This time of year is always interesting for the New York Rangers and their fans.
Because the Rangers are a big-market team (with a big-market media presence) nearly every big name in hockey will be linked to Broadway from now until the trading deadline. It's the nature of the beast. From here, it's the reader's job to distinguish exactly what rumors are plausible, which are completely unrealistic and which rumors are unlikely but not insane.
You can file the "Rick Nash to New York" rumors under the "unlikely but not insane" category. Before I even get into this I just want to reiterate that this is a rumor, nothing more. This post is also not meant to start a rumor. I have no inside information. I'm just commenting on something that's been thrown around (Columbus considering trading Nash) and connecting it with one of the Rangers' needs (offense/power play help).
With that said, join me after the jump for more.
The Rangers can easily be considered Stanley Cup contenders at this point in the season. Fact of the matter is, the Rangers are one of the best teams in the NHL, and are sitting atop the Eastern Conference. They're contenders regardless of what past teams might make you think.
Being contenders means that Glen Sather will most likely pull the trigger on a trade or two at the deadline to help bolster this squad as they waltz into the playoffs (hopefully with a high enough seed to give the team home ice advantage).
That does not, however, release the Rangers of some of their regular season issues, the biggest of which being a stagnant power play and an offense that's good for eight goals one game and none the next. With that being said, I think it's fair to assume that when Sather evaluates what he's looking for come the deadline offense will be a top priority.
Thus, if Columbus actually is looking to move Nash, Sather should at least kick the tires. Nash is still young (he's only 27) and is already a two-time 40-goal scorer, a six-time 30-goal scorer and has scored 27 goals or more in all but one season this year (he only notched 17 his rookie season). In his career, 80 of his 276 goals have come via the man advantage.
Although Nash is having an off year this season (just 17 goals and 35 points in 53 games) those numbers are still top the Blue Jackets' scoring list, and he's putting up those numbers on a team that's having a poor year.
Now, onto the hard part about big trades, what the Rangers would need to give up. Let's start with Nash's cap hit. Nash is slated to make $7.8 million a year until 2018. That's a hefty contract, and one that would require some movements if the Rangers wanted to fit him under the cap (currently the Rangers have just over $1.5 million in cap space).
The salary can, incidentally, be shed in the trade itself, depending on what Columbus would actually want. If Brandon Dubinsky ($4.2 million) and Wojtek Wolski ($3.8 million) were involved, then the Rangers would free up $8 million in space, actually saving the team $200K in cap space.
Before everyone starts yelling "why would the Blue Jackets want Wolski," give me a moment to explain. In Wolski the Blue Jackets are getting a player who might be able to make an offense impact this season, but at the end of the day if Wolski was included in a deal to Columbus it would be a financial move. The Blue Jackets aren't making the playoffs this year, and Wolski is a free agent at the end of the year. It's a no-risk move. If Columbus likes what they see out of Wolski, they can re-sign him. If they don't like what they see, they can cut him lose and make him a free agent. The choice is theirs.
As for Dubinsky, you would have to assume that Columbus would want an NHL-ready player right now along with some picks and prospects. Even though Dubinsky is having an off-season this year, his all-around play and potential might be appealing to a Blue Jackets team that can use some grit and playoff experience.
Again, I'm not saying this deal should happen, I'm just letting you know what would have to happen to help it go through. No other player the Rangers would be willing to trade would help free up the cap space aside from Dubinsky and Wolski, and it still remains to be seen how much else Columbus would want back in return. It might be too much. This might also all be for naught, if the Blue Jackets don't want to trade him.
Again, this is all speculation.
Regardless, thoughts on all this guys?