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 Hall of Fame Class

By Thomas Waind

2012 Hall of Fame Inductees: Pavel Bure, Mats Sundin, Joe Sakic and Adam Oates

Wow this is a very deep draft class! Everyone of the four players elected to the Hall of Fame  had fantastic careers that perfectly define what the Hockey Hall of Fame is all about. All four had a positive impact on the game with their excellence, leadership, influence and consistency.

Joe Sakic is a personal favourite of mine. The product of Burnaby BC is a proven winner, captaining the Avalanche to 2 Stanley Cups. He has also proven himself on the world stage taking a gold medal home from the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. It is said that he may have one of the most lethal wrist shots in NHL history and his 625 career goals would attest to that. “Burnaby Joe” is easily one of the best captains in NHL history and I am extremely happy for him.

Mats Sundin definately deserves this. He is the last Leafs captain to captain a team to the playoffs in 2004 and he was the first European to be taken first overall in a draft ever when the Nordiques took him in the 1989 draft. People have questioned his induction because of his failure to capture a Stanley Cup but if you look at his resume you will see he has led Sweden to three World Championships and an Olympic gold medal in the 2006 Turin Olympics. Sundin is a class act, true captain and a winner and being a Leafs fan I am ecstatic to see another Leaf in the Hall.

Although the critcs have doubted Sundin, I am more skeptical of the inductions of Oates and Bure. Don’t get me wrong both belong in the Hall. Oates is one of the best passing forwards of the 90’s racking up 1079 assists over a 22 season career where he wore the uniform of seven different teams. He was just named the new head coach for Washington Tuesday also. Great day for Oates.

Bure was one of the first of a wave of Russian snipers to break into the NHL and really put Vancouver on the map with his unreal scoring touch. Injuries shortened his career to 702 games but he stil managed 437 goals with five 50+ goals two of them he topped 60. A longer career would put him in the discussion of best scorers ever with The Rocket, The Jet and Super Mario.

In a ballot that included Brendan Shanahan and the late Pat Burns I  was surpried to see that both Oates and Bure made it. Shanahan is a proven winner with three Stanley Cup rings and an Olympic gold medal in the storied 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Didn’t quite put up the same numbers as Oates and wasn’t the pure scorer Bure was, but has a better playoff and international track record than both combined.

When Pat Burns lost bis battle with cancer in earl 2010, the NHL lost one of the best coaches of all time. An all-time record of 501-353 with a Stanley Cup in 2003 Burns is one of the most winning coaches in NHL history. He coached for Montreal, Toronto, Boston and New Jersey until he retired in 2005. I thought Burns was a lock this year and if his family has to wait one more year for Burns to get the recognition he so rightfully deserves, then there is a serious flaw in the induction process. He is only 16th on all-time regular season wins but is 6th in all-time playoff wins. He would have likely still be coaching today if his life wasn’t cut short at the age of 58. Hopefully we’ll see his picture hanging in the Hall next year.