Although Detroit had already fanned on a couple of high-profile free agents this year (Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and restricted free agent Shea Weber), not acquiring Nash via trade might have been one of the better outcomes for the Detroit Red Wings this offseason due to a few big reasons.
The price for Nash was exorbitant.
When that price continued to climb this offseason after the Minnesota Wild signed Suter and Parise and Nashville retained the services of Weber by matching the Philadelphia Flyers' offer sheet, Nash became the top bargaining chip on the table.
In short, Artem Anisimov (former second-round pick), Tim Erixon (former first-round pick), Brandon Dubinsky (former second-round pick) and a first-round pick in 2013 were sent to the Blue Jackets in exchange for Nash, a conditional third-round pick and prospect Steven Delisle.
The Red Wings (via Puck Daddy) reportedly offered an arm and a leg (and the kitchen sink for that matter) for Nash, but were turned down as Columbus seemingly didn't care.
Detroit could never realistically be a possibility because they are division rivals with Columbus.
The Would-Be Losses
It is important to note that while Detroit has one of the most talented sets of forwards in the NHL (and a seeming surplus of talent in the forward spots), the Wings would be giving up far more talent by paying "the price" (see above) that Columbus GM Scott Howson wanted in return for his star forward.
If Detroit had been successful in procuring Nash from Columbus, the trade would be massively unbalanced in favor of the Blue Jackets.
With Valtteri Filppula or Johan Franzen combined with another roster player and a first-round pick, the trade would have had "unbalanced" written all over it.
While this is not surprising, it would have been interesting to see who Holland would have sent back if Howson would have listening. The offer would have been similar to that of the New York Rangers (two NHL forwards, an NHL defenseman and a first-round pick).
But as Detroit as already short on defensemen, with just six NHL defensemen on the roster, and Holland would surely not have wanted to part with any of them before first signing (or trading for) a defenseman to replace the one he was sending away.
The chemistry on any team is important to maintain maximum offensive productivity.
Although Nash seems to be a team player, sticking with the Blue Jackets for so long before finally asking for an out, bringing in Nash and taking away one or two top-six forwards would have created a lot of waves internally in the organization.
If you were Ken Holland and Scott Howson had "OK'd" the deal, would you have traded Franzen, Filppula and top prospect/pick for Nash?
Detroit is already going through an overhaul of sorts this offseason, and bringing in Rick Nash and taking out a key piece (or pieces) like Franzen or Filppula would bring about gargantuan changes in the offensive schemes and team chemistry among the remaining players.
These hypothetical ripples would have sent Detroit into a tailspin as they are still trying to re-stock the shelves defensively with only six defensemen signed to NHL contracts.
Detroit does not have a top-line right wing to speak of, so there was hope that Nash could have been that right-handed right wing who would help Detroit's offense start clicking again.
But Detroit doesn't need to go taking a massive risk in signing Nash (who per CapGeek.com also has a no-trade clause and becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2019) when there are other players like Bobby Ryan available (via CapGeek.com) for less money and less back than what Howson wanted for Nash.
Holland has fanned on some big time moves this offseason, but the Nash trade that didn't happen is definitely a plus for the Red Wings organization.
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