What The….Nash?!

December 4, 2008; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks left wing Patrick Marleau (12) and Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Rick Nash (61) during the second period at HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA. The Sharks defeated the Jackets 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Last night a loyal Blades of Teal reader asked me via Twitter what my thoughts were regarding the possibility of Rick Nash coming to San Jose in the upcoming trade circus deadline craziness. I wanted to take a moment and seriously consider what a move like that would mean not just to the Sharks salary cap, but also to the team structure. Guys like Nash do not come easily and they most certainly do not come cheap.

For those of you unfamiliar with Rick Nash, allow me to enlighten you. Nash is currently the Captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Yes, the same Blue Jackets who are currently last in the standings in the National Hockey League. But don’t let the terrible season fool you when it comes to Nash…he may be the Captain but he certainly isn’t the problem. Drafted in the 1st round (1st overall) by the Blue Jackets in 2002, Nash is a force to be reckoned with.

I turned to TSN.ca for the quick and dirty stat rundown on Nash and here is what I found. He has 6 points in the last 6 games, he leads the team in shots with 215, ranking third in the NHL. This marks the sixth-straight season he has 200 or more shots on goal. If that isn’t enough to make you go “Who is this guy and why is he not on our team?” I’m sure hearing that last season he was ranked tied for fifth in the NHL in goals and tied for 18th in points as well as led CBJ in goals, assists and points will throw you over the edge.

Nash had a rough start to the 2011-2012 season but has shown improvement as the winter moves along and is certainly a player to keep your eyes on at all times. The Blue Jackets heavily rely on Nash for any small success they see and he is definitely the key player in Columbus. However; there is no I in TEAM and nobody likes to be the unfortunate soul carrying everyone else…and it appears Nash has reached his load limit. Nash’s huge contract came with a no trade/ no movement clause when it kicked in at the start of the 2010 season…a clause, which for the right team, he’s willing to give up. The Blue Jackets obviously realize Nash can’t move them up in the standings on his own, and they may be seriously considering a trade if they can get a collection of strong players out of it.

Rumors around the rinks have him on the trade block with Philly if the Flyers will give up some of their young talent, to include JVR and Couturier among a handful of other names, The Rangers, The Ducks, and of course…the Sharks. Apparently Nash provided the Blue Jackets with a lost of ten teams he would be willing to be traded to…and the above mentioned were included. (Again, you all know how much I hate trade rumor talk…I’m not an expert but I guess its kind of fun to break it down…)

Essentially what we’re seeing is that the only way Nash is going anywhere, is if Columbus can get a whole new team for him. Ok, maybe not a whole team, but at least two to four players who can put up points and get the Blue Jackets out of the black hole they seem to be drowning in. Most teams can afford to lose some young talent at this point, Columbus needs its desperately, even if it means giving up their Captain to get enough of it to salvage what’s left of the season for them. They need a team, not just a Captain.

We here in San Jose however, have a team that doesn’t necessarily need a superstar to dominate the other players but could definitely benefit from a seasoned point scorer like Nash. After a lot of consideration of the information on Nash available, the times I’ve seen him play, and the current structure of the Sharks, I think he would be a welcome and incredibly beneficial addition. At first blush I really didn’t like the idea of bringing him in but after really looking into it, I’m all for him joining team teal. Something to consider however, is that the Sharks will take a hit and we will definitely be seeing some players go in order to bring Nash in. I don’t even want to speculate on what kind of package of players San Jose would have to be willing to give up for him. And as far as the salary cap is concerned, you can bet on it being pushed to its limit if Nash’s face is to be seen around the Tank.

*Fun fact: When I went to CapGeek.com to check Nash’s salary, he was the number one searched player…this is serious business folks!

To put it in perspective, right now Joe Thornton, the Captain of the Sharks who as I am writing this are 9th in the overall league standings, is being paid approximately $7,000,000 annually until 2014 (for simplicity sake I’m keeping these numbers at their annual Cap Hit) while Nash, the Captain of the Blue Jackets who I’ve already told you are 30th in the overall league standings, is contracted to make approx $7,800,000 annually until 2018. Thornton is the highest paid player on the Sharks currently, and we’re talking about bringing in a guy getting paid $800,000 more a year…staggering really when you think about it isn’t it?

Any team taking a serious look at Nash right now has got to be feeling some heat in the kitchen and I personally am very happy I am not the one in the hot seat right now. What it really comes down to is does the benefit outweigh the cost and risk and if it does are we willing to pull the trigger?

Until I know more about changes that would be made to the Sharks in order to accomodate gaining Nash, I won’t say with 100% confidence that getting him is the best move. I will tentatively say that I think he would be an asset to the team and leave it at that.

~ALH

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