The Sports Daily > The 6th Sens
Nash Bridges – Discussing Hypothetical Rick Nash Trade Scenario

One of our devoted Twitter followers (@Robert_Lennox) posed the question to us yesterday, Rundblad, 2011 Sens first, 2011 Sens second and Michalek for Nash. Nash and Spezza in Ottawa. Value is there would you consider?

The reasoning behind Robert’s suggestion was straightforward: the team needs a top winger to play with Spezz. If Nash were available I’d entertain an asking price. weve seen what we can do with 1 line. Sometimes the market doesn’t wait. If you have the chance to do it you do it when you can. Don’t wait and hope for down the road. There isn’t necessarily a market now, but I wouldn’t say “no because the timing is wrong” I’d say yes gimme Nash and Spezza!

Like Robert, I’m sure many of you have noticed how well Jason Spezza has fared in the tournament – in 7 games played, Jason had 4 goals and 3 assists. Albeit, I think this is a classic case of Rick Nash Sydrome – a phenomenon that makes one long for a particular player or players because a member of your favourite team is having some significant individual success now that he’s surrounded by some legitimate talent. And although it seems unlikely that the Columbus Blue Jackets would ever consider trading the only feather in Doug MacLean’s cap, I’ll entertain this discussion because there’s nothing like some hypothetical rosterbation to pass the time. 

Here are some things to consider:

  • Nash’s career high in points (78) and goals (40) came in the 2008-09 season.
  • According to Capgeek.com, Nash will carry a $7.8 million cap hit through the 2017-18 season thereby making him 34 years old by the time his contract ends.
  • Listening to some folks describe him, he may be the best player to never reach 80-points in the history of the game. (But that’s only because he’s never played alongside Spezza, duh!)

Make no mistake, Rick Nash is a fan-fucking-tasticly good player but trading for Nash at this juncture doesn’t make much sense for the Senators. Despite the whimsical optimism exuded by its owner, the team shouldn’t be gearing itself up for a playoff run in 2012. Although Nash is only 26 years of age and is under team control for the foreseeable future, Robert’s suggested cost — Ottawa’s best defensive prospect, a top six draft pick (hopefully a future top six forward), a second round pick and Michalek — is too steep a price to pay.

Despite the odds of all of the aforementioned involved trade chips panning out being slim and as intriguing as it would be to see the organization rid itself of Milan Michalek (possible trade fodder to move either of this year’s first round picks up?), any aggressive effort to fetch Nash would undo a part of the rebuilding movement that Melnyk has assured us will eventually culminate in Stanley Cup glory.

Rather than see the organization throw all the eggs into the Rick Nash basket, I’d prefer to see the organization continue to build slowly from the net out and hopefully luck themselves into a player who can complement Spezza on the first line in due time.

Under Bryan Murray’s watch, the Senators have come a long way with their farm system – case in point, look at the success that Binghamton’s enjoying right now in the AHL Eastern Conference Finals. But, it is not yet at the point where the organization can afford to be trading a plethora draft picks and prospects for one impact player.

There’s just no wisdom in depleting Ottawa’s youth movement and depth to acquire a player who won’t make this team significantly better on his own. The hole created would have been greater than the one it will fill and the Senators simply haven’t reached a point where they have an embarrassment of riches in their farm to quickly replenish their coffers.

So unless you want to see Corey Locke and Lessard in the lineup every night just so you can see Nash and Spezza play together, fine. That’s your prerogative. But as recent years have demonstrated, the best NHL teams need three (or possibly even four lines) that can perform and contribute at both ends of the ice to have a chance contending for the Stanley Cup.

It would be one thing if the Senators were in the position of say the Washington Capitals or a Los Angeles Kings since there comes a time when you have to parlay a combination of picks and prospects to “go for it” – an idea that seems completely lost upon Dean Lombardi or George McPhee – but unfortunately, Ottawa is not there yet. In a worst case scenario, Nash’s inclusion might put the Senators in Minnesota Wild-like purgatory — too shitty to have any sustained playoff success but too good to acquire a lottery pick.

Thanks to the recent player management trend that puts an impetus on organizations to lock up their core of young players to excessively long extensions – regardless of whether or not they’re the kind of core player that you can build a winner around – fewer quality players are reaching free agency at a young age. In consequence, there’s an added pressure to hold onto one’s draft picks and make these draft picks count. Without (m)any assets in the system who project as top six forwards, between the loss of Michalek, Alfie’s impending retirement and the loss of this year’s top six draft pick, where are these secondary scorers going to miraculously come from?

They have to come from within and while I admittedly overvalue Ottawa’s prospects as much as the average HFboard forum poster (okay, maybe I’m stretching there), even I’m sceptical that Ottawa has the depth and quality in-house talent that can step up and perform adequately. Robert does suggest that Ottawa has had some modest success with a one line team but that came at a time when its three players — Alfie, Spezza, and Heatley — were all in their respective primes… and healthy. Faced with the uncertainty of whether Alfredsson will even be able to play next season or make significant offensive contribution, it doesn’t seem prudent. None of the players or picks mentioned by Robert are Nash-calibre players and there’s no guarantee that they will ever get to that stratum. But Rundblad is the potential top pairing defenceman who should develop into a capable third or fourth guy on a very good team and within a few years, he might be able to form an elite punch with a Jared Cowen, an Erik Karlsson or a Patrick Wiercioch.

Thanks to his cost, controllable service time and position, Rundblad should comprise part of a formidable blueline moving forward. Yes, adding Nash would have been a big statement for the Senators but Eugene Melnyk makes enough of those every few months on Toronto sports radio. While it inevitably would have placated the loss of Dany Heatley and inched the Senators closer to the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the absence of these two things from my life as a Senators isn’t deep-rooted enough for me to wish for the team to ravage its farm system.