.

Philadelphia is said to be one of the teams that is less interested in Nash, but they are still in play. The Flyers could use a big body up front, and at 6’4 218 Ib, Nash certainly delivers on that front. He would also provide leadership to the youth of Philadelphia. However, Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson is rumoured to be asking for future superstars like Sean Couturier or Brayden Schenn as part of the deal.

After being bounced in the first round of the playoffs this year, San Jose is also looking to enhance the skill of their forward corps. Nash is one of only four players to score 30 goals in each of the past 5 seasons. The other players who managed that incredible feat are New Jersey’s Ilya Kovalchuk, Calgary’s Jarome Iginla and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin. That puts Nash in heavy company, and he could be just what the Sharks need to break into the West’s Elite.

No matter what team Nash goes to, he is going to make a difference. As my colleague Thomas wishfully says, “He could still end up as a Leaf”. But let’s get serious, do you think Burke would trade for a Canadian superstar? Seems as though Bobby Ryan would be more to Burke’s liking.

Sorry Thomas.


2012 Draft Preview

By Jack Arnott

The 50th NHL Entry Draft will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania tonight at the newly constructed Consol Energy Center June 22-23, 2012. The rankings have been determined, and #1 prospect Nail Yakupov is set to go #1 to the Edmonton Oilers. But does Edmonton really need another young forward? They already have an influx of talent of front. With forwards like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner and Magnus Paajarvi they don’t need any more gamebreakers. What they could use is a good defenseman, and that is where the confusion begins.

If the Oilers decide not go for Nail, who will they pick second?

Well if they do decide not to draft Nail, watch for them to trade down a pick or two where they will snap up a defenseman, and another team will take the skilled Russian sniper with the #1 pick. But who will be taken 2nd overall?

I believe that Ryan Murray has the potential to go 2nd overall. They key thing about Murray is that he is not risky pick. All the scouts that have seen him play believe that he will play in the NHL some day. However, it may be as a 3rd or 4th defensemen, they aren’t quite sure. He only recorded 31 points in 46 in the ‘Dub this season. Despite that, he is the surest pick in the draft and could be a mainstay on any teams blueline.

Another player that could be snapped up 2nd is Swedish forward Filip Forsberg. Already previewed on my blog, he blends size with skill and standing at 6’2 and 181 pounds, Forsberg only has room to increase his advantages. He lead a strong Swedish team with 4 goals in 5 games at the Ivan Hlinka tournament in the summer against players of his own age. Forsberg can also play a 200 foot game and would be a welcome addition to a team that needs some size up front.

Mikhail Grigorenko is forward that has an outside shot of being picked 2nd in the 2012 NHL Entry draft. The best prospect from the QMJHL challenged Yakupov for #1 prospect status for much of the season. He is another big player at 6’3, 200 pounds and seems ahead of his age group, recording 85 points in only 59 games in the Q. Known to take over games with his talent, the Russian factor will work against him and he may fall.

The real dark horse is Russian center Alex Galchenyuk.  After a season where he recorded 83 points in 68 games with in the OHL with the Sarnia Sting, he missed all but two regular season games this year due to a knee injury. Galchenyuk was drafted #1 in the 2010 OHL Priority Selection Draft and he has a tremendous amount of skill. Ranked at #16 by the International Scouting Service, a team that is looking to take a risk could hit it big with him.