Rick Nash Not the Answer for Bruins, As Immediate and Long-Term Costs of Acquiring Columbus Star Too High


February 20, 2012

Rick Nash Not the Answer for Bruins, As Immediate and Long-Term Costs of Acquiring Columbus Star Too HighThe Bruins need help — particularly offensive help after being shut out four times in their last nine games.

Rick Nash is arguably the most prolific scorer available before next Monday's NHL trade deadline, and last week The Columbus Dispatch reported Boston was one of the handful of teams Nash would waive his no-trade clause for.

Seems like a perfect match, doesn't it? It's not. In fact, a trade for Nash is just about the last thing the Bruins should be considering right now, regardless of how much a segment of the fan base may be clamoring for them to make such a splashy move.

Nash, with six 30-goal campaigns on his resume, is certainly enticing for a club struggling to consistently put the puck in the net with two of its top forwards sidelined with injuries, but the cost is simply too prohibitive. Both the immediate price of what Columbus would demand in return and the long-term effects of Nash's onerous cap hit would actually push the Bruins further away from hoisting the Cup again in the coming years.

Let's start with what it would take to acquire Nash. According to Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun on Saturday's Hot Stove segment during CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, the Blue Jackets are seeking up to four pieces in exchange for their captain, asking for a current roster player capable of making an immediate impact, two top prospects and a first-round draft pick.

The Bruins should be willing to part with the draft pick in a deal to bolster their team, as it wouldn't affect the current roster's chemistry and, frankly, it should be of limited value if Boston selects as late in the opening round as they hope after another long playoff run. But that also reduces the value of that piece of the puzzle for teams the Bruins may try to deal with.

In the case of the Blue Jackets, general manager Scott Howson is sure to be looking for a package including the likes of Tuukka Rask and Dougie Hamilton in any deal involving Nash. That's simply too much to give up, and according to Elliotte Friedman on that same Hot Stove segment, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli isn't willing to part with Rask or Hamilton at this point.

That's the way it needs to be for Boston, as tempting as it may be to add a player like Nash.

For the moment, the Bruins could survive without Rask and Hamilton. Tim Thomas is likely to carry the load for another postseason anyway, and Hamilton won't be making an impact at the NHL level until next year at the earliest. The Bruins might be a better team today if they made such a deal to add Nash to the offense, though even that is debatable.

But Thomas is 37 with just one year left on his contract after this season. Rask remains the future in goal, and that future is not far off. Nor is the wait for Hamilton's arrival in the NHL likely to be long, and the Bruins don't have another defensive prospect in their system with anywhere near the potential that Hamilton possesses.

They don't have a lot of offense in their current lineup either with Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley out with injuries, but Nash won't necessarily solve that. Nash, after all, is tied for 73rd in the league in scoring with just 40 points in 59 games, and is tied for 46th in goals with 19. That gives him an identical 19-21-40 line to Brad Marchand and puts him behind Patrice Bergeron (17-31-48), Tyler Seguin (20-26-46) and Milan Lucic (20-22-42), and Lucic makes much better use of his size as a physical presence than the 6-foot-4, 216-pound Nash.

Heck, even Blake Wheeler has been more productive this season with 46 points.

Granted, Nash has played on a terrible team without a ton of talent around him in Columbus. But there's still 28 players on teams currently outside the playoff mix that have more points than him, and 16 from non-playoff teams with more goals.

Nash could very well flourish with better players around him in Boston, but how many of those players would the Bruins be able to keep? In addition to whatever they would have to give up to acquire him, the Bruins would also have to part with other key pieces to fit Nash's $7.8-million hit under their cap through 2017-18. That's nearly a million higher than Zdeno Chara's cap hit, and would make negotiations on new deals for Lucic, Seguin, Marchand and Horton next summer rather tricky.

There's no question that the Bruins need to do something before the trade deadline. They've lost three of their last four games and are 4-7-0 over their last 11 with just three regulation wins in their last 17 games. But they don't need to make a panic move and blow up a championship-proven roster in pursuit of the biggest name on the market.

Leave that kind of roster mismanagement to the Rangers. They just might be in danger of slipping back to their old ways with their rumored interest in Nash at the expense of a tightly-knit, deep and balanced roster that has soared to the top of the East. Some Rangers fans seemed to realize that when they chanted "We don't want you!" at Nash after he scored late Sunday in Columbus' 3-2 overtime loss in New York.

Risking that chemistry to add another big star to the Big Apple could be great news for the Bruins' hopes of repeating. Tearing up their own roster and mortgaging the future for Nash wouldn't likely work out as well for Boston.

Chiarelli has excelled in adding quality value in more modest deals at the deadline, acquiring the likes of Peverley, Chris Kelly, Dennis Seidenberg and Mark Recchi in recent years. That should be his goal again this season, no matter how enticing that shiny new item just placed on the sale rack may seem.

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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