Rick Nash is starting to look like the Ernie Banks of hockey.
Banks was one of the greatest players in baseball history and made the Baseball Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, he was on some very poor Chicago Cubs teams none of which made it to the playoffs, much less the World Series.
Nash may become one of hockey's all-time greats. His scoring instincts, puck control and skating speed are incredible. He is one of those special players who can dominate a game.
Unfortunately, he is on a Columbus team that never seems to do anything right. Whether it's disastrous draft choices like Nikita Filatov or equally catastrophic trades and contracts like Jeff Carter and Fyodor Tyutin, the Blue Jackets franchise seems to be going nowhere fast.
Adam Proteau, among others, believes that it would benefit both Nash and the Blue Jackets for Nash to be traded. Nash would go to a contender and have a much better shot at the Cup. The Jackets would get a very good return on Nash, and without him on the roster, would be more likely to get the sort of transformational picks that would help them turn things around.
Nash would certainly make a big impact on the Islanders. Add him to the top line with John Tavares and Matt Moulson, and that line would be unstoppable. That would be the best line in the NHL and it would make the Islanders a sure-fire playoff team and bona fide Cup contender.
With their enormous cap space, large pool of quality prospects and core of talented players, the Islanders would seem to be ideally suited to make a play for Nash. There are, however, some issues.
Nash's presence on the roster has not prevented the Jackets from getting top picks. Other than 2009 when they made their one trip to the playoffs and last year when they foolishly traded their eighth overall pick for Jeff Carter, the Jackets have never picked out of the top ten and have had 4 top five picks, including Nash. This year, they appear poised to get the first overall pick for the second time in their short history.
Nash is a rare talent, and the face of the franchise. Trading him would be an incredibly risky move, and Jackets' management has understandably been reluctant to do it. I suspect that, in the end, they will not move him.
Even if they did, however, I doubt the Islanders would bite. Snow has said all along that he would not take any short cuts on the path to building a champion. This would be a major one. It would likely cost the Islanders at least one front-line player, one or more blue-chip prospects and several quality draft picks.
Apart from the Ryan Smyth trade in which Snow gave up a mid first-round pick in a weak draft and a poor first-round prospect from the Milbury era, he has not made that kind of a trade. And Snow does not seem like the sort of general manager who would convince, say, Kyle Okposo to sign a long-term deal and then trade him as would certainly happen in a deal to get Nash.
All in all, this is a non-starter and will not happen.
Rick Nash has apparently given the green light for CLB to at least kick the tires on a possible deal to trade him. It's a matter, at this point, of what CLB would want and what teams Nash would be willing to go to.
The Islanders would certainly be on the short list of teams CLB could make an acceptable deal with that could also handle Nash's cap hit. Whether Garth Snow would pull the trigger on such a deal is another question. I am doubtful as to that.
The other question is whether Nash would want to go to the Isles. I am sure that he would LOVE to be John Tavares' linemate and that he would also be impressed by the Islanders' prospect pool.
The big issues are the arena and the related issue of the Islanders' long term future. If such a deal were to get to that point, I could see Nash's agent using his leverage to get Charles Wang to make a commitment on moving to Queens or Brooklyn by a date certain if no deal is forthcoming for the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. If that were to happen, I could see Nash's coming here in a positive light even with the loss of assets it would entail.