Rick Nash has been the face of the Columbus Blue Jackets ever since the early 2000s. Trading him would be impossible, right?
The Jackets have only made the playoffs once in their franchise history. Nash has played in four career playoff games and hasn't won one. Maybe it's time to move on from Nash and rebuild on a new course.
Nash is under contract until 2018, so a trade would mean that the Blue Jackets would receive a lot of great young players and draft picks in return for the rebuilding process. He can be a valuable offensive power forward for any team and is one of those players that can take any team over the hump.
Here are five franchises that would love to have Nash if the Jackets were to trade him.
The Edmonton Oilers have a plethora of young talent. Guys like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle have revived the franchise, and they have a bright future.
That said, they play in a hockey-rabid city, and it's interesting that the team hasn't been winning despite having Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle in the top of the league in points. Perhaps they need some veteran punch. Nash would help.
Ryan Smyth's huge contract expires this season, so they'll have the cap room to deal. Trading one of their big three to Columbus, along with a few draft picks, will be enough for the Jackets.
Columbus gets a new building piece as a focal point for the franchise. They also get high draft picks (Edmonton will most likely be a lottery team this year) and new hope.
Edmonton, on the other hand, gets a hungry player who will be able to play alongside Nugent-Hopkins and thrive.
The Washington Capitals already have Alex Ovechkin. Why would they need another left winger?
With Nash, the Caps will be able to have two deep lines. Nash is a physical player, and despite being a minus-19 this season, he's been a solid defensive body. The reason why his plus/minus is so poor this year is because of the Jackets being an awful team. In the past, Nash has had solid plus/minus ratings on other atrocious Blue Jacket teams.
So who can the Caps give up?
They have Evgeny Kuznetsov, who is tearing up the World Juniors and has been compared to Evgeni Malkin. Kuznetsov will become the focal point of the new Blue Jackets direction.
Washington will need to add a few more players to be able to do the trade because they are at the salary cap. Alex Semin's contract expires this season, so $6.7 million will come off the books.
Adding young goaltender Braden Holtby, who shined last year in his brief stint with the Capitals, and a gritty veteran in Brooks Laich might be a deal sealer for the Jackets.
What? The Chicago Blackhawks?
Why would the Blue Jackets trade their franchise player to a division rival?
Because the Hawks have a lot to offer.
How about Patrick Sharp, Niklas Hjalmarsson, prospect Brandon Saad and a few draft picks?
The Blue Jackets gain a solid scorer, a shut-down defenseman and a prospect who was drafted in the second round last summer, but has already seen some NHL action this year.
It totally gives Columbus a solid core of players to build around and it puts Chicago above Detroit as the best team in the Central.
Can it happen?
One can speculate.
The Florida Panthers have turned things around and lead the Southeast Division. That being said, they've allowed more goals than they've scored throughout most of the season. They can use an offensive scoring threat who can back check in order to be more viable in that department.
The Panthers can also market Nash and make him their franchise player. They've had difficulty in drawing fans to the arena in recent years. With Nash as their franchise player, it should facilitate the job for the Panthers sales staff.
The Panthers have the best farm system in the league according to Hockey's Future. They have the pieces to be a playoff team, but mortgaging a few of their prospects for Nash to turn them into a contender will be worth it.
The Panthers can trade Evgenii Dadanov, goalie Jacob Markstrom and defenseman Erik Gudbranson for Nash. The Jackets will have three solid prospects to build around the team with.
Meanwhile, the Panthers will still have solid guys like Jonathan Huberdeau and Rocco Grimaldi in their farm system, and they'll become an instant contender in the Eastern Conference with Nash.
The Los Angeles Kings have several large contracts expiring this summer. Dustin Penner's and Jarret Stoll's cap hits come off the books. This will open up room for Rick Nash to come to Tinseltown and play alongside Mike Richards.
The Kings have the lowest goal total this season. They've struggled to score. Don't think they won't need a guy like Nash to spark their offense?
The Kings have budding goaltender Jonathan Bernier and young forward Andrei Loktionov they can deal. Throw in a proven shut-down defenseman like Rob Scuderi and several draft picks, and the Kings can possibly get Nash.