Columbus Blue Jackets' GM Scott Howson may not have as much leverage as he'd like in the Rick Nash derby, what with his making Nash's trade request public in a skin-saving, foot-shooting, P.R. debacle last February, but that hasn't stopped him from aiming high with his asking price.
Two weeks ago, we learned that he requested Jeff Skinner from the Carolina Hurricanes, only to elicit snickers. On Thursday, CSN Bay Area reported that his discussions with the San Jose Sharks hit the wall months ago, because he won't budge from Logan Couture as a starting point, and Doug Wilson unequivocally will not start there:
The Blue Jackets haven't come off of their insistence that Logan Couture be a part of a deal for the scoring winger, which is a non-starter for San Jose.
But here's the question. Should Couture be a non-starter?
After all, this is Rick Nash, regarded as one of the league's premier power forwards. And I'm sure that the prospect of Nash skating with a premier playmaker in Joe Thornton is enough to keep many a Sharks fan sitting down until the excitement passes. Is it possible that the creation of that dynamic duo is worth losing Couture?
No. It isn't.
In his first two seasons, Couture has 63 goals and 121 points. Meanwhile, over that same span, Nash has 62 goals and 125 points. That's practically identical production.
Of course, Nash isn't playing with Thornton, and Couture is, at least for part of the time. Presumably, Nash could do a little more damage on Thornton's wing.
But really, that's the only way he does. If you want Nash to exceed the totals he's presently putting up, you'd best employ a playmaking centre, and if you trade Couture to get him, you've only got one to offer, and that's Thornton.
And even then, it's a pretty big gamble, one that I wouldn't expect Doug Wilson to make after he got burned making it last time. Submitted for the approval of the midnight society: Dany Heatley.
Granted, Heatley and Nash are different players, but they aren't that dissimilar, and a lot of the chatter about a possible Nash-Thornton pairing echoes the chatters about a possible Heatley-Thornton pairing before that happened.
You'll recall that it didn't really work out. Sure, Heatley had 82 points in season one, but he dropped to 64 points in season two, losing his spot on the first line and the first unit powerplay in the meantime before being moved for Martin Havlat.
That was Dany Heatley, who came to the Sharks after breaking 80 points in a down season in Ottawa. Nash has never had an 80-point season. Maybe he does alongside Thornton, but, as Heatley proved, that alone isn't going to win you the Stanley Cup.
A better option might be to avoid this headache and keep Couture, who isn't being paid $7.8M a season, provides the same production Nash provides now, and can play a host of positions and situations Nash can't. He won't eat up your capspace and he doesn't need to be on the first line to succeed.