Yesterday’s NHL Trade Deadline was a snore. I thought Twitter might melt from all the ennui and complaints, or Alyonka Larianov’s increasingly desperate attempts to hold our interest. Here’s how things shook out [link].
John Scott was “shocked” to be traded to the Rangers, and was in the middle of doing laundry when the call came. Bonus points for Foxy Fridays Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, who led the Avalanche love-fest for players both coming and going by Tweeting their teammates hello and goodbye simultaneously. Brian Rolston goes back to Boston, where he played 4+ seasons. The winners are anyone leaving the Islanders or Jets, and anyone going to the Canucks. The abstainer was The Washington Capitals. The loser? Rick Nash. Let’s discuss.
The Washington Capitals made zero trades, surprising a lot of people. This seems to say that GMGM either 1) thinks the team is fine the way it is or 2) has given up on this season. In my opinion, it’s more likely that no one was buying at his prices. The Caps chemistry is flawed and inconsistent, but it doesn’t need to be burned to the ground. GMGM showed continued/expensive faith in stars and fragile pandas (Sasha Fierce, Mike Green).
Misplaced faith? Ask me in six weeks when the Caps don’t make the playoffs. But what they had to sell (Knuble, Hamrlik) really only matches the Rolston/Mottau deal, and that was for prospects. The Caps need players who can deliver immediately. To get those guys, GMGM would have had to give up some of the few things that are actually working for the Caps. I don’t want Laich, Chimera, Perreault or anyone else moving when they seem to be the only hopes left for March and April.
Then there’s poor Rick Nash. Chuck and I are biased because we love his smiley lumberjack ways. Also because he’s incredibly talented and seems like a genuinely nice guy. But he’s no fool. All Nash has to show for 9 seasons with the Blue Jackets is one trip to the playoffs, swept by the Red Wings. The only place this captain is going is down with his ship – so he finally wanted off.
Columbus GM Scott Howson revealed yesterday that Nash asked to be traded [link]. This refuted talk the Jackets were shopping him of their own accord, and came as the clock ticked down on the biggest fish in the trade pond still trying to bite a hook. But no team would put out enough bait. Howson defended his astronomical asking price by pointing out he is neither required nor compelled to trade Nash just because he asked nicely.
Now, I’m mad. Howson threw Nash under the bus. “Think you’re miserable now? See how it feels when I turn the fans against you!” (Obviously not a real Howson quote.) If Rick can’t get out of Columbus this summer, my heart will break. He wanted to anchor that team and be the franchise guy that built a winning club. Columbus has not delivered. The Jackets are talking about “rebuilding” – rebuilding what?! You have one Nash-shaped support beam and no house! You never did.
In truth, the Jackets can’t afford to sell Nash unless they immediately start winning in return. Rick’s price tag is something between a ransom and a bounty. He’s all they have right now, after supposed big moves like Jeff Carter are quickly forgotten. Columbus ranks 26th overall in NHL attendance, due in part to being so close to other teams (Pittsburgh fans call match-ups in Columbus “home games.”). Nash is putting bodies in seats on nights when no one else can. Without him….
I also feel for the Jackets’ fans; of course they don’t want to lose their one bright spot. These fans, all the more precious for being in an expansion market, have stuck with the team like Nash has. I hope they understand the position he’s in. They can still get solid players in a Nash trade. Come summer, teams struggling to make the playoffs now will have time to figure out what a fresh start with Nash is worth. After what will be the Jackets’ 11th rough season in a row, it’s certainly worth a try.