With their NHL draft weekend trades, the Philadelphia Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes may not need Rick Nash anymore. The New York Rangers do, and Nash is willing to go there, but thus far they've been unable to meet GM Scott Howson's price. The Ottawa Senators do too ... but Rick Nash might not want them.
The Senators may be the most intriguing suitor left for Nash, in that they have assets that could entice the Blue Jackets and, theoretically, have an organization that should appeal to Nash in geography and market size.
But Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch confirmed what had been rumored for weeks: That the Sens aren't on Nash's preferred destinations list. From the Dispatch:
The Dispatch learned today that Ottawa is not on Nash's preferred list. Doesn't mean the two sides aren't talking, and doesn't mean Nash can't be traded there. Just means he'd have to alter his list before he could get traded to the Senators. The Sens are loaded with prospects, including goaltender Robin Lehner.
This brings us back to agent Joe Resnick's vow near the trade deadline: "If a deal is not reached, then the list of acceptable teams will not change at a later date."
Can the Jackets, and in turn the Senators, sell Nash on Ottawa if a deal can be struck?
The Jackets are expected to move Nash after July 1's Free Agent Frenzy, and specifically after Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils signs with the Penguins decides on his future.
Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun spoke with GM Bryan Murray at the draft about Nash, in a roundabout way:
Murray hedged when asked if he's made Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson his best offer.
"They talked to me about young players they like in the organization, and I said when you're ready to talk serious and maybe make a deal, we'll talk," said Murray. "I'm not throwing a whole bunch of names out there and letting them pick what they want to pick, by any means. We'll see when the time comes what happens. They've told me they'll definitely get back to me, to see if there's interest in our part."
The Senators were a surprise playoff team last season: Well-coached and energized by a budding star on the blue line in Erik Karlsson. They have a young core of talent, and a center in Jason Spezza that's signed through 2015 and should appeal to Nash through their Team Canada ties. If Daniel Alfredsson's at the end of his career, transitioning to the Rick Nash Era would seem like an appropriate move for the franchise.
But there's skepticism, dating back to February's trade deadline. Nash may not want to be a Senator. And the Senators have issues that go beyond securing the services of Rick Nash; while his acquisition would raise other questions.
From Allen Panzeri's solid Ottawa Citizen piece setting the scene for Nash and the Senators:
Under contract through the 2017-18 season, Nash carries a cap hit of $7.8 million, which would make him the highest-paid player on the Senators. That'd make Jason Spezza, with a cap hit of $7 million through 2014-15, the second-highest paid player. Would he be OK with that?
Then there would be the price in players going to Columbus. Over the last week, a number of names have been bandied about, including goalies Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop, and forwards Mika Zibanejad and Nick Foligno.
Plus, while having a gunner such as Nash would be nice, the Senators still need help on defence, which Murray has talked about as a priority.
Does it makes sense for the Sens? It comes down to price. If they can get a deal done with assets like Mika Zibanejad and Nick Foligno, great. If they have to gut the roster to bring in Nash, what's the point? Get Nash and become the Blue Jackets?
As for Nash … the options are dwindling. His best hope is that this thing drags out uncomfortably long and Howson drops his price for one of the teams on Nash's list. Otherwise, he may want to reconsider a place like Ottawa. And its delicious beaver tails.