Rick Nash admitted that this has been his most difficult pro season and would be willing to waive his NTC if approached by GM Scott Howson. Make no mistake, this is not a trade request, but Nash certainly sounds defeated. Entering his ninth season with Columbus and with the team’s future looking no brighter, you have to start wondering when Howson, who has continually reiterated that he has no interest in trading his captain, will re-evaluate his position.
I want to see Rick Nash retire a Blue Jacket, but when it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.
Nash is not a franchise player – at best he’s a power forward who can pot 35 goals a season, and he needs a very strong supporting cast, more than just Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski, to win games. He’s certainly paid like a franchise player though, and that’s a problem.
Nash is owed $7.5M this year and the number creeps up every year until 2018, at which point he’ll be paid $8.2M a season. Not many teams can afford that, especially ones that already have big money tied up with key players. At 70 points a season (max) and just one major trophy on his resume (the Rocket Richard seven years ago with 41 goals), that’s a hefty price tag.
Putting the Blue Jackets’ woes entirely on Nash’s shoulders is unfair, since the organization has done a terrible job of drafting and developing. Every year, the team enters the summer with the same agenda: find a centre for Rick Nash. With the Flyers cleaning house Howson jumped in and nabbed Carter, but that venture has yielded poor results thus far.
The Jackets are in line for yet another top five pick in the 2012 draft, the fifth in the team’s first twelve years of existence. The team has only held a draft position outside the top 15 just once (2009). There’s just no excuse to suck that bad for that long.
The plan for any team is to trade Nash for a boatload of picks and prospects and start fresh, christening Ryan Johansen as the team’s next franchise player. But given that shoddy drafting record, should Howson have any confidence in his scouting staff that is largely the same from the club’s inception?
But it’s quite apparent that no matter what the Jackets do, they can’t find a way to win. When no solutions are apparent and the supporting pieces never seem to mesh with the team’s best player, then it might be time to find a new best player. If Rick Nash is unhappy, troubled, or even confused, it affects the dressing room. Injuries have hurt the Jackets this year, but if the franchise player can’t 100% buy into Howson or Arniel’s plans, then why keep him around? This may be one of those rare times in which the player and the team acknowledge that the relationship is not working and part ways amicably.
I think Rick Nash should be traded. I think he deserves better and the Jackets have to realize that he’s not the player that can save this franchise. Time to move on.
(Full apologies to Jeff Carter, whose situation in Columbus will go from bad to worse if Nash leaves.)