Do you remember what December 23rd felt like as a kid? Do you remember going to school that day, knowing that once noon hit that you would be on your way home? Do you remember how good it felt to get on the bus, or in your parents car, or in that stranger’s van (with no windows, of course)? And then subsequently, how good it felt to get home, knowing that Christmas was just two sleeps away?
Do you remember that feeling? The anticipation that built, the butterflies, the adrenaline, the jitters and the like, knowing that you were two sleeps away from an over sized, jolly, benevolent old fellow climbing down your chimney to leave you all sorts of toys and presents?
Now that was joyous.
If you weren’t Christian, or if you didn’t celebrate Christmas, first of all, I’m sorry, and second of all then I guess you enjoyed lighting those little Jew candles and spinning clay tops, or something. (I’m just kidding, but no really, you probably just should have celebrated Christmas, so that this analogy was a tad bit more relevant).
Can you remember that anticipation? Because I can. I’m feeling it right now. I know what you’re thinking, what? How? It’s February. What good, on the scale of National Liverwurst Day to Christmas, could possibly come out of February?
As I write this blog, us hockey fans are currently three sleeps away from the most wondrous part of the regular season, the trade deadline.
On February 27th, teams all over the NHL will be scrambling, trying to find that last piece (or pieces) that they need to make a deep run into the playoffs, or if they aren’t making the playoffs, they will be looking to sell those players that have either become expendable, or will be unrestricted free agents at years end. If they haven’t made a deal yet, they will at the very least be checking their lists twice because once 3pm EST hits, all trades are off the table until the 2012 NHL Draft.
But going out there, and picking up what you need is never that easy.
Teams frequently will not trade to those within their division (most times, even conference), because they don’t want to help their competition, unless that means of course that they are being grossly overpaid. Because why wouldn’t you trade Alexei Yashin for some scrub winger, Zdeno Chara and a 2nd overall pick (Jason Spezza).
Oh, Mike Milbury.
Anyway, as you get closer to the deadline, and as less players become available, the prices of the available players, inevitably goes up. So, how much do you pay for that third line winger? How much do you pay for that top 4 defensemen? And how much do you pay for that ever elusive superstar?
It varies from year to year, but this year, the answer to those questions are; a 2nd round pick, a 2nd and 4th round pick, and entirely too much.
The actual answer to how much you will pay this year for that ever elusive superstar has not been made evident yet, but it has been made clear that this years bell of the ball, Columbus Blue Jacket’s star forward, Rick Nash, is not being traded for anything less than a young roster player, a top prospect, and a first round pick.
Is he worth it? To an extent.
Are they going to get it? We’ll see.
Either way, it won’t be easy. Why? Two reasons, his cap hit and his no movement clause. There aren’t many teams out there than can just take on 7.8 million dollars. Sure, some teams could move players out to be able to afford it, but then they would have to take into account that they are stuck with 7.8 million dollars tied up into one player. Sure, Rich Nash is an incredible player, but is he worth 7.8 million a year? Is he going to be worth it for the next six years?
Nash has put up at least 30 goals in six of his past seven seasons, while putting up 40 for twice with little to no assistance. Yes, the players around him were professional players. Yes, they had to have talent to get this far. I get that, but imagine the kind of damage this kind of player could do with a number one center (that isn’t Jeff Carter..) or with someone that fit his play style. If Phil Kessel is having the dynamite year he is having because he has finally built some chemistry with a player like Lupul, imagine the damage Nash could do if he played with Giroux? Or Thornton? Or the Sedins/Kesler? Or Datsyuk/Zetterberg? Or even Kopitar/Richards?
The thought alone is enough to excite any hockey fan. It’s our dream to see star players and imagine them on our team, playing alongside our home town favorites, playing alongside our own superstars.
When it comes down to it, we want everyone. We see stars, we want them. We want Ovechkin. We want Malkin. We even want Crybaby Crosby, but it just isn’t likely. Those players are never available, and for good reason. They are the untouchables. They are the players that never get traded, and up until these past few weeks, Nash was one of those untouchables. He was the face of the franchise in Columbus (I suppose for all intents and purposes, he still is).
But does he want to be? Would you want to be?
I know that it’s a part of an athlete’s job to play where he is signed. I know that it’s their job to play the sport to the best of their ability day in and day out, but how do you give it your all when you know you’re not wanted? How do you play as hard as you can, when you know that any minute, you could receive a phone call and be told that you’re heading to Philadelphia? Or Los Angeles?
