NHL Trade Rumors: Rick Nash Broadway Bound?

Brad Ennis@@frayedsanity13Contributor IIIFebruary 14, 2012

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 14:  Rick Nash #61 of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrates a third period goal with teammates while playing the San Jose Sharks at Nationwide Arena on January 14, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. The San Jose Sharks won the game 2-1. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

With every trade deadline, there are a myriad of rumors that follow all the top players who are deemed “for sale” by their teams. This year’s attention grabber is Columbus Blue Jackets captain, Rick Nash.

Late Monday RDS’s Renaud Lavoie tweeted that multiple sources told him Nash is on the trade market. As if there weren't already enough speculation surrounding Nash, this report will only serve to fan the fires in the rumor mill.

Nash has a no-movement clause that normally would severely hinder the Blue Jackets' ability to trade their superstar forward. Nash has been with Columbus since he was drafted first overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

He has been the face of the franchise and has long said his loyalty lies with Columbus. Now with his 28th birthday on the horizon and a long, grueling rebuild expected for the Blue Jackets over the next several seasons, Nash likely feels the need to win now and should see his future in Columbus as bleak at best.

Don’t read too much into Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson denying any rumors related to Nash. It’s a long-standing tradition for GMs in the NHL to deny rumors, especially those pertaining to their top stars. Any rumors involving Nash would fit that bill. But it won’t stop the rumors from flying.

Still, fans across the NHL want to know: Is Nash on the move, and if so, where?

One club that continues to come up in trade speculation is the New York Rangers. The beasts in the east would certainly love to add a prolific scorer like Nash to complement their world-class goaltender and stifling defense. The problem with any scenario involving the Rangers is what it would cost.

The New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard reports that Columbus’ prime target in a deal with the Rangers for Nash would be Brandon Dubinsky. As Leonard points out, clearing Dubinsky’s salary from the books would create more than enough room under the salary cap to acquire Nash.

It’s no secret Dubinsky has struggled this season, but he’s recently picked up his play and is a high-energy guy who has garnered the love of not only the Rangers fanbase, but,more importantly, head coach John Tortorella.

Messing with team chemistry may be a risk Ranger GM Glen Sather is not willing to take. The Rangers sit in the driver's seat in the Eastern Conference, and they can certainly find character guys with a much cheaper asking price than that which comes with a guy like Nash.

There’s another big factor that a few people have pointed out in recent days. There will definitely be a fair number of buyers at the deadline this year, given how many teams are still in a playoff race. But if the Blue Jackets were to wait until the offseason, they could have 29 teams calling for Nash’s services.

Columbus should be in no great hurry to move any of its stars, with the exception of the disgruntled Jeff Carter on February 27th. The rebuild will not happen overnight, and jumping the gun on dealing their captain may only carry a marginal return. The organization would arguably benefit much more from creating a bidding war for Nash in the summer.

Ultimately, the decision belongs to the player. Nash’s no-movement clause means he can dictate where he goes. The Rangers are a great fit for Nash if he wants to win right now, but the bright lights of Broadway could distract Nash, who has been out of the spotlight since the day he entered the league.

Waiting until the summer could be a better choice for Nash and Columbus, especially as teams start lining up to join the bidding.