Rick Nash Trade Rumors: Should the Maple Leafs Trade Jake Gardiner for Nash?

Joey WilsonCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 09:  Jake Gardiner #51 of the Toronto Maple Leafs  skates during an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on February 9, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

Since word leaked out last week that Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson was willing to listen to offers for superstar power forward Rick Nash, rumors have been abound as to his possible landing place. Given that Nash has a no-trade clause in his contract, it was widely known that he would have the final say in any trade and that he would definitely have some preferences as to his destination.

According to several reports, Rick Nash gave a list of five teams that he would be willing to go to, and wouldn't you know, the hometown Toronto Maple Leafs were on that list.

This of course has set off a firestorm of speculation as to whether Brian Burke would be interested in the Brampton, Ontario native, and what it would take to pry him away from Columbus.

Former Leafs GM and current AM 640 analyst Bill Watters got the rumors started when he tweeted that the Leafs and Jackets had discussed a deal that would send Rick Nash and Kristian Huselius to Toronto for Luke Schenn, Nazem Kadri, Mikhail Grabovski and Mike Komisarek. While the legitimacy of that offer was being debated, many other rumours poured out over the net. Most Leaf fans began salivating at the possibility of the big, talented power forward donning the blue and white, and most agreed that the rumored deal is one that they would make if they were in Burke's shoes.

All of that seemed fine and dandy, until Damien Cox wrote that the reality of the situation is that any trade for Rick Nash that the Maple Leafs would make would start with talented young rookie defenseman Jake Gardiner. 

Would it really cost the premier rookie defenseman in the NHL to get Rick Nash? More importantly, would Brian Burke part with the impressive 21-year-old rearguard? I want to point out that the Leafs would need to give up more than just Gardiner alone, however. It is Gardiner that would be the centerpiece of the trade, with likely additions in the way of a draft pick and a roster player such as Nikolai Kulemin and/or Mikhail Grabovski (for cap purposes) likely needing to be included as well.

The issue is that while acquiring Rick Nash would certainly give the Leafs the power forward they have coveted for a long time, and a player that they could definitely use, would it be worth it to pay for him with a defenseman who could be a key building block on defence for years to come? Given that Nash would not put the Leafs over the top right away, I am not so sure.

What say you? Would you trade Gardiner away to get Rick Nash?