I guess the good thing for players like Nash and Carter is that they can’t get the phone call that Jeff got over the summer that said, “Hey… buddy… How ya doing? Great. So, listen. You’re going to Columbus.”
That’s a phone call that no NHL player wants to hear.
Poor Jack Johnson.
The only positive for Nash is that he has a no movement clause, and ultimately, he gets to choose where he ends up because he doesn’t have to accept a trade if he doesn’t want to go there. So, at the very least, he’ll likely be moved to a market that appreciates hockey and that can afford to give him the support that he needs to thrive.
The problem here is that those same teams aren’t willing to part with the pieces that GM Scott Howson thinks that Nash demands in return. Is he asking too much? Probably not. He’s probably asking for fair value, but since he has a limited selection in which to trade to, I believe that from here on out, Nash’s trade value will only diminish and that if Howson wants to move him, he’ll have to accept less than Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek, and a 1st Round Pick, because quite frankly, he’s not going to get it.
In that case, Howson will have a decision to make very shortly. Does Nash stay a Blue Jacket (for at least the remainder of the regular season and maybe onward?) or does he accept less to move forward with his plans?
For me, ideally, he would be on the move, if for nothing else but to end the anticipation and to be a game changer, adding offensive depth for a run to the Stanley Cup (but only for any of the teams that I follow, for anyone else, I say stay in Columbus!).
I think that he brings a lot to the table. I know that a lot of people will argue with me and say that he’s not worth it, that he doesn’t bring enough to command 7.8 million dollars a year, but I believe that he does. Am I saying that taking a player with a 7.8 million dollar cap hit, and a six year contract is an ideal situation? No. Would I rather have Kovalchuk at 6.6 million dollars for the next forever? Absolutely. But I can guarantee you that Kovalchuk is not going anywhere for many years to come, and neither are most other star forwards. It’s not too often that players of this caliber become available, and you have to take it for what it is (or leave it).
The only problem I have with acquiring Nash is that you don’t want to give up too much of your future for a player that doesn’t drastically change your present. Realistically, it doesn’t make sense for the Flyers or the Red Wings to pick up Rick Nash. Their problem isn’t that they can’t score enough goals. The Flyers are currently number two in the NHL, and the Red Wings are tied for third.
For the Flyers, it’s not a secret that their back checking is non-existent. It’s not a secret that their defense is collapsing, and it’s certainly not a secret that their goaltenders are struggling. Therefore, it doesn’t make much sense to go out and pick up a 30 goal scorer just because.
For the Red Wings, they know that they’ll be in trouble defensively in the years to come with the possibility of Lidstrom retiring, and Stuart moving out West in the off season. Therefore, they might not want to trade away key pieces for a star forward, when they’re going to have to keep their eye on the back end.
At the end of the day, I don’t want to see Nash in New York. I don’t want to see him in Boston, and I certainly don’t want to see him in Vancouver.
But if the asking price comes down, you can bet that Detroit and Philadelphia would have to be back in the game, at least inquiring. But for now, assuming that the price stays the same, and that Philadelphia and Detroit are out of the game. The only logical step is for Nash to come here, to Phoenix. Yes, I know they’re not in the market for Nash. Yes, I know that they can hardly afford to pay Bissonette to sit on the bench, and yes, I also know that they might not be here next year.
But how awesome would it be?
There’s not a hotter team in the NHL, and can you imagine how much better they would be if new ownership came in, and added a franchise player to the pack? It would be glorious. I can tell you for sure that I’d have season tickets for the 2012-2013 season, and that I’d be touting a Nash jersey (as well as a Yandle, that much is obvious).
Either way, I don’t see Nash being moved until the Summer. I don’t see Howson getting what he wants, and I don’t see him lowering that price until he feels like he has to (assuming he’s not fired by then).
For now, the deadline is only three sleeps away, and there is still a lot to be done (ironically enough, sleep is the one thing that most GM’s and players will not be taking part of in the next three days). So, rest your eyes, and get some sleep because Sunday into Monday is going to be (at least) as glorious as the Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae with Oreos at Applebees.
Yeah, I know. It’s delicious. Go have one, thank me later.
Merry 2011-2012 NHL trade deadline to all, and to all a goodnight.