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.