The New York Rangers' brass has already met in order to assess the team's needs for the upcoming season, and Rick Nash is at the top of their list. It is something the Rangers are confident about, and it appears that they are still the favorites to acquire the All-Star power forward.
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.
The New York Rangers, stocked with young, promising forwards, still appear to be the most likely fit for Nash, and their desire might have been heightened during the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Rangers’ 2.15 goals per game in the playoffs was the second-lowest figure of any club to advance past the first round.
An earlier report by Newsday stated that the Rangers were prepared to part with young players, including Brandon Dubinsky, Michael Del Zotto and other prospects in their system. The Rangers would be wise to add Nash because, as the Dispatch report stated, the Rangers had the second-lowest goals-per-game average for a team that advanced past the first playoff round.
In addition to talent that is developing, the Rangers have tons of young assets that are NHL-ready. It is never wise to stockpile talent, so by giving some—not all—away for Nash, the Rangers would ultimately strengthen themselves for the long term.
With the Rick Nash chatter picking up, it is clear that the Rangers were targeting Nash all along. Zach Parise publicly stated he wouldn't play for the Rangers, but NHL Insider Darren Dreger feels that the Rangers were never as high on Parise as others thought:
NYR have assets to acquire Nash, Suter, Weber, etc. They will add talent. Maybe Parise isn't as high on the Rangers list as some think?
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 13, 2012
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 13, 2012Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The asking price for Nash will be key in all negotiations, but it is going to be lower than what Howson asked for at the deadline. Howson knows that no one will pay what he was asking for at the deadline, and he took himself out of negotiations by asking for a ridiculous return for Nash.
Howson's job could potentially be at risk if John Davidson is hired at an executive-level position, so if Howson could successfully trade Nash and receive a sizable return, it would help his job security.
No one says that Nash will come cheap, but a package involving either Artem Anisimov or Brandon Dubinsky, potentially Michael Del Zotto, a prospect and the Rangers' first-round draft pick should get the job done. Chris Kreider and Ryan McDonagh are definitely off the table.
Glen Sather is often criticized for his free-agent signings, but he is arguably one of the best general managers in the league when it comes to making trades.
He received future All-Star defenseman Ryan McDonagh for the overpaid and overrated Scott Gomez. He also acquired Jaromir Jagr for a package highlighted by Anson Carter. Sather knows how to negotiate and won't be taken for a fool. He held firm at the deadline with Howson, so if the two sides are still negotiating at this point, you know that Sather will remain in the driver's seat with Howson under pressure to deal Nash.
Nash is the hottest player on the trade market. The Rangers are the favorite to acquire him and they have the assets. It is safe to assume that this is a deal that could be done at the NHL draft. While nothing is ever certain, things are looking good for the Rangers.