Rick Nash and His 5 Most Likely Destinations for 2012-13

James Wrabel, Jr.@TheWrageCorrespondent IIJune 15, 2012

Rick Nash and His 5 Most Likely Destinations for 2012-13

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    As we move further into summer, not only will the days heat up but so will all the hot stove rumors of trades, free agent signings and potential blockbuster deals. With the 2012 NHL Draft next Friday, June 22, teams will begin to poke around, find out who's available for what price and hold organizational meetings to come up with a solid plan of attack for the draft and offseason.

    One name sure to be used abundantly in discussions on how to improve a respective hockey team will include Rick Nash.

    The 27-year-old captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who was nearly dealt at the trade deadline this past season, will almost certainly start the 2012-13 somewhere else.

    Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch covers the team and has indicated in a recent article teams have begun to not only kick the tires, but have significant discussions about acquiring the sniper.

    Here's an excerpt:

    NHL sources have told The Dispatch that as many as seven teams have had “significant” trade conversations with Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson about Nash during the past 10 days and that a handful of other clubs — three or four, maybe more — have “kicked the tires” to see what a deal might cost them.

    Most of the teams known to be expressing interest are the ones that expressed interest at the February trade deadline.

    With a free agent pool thin after Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Alex Semin, teams will look to trades to upgrade their rosters.

    Lets look at the five most likely destinations for Rick Nash next season.

Carolina Hurricanes

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    Imagine Rick Nash flanking Jeff Skinner, or captain Eric Staal on a top scoring line. It's something Canes fans would sure love to see in 2012-13, as their young team looks to improve. Finding a way to land Rick Nash would speed up their rebuild exponentially.

    Carolina GM Jim Rutherford indicated recently he not only expects trades to occur leading up to the draft, but so will he and his staff.

    Via Chip Alexander:

    Rutherford said he expects NHL trades next week. "Whether we'll get in on those early trades or not, we're trying to."

    — Chip Alexander (@ice_chip) June 14, 2012

    The good news for the Hurricanes is they have roughly $24 million in cap space (via capgeek.com) and 19 players under contract, meaning the team can absorb Nash's $7.8 cap hit for next season and still re-sign pieces or add other complimentary players.

    The bad news is Carolina doesn't seem to have the players Columbus would want back. The Hurricanes two biggest up-and-coming players, Justin Faulk and Ryan Murphy, are not going anywhere and their forward pool isn't full of NHL-ready prospects—something Columbus covets in return for trading Nash.

Toronto Maple Leafs

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    When you mention potential blockbuster trades, you can never rule out Brian Burke throwing his hat into the ring. The Toronto Maple Leafs' GM is always looking for a way to improve his club, either through a minor-league deal or a major trade.

    While it would seem more beneficial for Burke to solidify his goaltending position and find a true, No. 1 center to play with resident goal scorer Phil Kessel, pulling off a trade for Nash would give Toronto a deadly one-two punch on offense.

    Maybe this is the deal Burke finally trades prospect Nazem Kadri—the seventh overall pick by Burke during the 2009 draft. Kadri has yet to catch on in Toronto and Columbus may see his offensive creativity and versatility as something their team could use in the post-Nash era.

    The problem for Toronto is their cap status, as the team has just 17 contacts tied up in over $56 million in payroll with six key free agents who need deals. (via capgeek.com)

    If Burke really wants Nash, he'll have to get ultra creative to strike a deal. 

Philadelphia Flyers

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    You can never count out Flyers GM Paul Holmgren from doing whatever is necessary to improve his club.

    Go back to last summer, when seemingly out of nowhere, Holmgren jettisoned Mike Richards and Jeff Carter—supposed mainstays–in separate deals and signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a lucrative, nine-year deal.

    In the short term, the deals looked to be the wrong ones as both Carter and Richards won a Stanley Cup in L.A. while the Flyers were eliminated in the second round by the Devils, partially due to Bryzgalov's mediocre play in net.

    However, in the long term, Holmgren secured Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and the eighth overall pick last year which the team used on Sean Couturier. Short-term pain for long-term success was the plan of attack.

    But could Holmgren have another ace up his sleeve in an attempt to bring Rick Nash to Philadelphia? It could lie with young, budding player James van Riemsdyk, who was first thought to need surgery to repair an injury thus leaving him out of any potential trades.

    Not so fast, says Darren Dreger:

    No hip surgery necessary for James Van Riemsdyk. Expected to be fully recovered in time for training camp.

    — Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 15, 2012

    With uncertainty surrounding Jaromir Jagr and if he'll re-sign with the team, Holmgren could center a deal around JVR and backup goalie Sergei Bobrovski to send to Columbus for Nash.

    Philadelphia does have roughly $9 million in cap space (via capgeek.com) tied up in 20 players and can take on Nash's contract, but would have to get creative with any additional improvements.

New York Rangers

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    One of the teams that made a strong push for Nash at the deadline, the New York Rangers will once again be in the hunt to secure more offense, especially upon hearing the news Marian Gaborik will be out five to six months following shoulder surgery.

    GM Glen Sather is nearly "zen" like in his abilities to make trades. Need we remind Canadians fans about the Scott Gomez for Ryan McDonagh deal from 2009?

    But can Sather swindle Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson into giving up his team's best player for less than what he wants in return? Very doubtful, considering Nash isn't just a great offensive player, he's the face of their franchise.

    If forwards to replace Nash's productivity are what Columbus is after, New York has intriguing options, but would be unlikely to deal them, starting with Chris Kreider, who made his debut during the playoffs and showed why he was highly touted, scoring five goals in 18 games. Brandon Dubinsky, or prospect Christian Thomas may be targets, as well.

    Derek Stepan could be one of those intriguing options and, coming off a disappointing playoff performance, may be a player management feels isn't untouchable anymore. Despite Sather's unwillingness to trade younger players, to land Nash he may have to.

    New York has $21 million in cap space (via capgeek.com), but only 15 players under contract and several free agents to contend with, including getting 21-year-old defenseman Michael Del Zotto under contract. 

    You can never rule out Broadway.

San Jose Sharks

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    The team most likely to trade for Rick Nash is also the team in the biggest need of a shakeup to its core.

    San Jose is ranked high as a team to win a Stanley Cup every preseason. They always come through with impressive regular seasons only to fall flat on their collective faces in the playoffs. Captain Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle have been mainstays in San Jose during their playoff troubles and the time may finally be here to blow it up. 

    The Sharks underwent a major face lift last offseason, trading away Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley while bringing back Martin Havlat and Brent Burns.

    Could another radical change come this offseason?

    San Jose's cap situation isn't very trade friendly, having $14.7 million in cap space (via capgeek.com) to manage with only 14 contracts and several free agents to negotiate with, including the recently acquired rights to defenseman Brad Stuart. Getting creative to bring in Nash's mega contract would be a gross understatement.

    Perhaps San Jose tries to unload one of their bigger contracts for cap relief (Marleau's $6.9 million cap hit though 2013-14 could be the top contender) and targets Rick Nash as their replacement. It all depends on how GM Doug Wilson views his team, and whether or not it needs Nash.

    Playing alongside Jumbo Joe might be an attractive enough prospect.