One Reason to Love International Hockey

Rick Nash.

Well, for me at least.  I liked watching Ryan Smyth play for a team I could cheer for each year.  Seriously, the Oilers sit a close second to the Rangers in terms of teams I despise (even if I do like watching the Oilers play their fast, exciting, and mistake-prone hock-DAMN IT!) and just a touch above the Flyers.  The Flyers took over third place when they shed Carcillo, with the added bonus of Chicago getting saddled with him.

That's the tricky part of liking players not on "your" team: when can you cheer for them?  In this case, there just may be a solution...

Yeah, it's a dream to think Nash will get moved by the Blue Jackets.  He really likes the town; has shown nothing but respect to the fans; and specified a no trade clause in his long term contract, talking about being there when the team becomes respectable and eventually a force to be reckoned with.  The team would have to be insane to move him out, as he's all of 27 years old and one of their few consistent offensive threats, year in and year out.

There have been times when he's been criticized for his lack of defensive play, but that's invariably leavened with the comment "tries to do too much with the puck".  This apparently comes from people unaware that the only other player to even reach 30 goals for the Blue Jackets was Geoff Sanderson, and that was nine years ago.

So, yeah: he's under just a teensy-weensy bit of pressure to score.  Sorry if he's not clearing the front of the net, too.

In any case, with Columbus off to such a miserable start, speculation has returned that this could be a good time to trade their biggest asset (sound familiar, Calgary?) while he's still at the top of his game, and rebuild with what returns.  Yeah, they'll need him to agree; but if there's any town he wants to go to, that town will try getting him.  He's a gigantic 40-goal scorer who shies away from nothing, fires off 3-4 shots per game, and has a locked-in (read: budget-predictable) contract until he's 33 years old.

So let's pretend he's available to the Canucks, and I'll clean the drool off my keyboard.  Columbus has made a couple small moves, picking up Nikita Nikitin and Mark Letestu, and are apparently trying to get some established NHL presence behind the bench (though to help Scott Arniel, not to replace him), so they are clearly looking for a boost from somewhere.  And it is a bit telling when Letestu gets slotted in as the Jackets' #2 right winger...

What's tougher is managing a trade of this magnitude while keeping the budgets of the two teams more or less equal, as both of them are pushed tight to the cap this year: Columbus is sitting with less than a million dollars room, and Vancouver will need all $130,000 of the projected injury cap relief to squeeze under the ceiling.  So basically, if it's $7.8 million to Vancouver, it'll have to be between that and $8.5 million going the back.

The Canucks may also have to send the Florida Panthers some candy or flowers or something by way of apologizing for trading with someone else.  Not quite sure what that relationship is, but it's getting kind of creepy...

The question becomes: how to get there?  Or, more to the point, how to get him here?

If Columbus is truly rebuilding, they will want youth and/or draft picks to go with the folks that would create the new core of the team (Carter, Wisniewski, Umberger, Someone Else?), while Vancouver is clearly going for the Cup right now - or at least over the next few years.  But Vancouver's draft picks aren't going to be particularly high for the next few years, either, so their value might not be as high as some other teams'.  Add to that the no-movement clauses in several of the Canucks players' contracts, and there isn't much room to maneuver!

The salary cap isn't the only thing to keep in mind, of course: fans of both teams will have to be happy with the move (as much as possible, of course) and both teams will be looking to fill needs/wants.  Okay, Vancouver doesn't actually need Rick Nash, but boy it would be fun to have him!

To Vancouver

Rick Nash

Curtis Sanford

To Columbus

Mason Raymond

Jannik Hansen

Keith Ballard

Cory Schneider

The prize would be Schneider, of course; but Columbus would also be getting two young, fast forwards who can play either wing, one of whom is a 25 goal man and the other is a relentless forechecker with modest finish and a defenceman who is a fabulously heavy hitter with a hard shot who can carry the puck.  Raymond and Schneider are both RFAs next year, while Hansen and Ballard are both under contract for three and four years respectively.

Vancouver would be getting, well, Nash; plus a solid back-up who can spell Luongo (and has done so before) and is by all accounts great in the room and comfortable with being #2.  Yeah, he's injured right now, but so's Raymond, and he won't be back for a month yet.

Think you can do better?  Give it a shot!

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