I don’t think we’ve really weighed in on the whole Rick Nash to Ottawa thing here. I mean, we have in an off-beat “oh yeah and that’s also happening” kind of way, but we’ve never really dedicated a post to it. Part of it is that the 6th Sens guys have been pretty serious about covering every aspect of the potential trade (and then adding “please don’t” at the end of every post). The other is that Scott Howson’s asking price was so high that it was hard to imagine the rumored prospects-and-picks-and-Nick Foligno package actually getting it done.
But of course there’s going to be an element of regret the day after Nash is finally traded to the Rangers, especially seeing how relatively little Sather had to give up. Dubinsky is a quality, two-way top-six player, but as the cornerstone of a trade package he’s lacking. He’s a 50 point player who put up 34 points last year. Artem Anisimov is skilled and improving, but is a one-dimensional goal scorer, sort of like the Kristian Huselius that Columbus just got rid of. Tim Erixon is a quality prospect, though one that New York didn’t have to give up very much to obtain (two 2nd rounders and a shitty prospect, as Erixon was refusing to sign with Calgary, who drafted him 23rd overall back in 2009). Finally, they gave up what’s going to be a late 1st round pick.
So, three nice guys and a lottery ticket for a franchise players and captain who will pay his own salary in jersey sales. And Columbus had to send back a 3rd round pick and a prospect, albeit a minor leaguer, to make it happen. It’s sort of incredible.
Also incredible that Howson managed to get that package without any of New York’s truly high end prospects or up-and-comers. You’d think he would almost prefer a one-for-one, Nash-for-Stepan-or-Kreider-or-Del Zotto trade, if only for the cost savings. Instead he adds depth to a lineup that’s all depth at this point. This brings us back to Ottawa’s rumored package for Nash, and the pervasive feeling among the blogging community that Nash isn’t worth it.
Let’s look at the criticisms of Nash. I don’t dispute any of them, though I wonder if they matter.
He’s past his prime: Yup. Completely. You’ll start to see a steady decline in his numbers, and by the end of the remaining six years you’ll be lucky to have a top six forward. But this production is only disappointing relative to that of the package going back and the salary cost. Let’s say the package going back would be Foligno, Lehner, Zibanejad and a 1st round pick. Two prospects, a borderline top six player, and a pick which, granted, could land just about anywhere. That package could certainly outproduce a declining Nash, but if you’re a GM and you have to plan around your team’s projected performance, you can’t pencil in anything around prospects. There’s too much variability. I like Zibanejad a lot, but MacLean’s already calling him out at prospect development camp, he’s got concussions, he underproduced in the SEL last season, and Ottawa is already including him in trade packages. I’m not putting my chips on Mika just yet. Lehner has looked great at times, but he’s a goalie. How on earth you predict their performance is a mystery to me. Foligno is entering his prime, but is a 50 point player in the Dubinsky mould. You’re giving Columbus some choice lottery tickets there, but what you’re getting back in certainty, even if it’s certainty around declining performance, is something you can plan around. And in the short term, you basically get another Milan Michalek to play on the other side of Spezza.
Which brings us to…
He costs too much: Again, yup. His performance will probably not be worth $7.8MM a year. My question is: when would this possibly matter except in a scenario in which Ottawa is spending to the cap? At this point, Ottawa is struggling just to get to the cap floor. If Melnyk doesn’t get his money’s worth from Nash, why would I care? There are bargains up and down the lineup. An expensive and aging power forward being paid, what, about $1.8MM too much? I’m not going to lose sleep over that. It’s not like having Nash is preventing us from being in on some other high end free agent, or from re-signing a quality player. Having Nash is not paying Kovalev $5MM per. Not only that, but if there’s a salary rollback in the new CBA, Nash’s salary could perfectly align with his production, at least for the next two to three seasons.
Complaining that Nash costs too much on a non-cap team is like complaining that there was a cheaper scoreboard out there or that the team is paying too much to re-pave the parking lot.
He’s never done anything in the playoffs: Eh, neither has half our team. If Alfie retires, I think the Senators’ average age dips down to about 14.
I don’t think Nash is a sure thing—despite his performance on the international stage, chemistry with Spezza, and ability to produce on a team that has consistently been one of the worst in the league every year of its existence—and all of the criticisms of him as a player and his contract are perfectly valid and uncontested here. But what the New York Rangers gave up to slot Rick Nash alongside a premier playmaking center—hey, we’ve got one of those!—should have at least a few fans wishing Nash had considered putting Ottawa on his list.
As for Columbus…well, I do a lot of jumping up and down on Columbus on this blog, and it’s not likely to stop. But look at this lineup. It is hockey we’re talking about here, so I won’t be surprised if the team goes on some unlikely run and outperforms expectations, but which team is going to be intimidated by group of players?
Poor Nick Foligno.
