Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Five Best Offers for Rick Nash: Washington Capitals

Washington is suffering a miserable season. Expectations of a championship season at the beginning of the season seemed reasonable, but the Cap’s currently are not even a playoff team. Injuries have played a hand of course, but the team is simply not playing well. A coaching change was made in an attempt to shake the team, and its star player Alex Ovechkin out of the slump to no avail. Is a Blockbuster deal the answer?

One main hurdle to clear in a deal for Rick Nash is the salary cap. Washington is right up against the cap with less than half a million in space left. But with over $15 million in contracts expiring this summer Washington can afford to fit Nash in long term. One of the contracts expiring is Alex Semin who earns $6.7 million. One more roster player such as defender Tom Poti or John Erskine included in the deal would allow the cap to fit this season. Even if Columbus does not want Semin, they would only need to carry his contract for about 20 games. Would Columbus consider Semin?
Evgeny Kuznetsov had three assists in Russia's Gold Medal World Junior win

Not as the principal component of the deal, no. Columbus would covet Washington’s prospects however, players such as Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitri Orlov, and Braden Holtby. Washington also owns its own first round pick, and Colorado’s first round pick in the upcoming draft.

Washington has several Russian born players that are part of the core of the team. If General Manager George McPhee believes that is part of the problem, not the solution he may be quite willing to move out Semin, Kuznetsov, and Orlov.

Evgeny Kuznetsov is a highly ranked prospect. The Hockey News ranked him third overall in the last issue of Future Watch. No question Columbus GM Scott Howson would have interest in Kuznetsov. Assuming Columbus receives the first overall pick in the upcoming draft, expectations are they will select Nail Yakupov first overall. Yakupov is the consensus top ranked player, he is a winger compared to Alex Mogilny. Yakupov and Kuznetsov are both Russian and have played together internationally, most recently winning Silver together at the 2012 World Junior Championship. Kuznetsov and Orlov have also played together internationally winning Gold together in the 2011 World Juniors.

If Howson is able to add both Kuznetsov, and Yakupov they would assuredly become the corner stones of the franchise. Having Russian born veterans would then become invaluable to the development of these two stars. Columbus already has Fedor Tyutin and Nikita Nikitin on the roster and may even resign Semin in the off season should both sides see eye-to-eye. With Ryan Johansen, Boone Jenner, Tomas Kubalik, Maksim Mayorov, and either Jeff Carter or what ever return they fetch in trade for Carter, the future begins to look very bright in Columbus.

Washington would be sacrificing a lot of youth, but with young players on the roster such as John Carlson and Karl Alzner anchoring the blue line for years to come, and forwards Marcus Johansson and Cody Eakin insulating Nicklas Backstrom down the middle the Caps are deep. Having Alex Ovechkin on the left and Rick Nash on the right between Backstrom with Mike Green on the point would be lethal!

It would take a major offer to acquire Rick Nash. Washington may be very eager to do just that to acquire Nash. Nash is a leader, and may not have NHL playoff experience but he has excelled in international play with Canada winning Gold at the Olympics and World Championships. So what would the deal look like?

Perhaps something along these lines; Alex Semin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitri Orlov, John Erskine, and a first round pick for Rick Nash, Aaron Johnson and a conditional draft pick (depending if Alex Semin resigns in Columbus)
Rick Nash had his number 61 honored in London

Rick Nash played for Dale Hunter in London of the Ontario Hockey League so there is some mutual familiarity there that may go a long way in getting Nash to approve the deal. Considering Washington is a contender, and Nash has indicated he wants to be in the East, and he has played for Hunter in the past it is reasonable to assume he would be happy to go to the Caps.

Is the deal enough for Columbus? Would Washington give up that much youth? Is there a better offer out there? San Jose can make a strong offer as well. Many other teams will also make solid offers. Up next I will look at what the St. Louis Blues could put together for Nash.

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