In the 2012 offseason the New York Rangers gave up Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov for Rick Nash. This trade was to help Columbus begin their rebuilding process and to help the Rangers finally get their elite goal scorer to push them over the hump and into Stanley Cup Finals. However, four years later, the Rangers have only had one season where Nash scored 30 goals and the Blue Jackets have made the playoffs once and were promptly eliminated. While the Blue Jackets will continue to find ways to rebuild, the Rangers are stuck with a bigger problem. Rick Nash has a $7.8 million per season contract and a no-trade clause. However, just because Nash has a no-trade clause does not mean that he cannot be traded. Nash may still submit a list of 12 teams he wishes to be traded to and the Rangers can work out a trade to one of those teams. One recent example of this was Jason Spezza who declined to be traded to Nashville and eventually accepted to be traded to Dallas with only one year left on his contract. So here are the few logical options that the New York Rangers organization has to trade Rick Nash.
Keep Rick Nash
While this may not be the best option in most fans’ eyes, the Rangers front office has supported Nash throughout this season despite his 17 goal output. With this overwhelming support, it makes it very unlikely that Nash will be traded. The Rangers will also have to consider how much money could be freed up in cap space this year. Eric Staal will either leave the team or have to sign a significantly lower contract. He took up $8.25 million in cap room this year and considering his age and performance this year, he is certainly not due for a huge contract. Dan Boyle is another factor to consider. He has a contract worth $4.5 million per year and will most likely not re-sign either. Keith Yandle is yet another play who will not be matching his current contract of $5.25 million per season. With all these factors in mind, the Rangers will likely have about $20 million to resign 9 players to fill their roster. While that seems like a tight number, the Rangers have several young prospects who will likely sign very small contracts to help fill the depth of the roster. These players include Pavel Buchnevich, Ryan Gropp, Brady Skjei, and Adam Tambellini. While these players have yet to prove themselves in the NHL, they will need a mentor like Rick Nash to help them learn the ins-and-outs of the game. That is why keeping Rick Nash despite his high contract could be the best option.
Trade Him (Carolina)
If the Rangers were to trade Nash, Carolina could be the best option. The Hurricanes will have $34 million in cap space this season to sign 9 players to fill their roster. If they do not secure Steven Stamkos this off-season, Rick Nash will be one of the best available options. If what the Rangers front office said was true about a bone bruise being the cause of Nash’s poor play, he would fit in well with the Hurricanes young lineup. Nash would also have Jeff Skinner and Jordan Staal to help him get back to near 40 goal seasons. Jordan Staal would be especially helpful because in his ten seasons, he has had more assists than goals in all but 2 seasons, one of which was split even with goals and assists. The Hurricanes also have some mature defensemen that could help the Rangers defense which has struggled as of late.
Trade Him (Vancouver)
This trade is one that hasn’t been mentioned yet but could be very interesting if it were to work out. While both Vancouver and New Jersey were pretty much nonexistent in terms of scoring goals, Vancouver is in a much better situation this off-season to rebuild. They have less players to resign this off-season and already have a strong base that Nash could be able to thrive in. While New Jersey has much more trade value in terms of what the Rangers need, Vancouver has some hidden gems that if the right deal could work out, it may be beneficial for both teams. By trade value, I mean defensive talent. They may have given up the 8th most goals by any team in the league, but that doesn’t all fall on the defense. The offense couldn’t stop turning over the puck. This season, out of 898 players, 16 Vancouver players finished in the bottom half of the league in turnover differential. Rick Nash could clearly help out this situation because only four Canucks finished ahead of him as he was placed 168th in the league at a +5 differential. Nash could also help out the powerplay which ranked 27th in the league at only a 15.8% scoring rate.