Columbus Blue Jackets' Promise Stunted by Getting Ripped off in Rick Nash Trade
Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson waited many months to trade Rick Nash, and on Monday, he failed to give his team a brighter future by accepting a horrible deal for his franchise's only elite player.
Howson's return for Nash was laughable, embarrassing and confirms that he is certainly the worst general manager in the NHL.
Here are the complete details of the trade, according to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Post Dispatch.
As Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun points out, Howson could have done better at the trade deadline in February.
The Jackets needed to a hit a home run with this deal. This is not a home run. They had better offers at the trade deadline. #NHL— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) July 23, 2012
Let's examine why this deal is a disaster for the Blue Jackets and will not make them significantly better going forward.
Biggest needs not addressed
John Grieshop/Getty Images
There are several positions that the Blue Jackets needed to upgrade by trading Nash, and none of them were addressed in this trade.
Columbus needed a young NHL forward that could be under contract for several years and develop into a star player.
Howson talked earlier this month about acquiring forwards. Per Gino Reda of TSN:
"If we do complete a trade, we're trading out a 30 to 40 goal scorer. Defense is probably the strongest part of our team if we look at it today. So we're looking to get some NHL forwards back first and foremost."
After hearing this from Howson not long ago, it's very puzzling that he would accept the kind of deal he made with New York on Monday.
Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan were two players from the Rangers that would have been perfect forwards for Howson to acquire and build his offense around. Stepan could have been the top line center the Blue Jackets badly need, and Kreider could have replaced Nash's goal scoring and physical presence in the lineup.
Should Howson be fired prior to the 2012-13 season?
Instead of acquiring one good young forward, Howson trades for an overpaid center in Brandon Dubinsky, and a second or third line center in Artem Anisimov. Dubinsky has scored more than 50 points just once in his career, and is not a true top-six forward.
Anisimov could certainly see his offensive production increase next year with more playing time on the Blue Jackets than he would have received from the Rangers, but he's not going to make a major impact on the outcome of games.
The best player in the deal will likely be Tim Erixon, who has a bright NHL future ahead of him, but the blue line is the strength of the Blue Jackets' NHL roster. Howson should not have made a deal in which a defenseman was the best player coming to Columbus. Having Ryan Murray, Jack Johnson, and James Wisniewski on the blue line is one thing for fans to be excited about.
Howson didn't address the biggest weaknesses on his team, which makes this trade a total failure for Columbus.
Draft picks nothing to be excited about
The Blue Jackets now have three first rounds picks in the 2013 NHL Draft. The Rangers' pick from the Nash deal, the Los Angeles Kings' pick from the Jeff Carter deal, and their own.
Two of those picks (Kings and Rangers selections) will probably be low first round picks likely in the area of selections 25 through 30, so these draft choices are nothing to be too excited about.
Why trade Nash now?
Will the Blue Jackets finish with the worst record next year?
Howson didn't have to trade Nash this summer. He does have a no-trade clause in his contract, but he still has six years left on his current deal.
If this package was the best Howson could get, then he should have waited to trade Nash at next year's deadline, when teams might have been more desperate for a player of Nash's caliber.
What if some of the teams reportedly on Nash's approved trade list lost a key player to injury and needed to make a major move? The Boston Bruins were on Nash's list, and if Nathan Horton struggles with concussion issues again this year, they could end up being a team looking to make a top-six forward upgrade.
Even if Nash told Howson that the Rangers were the only team he wanted to go to, there still could have been a chance that the return package would have been a bit better during the season, especially if the Blueshirts were struggling or dealing with injuries to forwards like Marian Gaborik.
Future is not bright
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Howson had to make a great trade for the Blue Jackets because so much of the franchise's future was riding on this deal.
After seeing the value Columbus ultimately received for Nash, there's no reason to believe that the Blue Jackets will come anywhere close to the playoffs for many years. If I was a fan of the Blue Jackets, or even a season ticket holder, I would boycott every one of the team's games for the 2012-13 season.
These kinds of trades are not ones that help a struggling franchise get better down the road. Howson failed tremendously, and should not be the general manager of the Blue Jackets next season if ownership has any desire to be a winning team.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL lead-blogger for Bleacher Report and was the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Boston.
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