Rick Nash: 5 Things He Would Bring to the San Jose Sharks

MJ Kasprzak@BayAreaCheezhedSenior Writer IIMay 9, 2012

Rick Nash: 5 Things He Would Bring to the San Jose Sharks

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    The San Jose Sharks are known to be interested in Rick Nash. And the Columbus Blue Jackets are known to be shopping him around, after they let the cat out of the bag that their captain had all but demanded a trade.

    Having spent much of my professional life in sales, I can tell you that when a motivated seller and a motivated buyer join up it usually ends in a sale.

    It is possible that what Columbus wants will be something San Jose is unwilling to part with, which is something being I covered in my report card series, but if the two teams can agree on value, this trade will happen.

    But should the Sharks really want someone who has won so little? Someone who demanded a trade?

    Three Sharks last year had as many goals as Nash, four had more points and five had more assists. His plus-minus rating was lower than anyone in San Jose.

    However, here are the five assets he brings to the table that will make him an even better player for the Sharks.

5. Skating

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    There was a point when the Sharks had speed to burn. But after trading Milan Michalek for Dany Heatley, the scales tipped.

    GM Doug Wilson traded Heatley for Martin Havlat because his team, while possessing above average speed, was no longer fast enough. Even though the Sharks best three playoff runs were with their slowest rosters, Wilson is not willing to lose skating ability in any trade.

    Rick Nash is not going to win any skating competitions during NHL All-Star weekend. But he will be there every mid-season in part because he skates well for a big man.

    If Nash gets behind you in the offensive zone, you are not stopping him. In the time it takes a defender to turn around and skate with him, he can split defenders—all the speed a power forward will ever need.

4. Skill

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    The San Jose Sharks are a skilled team, and they will want to stay that way.

    Rick Nash again fits right in. He has tremendous puck-handling ability and is a better passer than most people think. Sharks fans may remember the pass he got to Jeff Carter in his final appearance against San Jose.

    Sometimes a play is more a fluke than it is indicative of a player's talent. Torrey Mitchell has scored two of the most impressive goals in Sharks history and never had more than 10 goals in a season.

    Marek Malik scored one of the most impressive shootout goals in NHL history and had 33 goals in 691 games for his career.

    If you only look at stats, Nash would seem to be a scorer and nothing more. But he had more assists than giveaways. That is almost unheard of on the Sharks team, with Logan Couture (34-36) being the closest Shark.

    Nash gets the puck to his teammates when it's the right thing to do. The rest of the time, he shot because it was the right thing to do.

3. Supporting Cast

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    Rick Nash has accomplished almost everything as a one-man show. There is no telling how much better he would be with the supporting cast of the San Jose Sharks.

    In doing a hardcore statistical analysis, one must consider what the stats mean, which are priorities and how they affect the game?

    For instance, goals mean more than assists. There are far fewer of them scored, and getting an assist is dependent upon getting a goal. But the reverse is not true.

    Plus-minus is unreliable. Many times the best defensive players are out there in the most high-risk situations, and thus, they "earn" the most minuses, while offensive players get the benefit of their situations.

    I have developed a formula for a player's offensive contribution, called the offensive quotient. Here is the formula for forwards:

    Goals + (Assists x Assist to Giveaway Ratio, expressed as a percentage) + Game-Winning Goals (making them worth twice as much as other goals)

    It only considers the player's raw contribution, and it doesn't take into account supporting cast. It also doesn't state who was the better player, but merely who contributed more to the team's offensive success during the entire season.

    Players unable to get or stay on the ice do contribute less than those playing heavy minutes all season long.

    Despite a lack of support, Nash still finished higher (64.5) than every Shark except Logan Couture. He will feel like the weights have been lifted off him being one of many stars.

2. Size

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    Rick Nash is 6'4", and he weighs 215 pounds. He has made his living in open ice, but as a true power forward, he is an asset near the net.

    As I have stated before, the San Jose Sharks need to be a team that uses its point-shot ability and has big forwards to control the space in front of the net. That is harder to shut down defensively, and it works better in the playoffs.

    Nash can be that player.

    Only three Sharks are taller, and only five are heavier. He would provide an upgrade there, as he is effective around the net screening the goalie, deflecting shots and getting to rebounds.

1. Edge

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    There are two constants for the San Jose Sharks during Doug Wilson's eight-year tenure as general manager.

    First, they have been one of the most skilled teams in the NHL. This is the reason they have averaged more than 100 points a season and have won five division titles.

    And secondly, they have lacked grit, edge and even passion. Even though they have been the biggest team in the NHL during that period, they have been among its lightest hitting teams almost every year.

    This is often seen as the reason they have a mediocre 46-43 (.517) record in the playoffs and have had trouble even being competitive in their last series.

    As already mentioned, Rick Nash is big and skilled, which fits the Sharks' prototype. But he also plays with an edge the team lacks.

    He has clashed with the Sharks on a few occasions, and he used to take more penalties until he accepted that Columbus had too little talent to have its best player off the ice for five minutes. He continues to battle in front of the net, where the Sharks have been outplayed in every elimination series.

    And he can defend.

    Similar to my offensive quotient, I developed a formula for defenders called the defensive quotient. Here is the formula for forwards:

    3 x takeaways (action that turns the puck from theirs to ours) + 2 x blocked shots (something that neutralizes a scoring chance) + hits (something that stops the rush of the most important single player)

    Nash finished with a 39.8, which is higher than all but four Sharks forwards. He is low on blocked shots (21), something he can pick up from teammates.

    But he had more hits (104) than any Shark except Douglas Murray and Ryane Clowe, and he had more takeaways (62) than anyone but Joe Thornton.