Toronto Maple Leafs: Fans Should Be Wary of Overrating Rick Nash

Smiley GimbelCorrespondent IFebruary 21, 2012

MONTREAL, CANADA - DECEMBER 6:  Rick Nash #61 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on December 6, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Blue Jackets defeated the Canadiens 3-2 in a shootout.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Straight off the bat I want to say that I think Rick Nash is a great player, who plays the game hard-nosed with the right set of skills to put the puck in the net with consistency.

In the right circumstances and on the right team, he would be the perfect mix to a top-six lineup. It would seem that he is built perfectly for the playoffs with dynamic leadership and power-forward size, skill set and gumption. I say "seem" because he has only lead his team to four unsuccessful playoff games.

The problem I'm having with this whole Rick Nash availability thing is all the postulation on what teams will need to give in order to get him.

I'm hearing all sorts of scenarios that give the farm for Nash—scenarios that rip the fabric off of playoff-bound teams in order to land him.

So what sort of player are you getting in Nash?

1) A large player with long wingspan, good hands, unorthodox skating style, questionable back-checking acumen—and it could be argued a bad choice production-wise for a first-overall forward pick.

2) A former Rocket Richard Trophy winner (along with Iginla & Kovalchuk)—with 41 goals in the 2003-04 season. The lowest-goal total in a Rocket Richard winner to date.

3)A point-production pace to net 55 points over a full (and healthy) season (MacArthur had more last year and is fairly close to those numbers this year).

4)A cap hit of $7.8 million until 2017-18. This season it works out to almost $142,000 a point.
For a power-forward type game, he's not getting power forward PIM's (this isn't a bad thing—I'm just suggesting that he's not banging like a power forward, which would inevitably get you higher PIM's by default).

For a first-overall pick, he's not putting up franchise numbers.

For fans to think he'll garner a top-player, a top-prospect and a top-draft pick—they haven't been paying attention to recent NHL-trade history.

What did Kovalchuk get—Heatley?

Joffrey Lupul, drafted seventh overall in the same draft, is having a far better impact playing a similar game—and is coming into his own after having a bad two years of injuries. He has been in the top 10 for scoring consistently all year.

Do you think a team would trade all this and more for Lupul?

To be fair, Nash was drafted in a weak draft year with only seven All-Stars in the entire draft. Also to be fair, as I've stated above—in the right circumstance he could be the valued piece to any playoff-bound team.

So far, he hasn't shown that he can lift a struggling team onto his shoulders and into some playoff rounds.

Strictly speaking on behalf of my Leafs, a package of a young-roster player (Gunnarson or Frattin), a decent prospect (Aulie, Blacker, Kadri or McKegg) and a couple of draft picks (second and third) can get this done.

Despite all of the haters: Komisarek could definitely be in a deal like this in order for Columbus to move closer to the floor in cap hit, rather than actual salary ($4.5 million cap hit, $3.5 million salary).

For his body of work, Nash hasn't been a player earning his $7.5 million-dollar price tag ($7.8 million cap hit).

Columbus is losing money and desperately needs to shed salary. This alone is the reason he's being shopped. In eight seasons, the highest he has been on the scoring sheet is 18th overall in 2008-09. Columbus has only had two playoff gates to collect on in Nash's whole time there. And the no-movement clause hampers things greatly for the Blue Jackets.

Make no mistake: If Columbus unloads him, it won't be for the packages the media and armchair GM's claim they'll be. Depending on his movement list—the trade packages might get competitive, but it won't be earth shattering and team gutting.

He makes too much money for the value he has been giving to his Blue Jackets.

Bank on that.


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