Like any general manager who’s doing his job and the due diligence that goes into inquiring on the price on any ‘big name’ player who becomes available, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch is reporting that Bryan Murray kicked the tires on Rick Nash but balked at the asking price.
While the prospect of adding a legitimate scoring forward to compliment one of the team’s top two lines is an item that Murray acknowledged is on his offseason to-do list, the organization is hardly in a position to start sacrificing its best young prospects for a player who: a) turns 28 in June and will be 34 when he hits unrestricted free agency in 2018; b) is owed $7.8 million per annum through the 2017/18 season; c) had his career season – 40 goals and 79 points – three seasons ago; and d) has only cracked the 70 point threshold once in his career.
In fairness to Nash, he’s coming off his fifth consecutive season of 30-plus goals, however, in light of some well documented historical evidence (here, here and here) that suggests that the peak production years of NHL players is between 23 to 27 years of age, it’s safe to assume that Nash’s best offensive years are or will be soon behind him. (Note: this isn't meant to be taken as an absolute. A number of players obviously have good years after 27 years of age. It's just with the historical evidence, the likelihood of Ottawa overpaying in a trade for Nash based on his past production and not his future production, is far greater.)
While Nash is a very good player, any move to acquire him would undermine the rebuilding philosophy that Eugene Melnyk has assured fans will culminate in the Senators becoming a Stanley Cup contender once again. The uncertainty of Daniel Alfredsson’s future combined with a cash conscience owner who finally understands that frivolously spending money to cap ceiling does not guarantee on-ice success, has created a situation it just does not make sense for the organization to parlay young, controllable, talented, inexpensive and NHL-ready assets for Rick Nash and that contract.
So although he is a forward who has had some history of success playing on a line with Spezza on Canada's 2011 World Championship team (even if it was playing against incredible international competition like Norway) and although Spezza has had some great success carrying players like Heatley and Michalek to 50 and 35 goal seasons, the idea meeting Scott Howson’s alleged alleged asking price for Nash was 2011 top pick Mika Zibanejad, top prospect Mark Stone, a first-round pick and a roster player, is the kind of mired-in-mediocrity move that would be more befitting of the Calgary Flames’ bumbling Jay Feaster.
More Garrioch Nuggets:
- Apparently the Senators are still looking to move the final year of Sergei Gonchar’s three-year deal that will pay him $5.5 million next season. As unlikely that it is that they’ll be able to find a taker without inheriting taking back a terrible contract in return, it’s almost just as unlikely that they would move Gonchar knowing that they’re likely to lose Filip Kuba to unrestricted free agency on July 1st.
- With a weak free agent market and management’s reluctance to parlay some of the organization’s best position players and draft picks in a package for a top six forward, Garrioch wondered whether a trade proposal involving one of the team’s young goaltending prospects – Lehner or Bishop – would be tempting enough for Bryan Murray to pull the trigger on such a deal.
As tempting as it would be to see what any of Ottawa’s goaltenders could net in a trade, any such trade would invest a ton of trust in whoever wasn’t dealt to shoulder the load. For as much faith as I would like to place in either of the team’s prospects, Lehner's young career has been riddled with nagging injuries and bouts of inconsistency while Bishop has the lower ceiling and simply lacks NHL experience.
Thanks to a saturated goaltending market – Luongo/Schneider, Bernier, Kiprusoff, Thomas/Rask, Harding, Vokoun, and Lindback – and the likelihood of prospects like Malcolm Subban and Andrei Vasilevski being taken in the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, perhaps Ottawa would be better served waiting for another team to have goaltending struggles or an injury before moving some of their depth now.