When Was the Last Time We Talked About the Blue Jackets?

'Why doesn't Scott call me back!?'

Well, every hockey-lovin’ butt in the universe is scuttling lately with the trade deadline approaching. We hockey doggz (and our pal T-Bone) spoke about this subject a bit in our last podcast, particularly about how slow the upcoming deadline day was shaping up to be. Then. BAM! Dominic Moore gets traded for the 14th time in three-and-a-half years.

Excitement!

Really, though, most of the big deals keeping GMs close to their Dreamphones involve the Columbus Blue Jackets franchise. And who wouldn’t want a player or two from that bunch? Let’s take a look at just what dudes the Mistake Near the Lake might be sending off to your favorite team!

Is 'The Ruler' on his way out of Ohio?

Of course, most of the rumors floating out there (i.e. ‘the internet’- where practically everything is floating these days) concern one ‘Slick’ Rick Nash. Even after the Columbus BJs started off the season about as badly as one could’ve predicted, their GM Scott Howson assured fans that Nash was still an ‘untouchable’, meaning that the high-scoring winger was on the lowest-rung of the social structure in South Asia and, as such, no other NHL team would want anything to do with him. Well, weirdly enough, the Jackets are still the worst team in the league by an Ohio Mile (2.67 standard, US miles), and they are suddenly shopping Nash around. You heard it here first! Pretty much every team within sniffing distance of a Stanley Cup has been linked to the talented forward and even as the deadline nears, nobody is quite sure of what’ll become of the second-greatest #61 in NHL history (… what, you never heard of the great Maxim Afinigenov?!)

Like a vicious rumor straight out of the Mean Girls playbook, Nash was purportedly headed to the New York Rangers in exchange for heart ‘n’ soul-type Brandon Dubinsky and some other dudes. While it may sound like an obvi choice for cigar-chompin’ Rangers honcho Glen Sather, the actual package that Columbus would want is probably far steeper than the one described in the message board post that was bitten by a radioactive spider and became factual. Fans in New York have suggested that they don’t want their team tinkered with, especially if it means losing a locker-room presence, a blue-chip defenseman, a highly-touted prospect, a first-round pick, and a whole slew of various hyphenated things/people. The Rangers seem close enough to a Cup that this kind of trade probably just won’t (and shouldn’t) happen. While they could use some secondary scoring (hey, who couldn’t?), it seems more likely that they’ll just hope that guys like Dubinsky can step it up come playoff-time (which shouldn’t be hard given his six goals and 25 points in 54 games so far).

Like I said, a lot of teams would like to have Rick Nash play for them. The Flyers? Sure. But why? Last time I checked, Rick Nash doesn’t play goalie (although that doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t be an upgrade over Steve Mason between the pipes (ZING)). Same can be said for the Bruins and Canucks- last year’s sacred chalice finalists, who both score goals with ease when on their respective games. The Red Wings, they don’t get involved in dumb crap like this, so count them out. The other Central Division teams might like Nash on their team, but do they want to give up players, prospects, and picks to a division rival (even if it’s basically an AHL team that happens to play in their division…).

And that about does it for contenders that want Ricky’s services this spring.

Dustin Penner's pre-game snack

There are some borderline teams out there that could stand a shake-up and/or a 40-goal, power-forward added to their roster. The LA Kings make sense on a couple levels. One need only glance at the lack of biscuits in their baskets to see how badly they could use a player of Rick Nash’s caliber. With a big, burly goal-scorin’ fella like that, the Kings might actually have, I dunno, like, ten more wins. They’ve lost enough 1-0 or 2-1 games to suggest that they really are one piece away from being a contendah. Why, just look at how everybody leaguewide is shitting their pants over the St. Louis Blues, who seem to win most every night by a paper-thin margin. But, as we saw with the Mike Richards trade this summer, trading for big-name players does not always promise instant success. LA was expected to do something this year, sure, but this is a team with a future. Two stud goaltenders, rockstar d-men, and, for now, at least, two lines of talent, forward-wise. Even though this team is in a definite funk, I don’t see bringing in another outside star with a hefty price tag and long contract as a solution to the problems in La-La-Wood….

The weirdest thing about all of this, though, is that so many of the squads supposedly interested in Nash are even contenders this season. This guy is no rental for a run a the Cup. He’s got years left on his deal and gets paid a substantial chunk of change. Kind of like James “Polish Joke” Wisniewski. Or Jeff “Tha” Carter. Hey, wait a second! That’s the hot, new core of the team! Other than the fact that this Howson guy is clearly ripe for fleecing like a yokel walking past a Three-Card-Monte game, I don’t see why competitive teams are trying to get these guys- dudes who were overpaid to play in Columbus and don’t want to play there anymore cuz (big goddamn surprise) the team sucks. I’m gonna leave “Polish Joke” out of this because at his price, term, and, uh, demeanor, he’s an untouchable, for sure. As valuable as the services of Rick Nash are, there’s no ignoring that he’s the fifth-highest-paid fella in the NHL. Is he a top-five player? Even his parents would just trail off if asked that one, point-blank. And after being traded from Philly after some inconsistent regular seasons and so-so playoff performances, “Tha” Carter has focused his game into becoming among the league’s most consistent malcontents. I’m not sure what club would want to have this guy around for the next decade, even if he comes at a reasonable price for what might be a 40-50-goal kind of man.

'Which way's the Greyhound station?'

No, if any of these guys are going to make it out of Columbus alive, they should probably seriously consider expanding that list of teams that they’re willing to be traded to. The teams that could most use a shake-up and a big deal are the teams most similar to Columbus- other squads with ill-advised contracts, bad attitudes, and no clear direction moving forward. Buffalo, Montreal, and Calgary are three organizations that, at best, are merely treading water. Maybe Calgary needs someone like Nash to become the new Iginla. Montreal could certainly use a player that’s allowed to ride a roller coaster.

Analogous

And Buffalo… well, the Sabres are like a man who is rapidly going bald. Shave it off, style it, do something. Whatever they’ve got going now, it just ain’t workin’. It ain’t cool, guys.

There are probably other guys that play for Columbus (or maybe the reason they lose so many games is that they have three players, I don’t know), but, like the big boys mentioned prior, they are probably carrying with them a dumb contract. How else does anyone end up in Columbus? I mean, other than Ohio State? Antoine Vermette makes a cool $3.75 million every year, Marc Methot is getting $3 million each season through ’15 as part of the Witness Protection Agency (cuz who’s gonna find him there?), and ice cream’s on RJ Ummmmmmmmm…burger? and his $4.5 million. Oh, and they’re all there until at least 2015. So unless your name is Samuel Pahlsson or Fedor Tyutin or Radek Martinek, don’t count on being asked to join another, more successful club for a little while longer.

All in all, it is probably going to be a pretty quiet trading day, again, throughout the NHL. Although seeing your favorite gearing up for the playoffs with some roster tinkering can be pretty exciting, just think of all the Dustin Penners and Alexei Ponakorovskis out there. More often than not, the team that got itself into guaranteed playoff contention by mid-Black History Month will be good enough once the playoffs roll around, even without Rick Nash.

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