Scotty, Scotty, Scotty…how did this happen? I’m trying to figure this out. It’s really hard to make sense of how Howson went from big timing offers at the deadline from what I would imagine to be all of the teams on Nash’s list (which I can only believe are all good teams gearing up for a playoff run and as such all have good players to trade) and then some (non-list teams like Ottawa and Toronto) and ended up trading for what’s essentially Nick Foligno, Zack Smith plus 10 points and minus all toughness, Patrick Weircioch and what could end up being 30th overall pick (STILL A FINE PICK BUT NOT IN EXCHANGE FOR RICK NA$H!). My best guess is that Howson played chicken with Nash’s list thinking it was going to expand if he waited long enough and he lost. Perhaps widespread interest dried up and Nash’s list remained intact. Again, that list being presumably full of good teams that may not necessarily have been particularly “desperate” to obtain a Rick Nash as they are already good teams and trade options got a bit thin. I could be (likely totally am) wrong about how this whole thing went down. It’s just a guess. One thing I do know is that these blockbuster trades pretty much always end up looking disappointing, especially when an NTC is involved. I survived Cheechoo for Heatley 2009! For Columbus’ fans sake I hope they do too. The Blue Jackets now have three 1st round picks (same amount Murray DIDN’T have to trade Jeff Carter and Rick Nash for!) in next year’s draft. One would think that for their franchise’s future that it’s crucial that they get something exciting going quick. Anyway, congratulations to the New York Rangers, I wish you nothing but less success than the Ottawa Senators in future endeavors!
I have had many a discussion with friends about obtaining Rick Nash since Ottawa made their intensions clear. I always found it important to couch everything with, “Before I start, let’s not for a second pretend that having Rick Nash on your team is a shitty situation…” The Rangers are obviously more dangerous now with him in the lineup regardless of the knocks on his career.
That out of the way, let me now say that I am firmly in the camp of being very relieved that Ottawa did not do this. Frankly, I’m a bit shocked that they were apparently quite aggressive in pursuing him. I suppose it is a GM’s job to explore all avenues to make their team better and that there is due diligence to be do’ed when a player like this is (sort of) on the market, but this early in the rebuild? I think Varada makes very valid (and terrifying!) points about Zibanejad but as fun as potentially fleecing a team by trading them a prospect that ends up being nothing is, I think given the Sens absolute wealth of them during an admitted rebuild they should hang onto them, let them play and get a clearer picture of who has what to offer. This is a rare opportunity where the franchise has the time to do this. I’m okay with Michalek-Spezza-Greening for another year to find out if Ziba/Stone/Infinity is the real deal! Did we all kiss Dave Poile’s ass for not trading any picks or prospects for years for nothing? Murray has made moves this summer and not given up shit. I commend him for it. In my opinion, Rick Nash simply never was the type of guy for what should be this team’s strategic plan.
So would I have done the “essentially Nick Foligno, Zack Smith plus 10 points and minus all toughness, Patrick Weircioch and what could end up being 30th overall pick” deal it ended up being? Still no. It is wayyyyyy better than Foligno/Zibanejad/Lehner/1st (holy FUCK typing that out really drives home how much of an overpayment that is) but let me express how much I HATE HATE HAAAAAATE that contract (so much!). It’s a Columbus banking on Nash being their franchise player contract. I gotta say, on the whole ‘Im not paying him so who cares if he’s not a high end top six forward in a few years?’ thing?.I’ll tell you who’d care, fucking EVERYONE would. Sergei Gonchar played over 20 minutes a night, put up nearly 40 points and had a very solid playoff performance and people in this town want to launch him into space! We’re a tough crowd when it comes to they money players make, roll back or no roll back. The team is at the floor now but in all goes well in a few short years Turris, Cowen, Silfverberg, Lehner/Bishop and who knows whatever other player that emerges will all be looking for new deals. A tough side effect of having an exciting young team I suppose. Now that’s not even to mention if less marquee names like Greening or Smith really start performing their respective roles effectively and command more money as well. If that sounds preposterous now look back at how the Sens got in all that cap trouble in the first place.
Ottawa hasn’t been a strong team in a number of years and I have watched them miss out on sweepstakes after sweepstakes and it’s taught me a lot. For one, it’s taught me that I haven’t felt like I’ve necessarily missed out as a fan most of the time. I didn’t feel like the Sens blew it when they missed out on Ilya Kovalchuk and I certainly don’t feel they missed out here. This isn’t to say I’m against grabbing an established guy to make the team better faster, it’s just that this seemed like such a wrong fit from the start. For me, the smart money would be Bobby Ryan. Comparable production, comparable pedigree, younger, more playoff experience, something something probably also scored a bunch of goals against Estonia internationally, and most importantly a shorter, cheaper deal if things go south. As happy as I am that Murray did not land Nash I’m equally disappointed that if he wanted a quality forward so bad that he was willing to give up top prospects that he didn’t go all in for Bobby Ryan.