Should the Chicago Blackhawks Pursue Rick Nash?

Should the Chicago Blackhawks Pursue Rick Nash?

Reports surfaced on Monday night that Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash might be open to waiving his no-movement clause to get out of hockey hell Columbus.

Should the Blackhawks swing for the fences and make a play for Nash? And what would it take to get him?

First, let’s discuss the more exciting question: what would it take to get Nash out of Columbus? There have been two popular Nash rumors floating for the last couple of days, and both of them involved one the the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

The first has Nash going to the New York Rangers in a deal that could involve a package of center Brandon Dubinsky, top prospect Chris Kreider and a first round pick. Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin have also been mentioned in the Rangers rumors.

The second has Boston showing interest in Nash, with Columbus asking for a package including netminder Tuukka Rask and one of Milan Lucic or David Krejci in the deal.

There are fatal flaws to both of those trades. The most obvious is that two legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, that really aren’t showing signs of needing a blockbuster trade, would be giving up core players from their NHL roster.

From New York’s perspective, Dubinsky is a guy they just made a long-term financial commitment to over the summer, and Kreider is considered one of the top prospects in the game. Certainly Boston wouldn’t move one of their more important veteran forwards and sacrifice their goaltending depth to get a guy that might score a few goals for them.

But let’s use those trades as a framework for what it might take to get Nash out of Columbus.

With regards to the package Boston would give up in theory (emphasis on theory), there’s little/nothing the Blackhawks could do to match a deal involving Rask and one of those two forwards. But Boston giving up on the heir apparent to Tim Thomas’ crease is doubtful at best.

The Blackhawks have a player on their roster that compares favorably to Dubinsky, though.

Dubinsky will turn 26 in late April and has disappointed offensively this season, posting just 24 points (six goals, 18 assists) in 51 games. He has three years remaining on that new contract, carrying in $4.2M cap hit.

There’s a center on the Hawks who turns 26 in early June who has also disappointed offensively this year, registering 28 points (16 goals, 12 assists) in 52 games. The offensive production and roles on their given rosters are very similar, but the Hawks’ center has just two more seasons on his current deal at a $3.375M cap hit.

David Bolland could be part of a package to get Nash out of Columbus.

Kreider is currently a teammate of Blackhawks prospect Kevin Hayes at Boston College, where he’s piled up 18 goals and 15 assists in 29 games. But the Hawks have some prospects that have received a lot of attention over the last couple years that could be part of the mix.

Brandon Pirri and Jeremy Morin are having solid seasons in Rockford, and might be able to make a jump to the ice in Columbus soon. While giving up a player of that profile and ability would hurt, a look down the road indicates that they might be replaced internally by as early as next year.

Yes, there is always risk in considering moving a good prospect, as we pointed out when looking back at the Phantoms of the lockout season a while back. But making a bold, blockbuster move to make a run for a Cup sometimes involves risk.

Could the Blackhawks put together a package to get Nash out of Columbus? Probably.

But should they?

The first flaw in the idea of making a blockbuster happen with Columbus are two simple realities:

  1. Teams don’t like trading superstars, captains, face-of-the-franchise guys to divisional rivals (except Chelios).
  2. Teams don’t like moving really good young prospects inside the division, either.

So just those two realities should kill the conversation immediately. But let’s take it a step further.

Nash has a contract that should be viewed by honest fans in Chicago as being similar to a baseball player already in this town: Alfonso Soriano.

A look at Nash’s numbers indicate that he’s trending the wrong direction. His point total has gone down in each of the last two seasons, and he’s on pace to have perhaps a third consecutive drop this year. Furthermore, he’s only passed the 70-point mark once in his NHL career.

Certainly he’s a prime-time goal scorer. He’s scored at least 30 goals in four of the last five seasons, including 40 during the 2008-09 season. But his goal numbers have tailed off as well, falling to 33 and 32 the last two seasons. This year, he’s at only 18 goals, on pace for another season in the low-30s (if even that).

Nash will turn 28 in late June, which shouldn’t be a deterrent. But his contract should look about as tempting as Snookie to Hawks GM Stan Bowman. He has a $7.8M cap hit until the end of the 2017-18 season and his contract includes a no-movement clause from 2010-11 through 2014-15 and a no-trade clause from 2015-18.

In the final year of his contract, Nash will be 33 years old, making $8.2M, and has the right to veto any trade.

Does that sound like a deal you want on the books in Chicago?

A big, physical left wing that’s scored over 30 goals per season sounds great right now, but Nash isn’t worth the price tag, either in assets or dollars/years.

If the answer to “could” the Blackhawks make a deal for Nash is “maybe,” the answer to the “should” question is a big, bold NO.

Leave a comment