Thursday, February 16, 2012
Trade rumblings: Despite mutual interest, Rick Nash to Wings not likely to happen
By Pierre LeBrun
If I had to wager, I’d say the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings are the most likely new homes for Rick Nash if there’s a pre-deadline deal.
But there’s certainly an Original Six team that would like Nash's services if this were June and not February -- the Detroit Red Wings.
I also believe Nash would love to play for the Wings, but the odds of him landing in Hockeytown before Feb. 27 are not great whatsoever.
- Nash’s $7.8 million cap hit is too large for Detroit to absorb now unless the Red Wings give up roster players that they don’t want to get rid of.
- The optics of the Blue Jackets moving Nash to the hated Red Wings are brutal for fans in Columbus. At the very least, the Jackets would make the divisional rivals pay more than most other teams in the mix, not wanting to have Nash parade around in the Central for the next six years.
- The Wings are loathe to mess with the chemistry and equilibrium they’ve established as the first-place team in the West and that’s exactly what would happen given that the Jackets are seeking three to five assets in any Nash trade they make.
- Nash enjoyed playing for Wings head coach Mike Babcock at the 2010 Olympics, and I can tell you Babcock was a huge fan of his at the Vancouver Games. Also, Detroit would not only represent a chance to win every year for Nash, it would be a short flight or a 4½-hour drive from his native Brampton, Ontario (north of Toronto).
- Let’s say Nash does survive this deadline and becomes a June transaction. Here’s the question you have to ask yourself if you’re Detroit: Do you spend assets to get Nash or do you wait until July 1 and take a run at Zach Parise, for whom you wouldn’t have to give up assets? Tough call, especially since there’s no guarantee that Parise won’t re-sign with New Jersey or sign with another of the many suitors there will be July 1.
Bottom line? If Nash moves before the Feb. 27 deadline, it almost surely won't be to Detroit.
I like the Rangers and Kings as front-runners both in their desire to acquire Nash and their ability to deliver on the assets the Blue Jackets require.
I’d list Toronto, San Jose, Vancouver and Philadelphia as wild cards on the Nash front.
But an offseason trade? That might be a different story for a lot of teams, including Detroit.
Moore's move to San JoseThe Lightning are clearly in selling mode, announcing earlier Thursday that they are sitting Pavel Kubina until they move him and trading Dominic Moore to San Jose later in the day. Both are unrestricted free agents on July 1.
This is a terrific pickup by the Sharks. Moore gives the Sharks a versatile player who can play on either the second or third line, kill penalties and help the Sharks in the faceoff circle.
Moore has also raised his level of play the past two playoff years -- reaching the conference finals with Montreal in 2010 and with Tampa last spring and playing well during both runs. He’s a gritty, smart player.
The Lightning and Moore’s agent, Larry Kelly, held contract talks the past few weeks but never could bridge the gap.
In the end, however, GM Steve Yzerman is saying this season’s roster wasn’t nearly good enough to keep intact, as Kubina will soon be following Moore through the exit in Tampa. More changes are coming.
As for Kubina, he must deliver a list of five teams to Yzerman that he'd be willing to be traded according to the terms of his limited no-trade clause.
Kubina's agent Petr Svoboda told ESPN.com Thursday night that a list had not yet been determined and that they had seven days to provide it. It is not expected to take that long to deliver it to Tampa. Svoboda said he was planning to meet with Yzerman on Friday to continue the dialogue.
Grossman to PhiladelphiaThe Flyers got their defenseman when they picked up Nicklas Grossman from the Dallas Stars on Thursday in exchange for second- and third-round picks.
Philadelphia had long been looking for one since losing Chris Pronger for the season. And as I had speculated a few weeks ago in a Rumblings blog, Grossman is a blueliner that the Flyers had eyed.
"He’s a No. 4 defenseman," former Stars head coach Marc Crawford, who coached Grossman in Dallas, told ESPN.com Thursday night. "He’s one of the few guys that were available on the market that you look at and feel he can play against top guys."
Grossman is slated for unrestricted free agency on July 1. The Stars had talked about an extension with his camp but never came close.
Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk told ESPN.com that he feels he has good depth at the blue line position throughout the organization and that the team couldn’t pass up getting two good assets for Grossman.
Does this mean the Stars are sellers?
"No, it doesn’t mean we’re sellers," Nieuwendyk said. "It means we’re active. We’re trying to make this team better."
As for the Flyers, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the team adding another defenseman on top of Grossman. I don’t sense they’re done yet.
Kings looking for offensive upgradeInteresting that the more you talk to teams around the league, the more you hear the name of Kings blueliner Jack Johnson being available if it means L.A. can seriously upgrade its offense via a first-line forward.
Johnson is in the first season of a seven-year, $30.5 million contract.
Young backup goalie Jonathan Bernier is another name out there. No surprise there given the Vezina-worthy emergence of Jonathan Quick.
Both Johnson and Bernier, in my opinion, would be part of any deal involving Rick Nash.
One NHL team executive wondered to ESPN.com this week if the Kings struck out on Nash whether Jackets teammate Jeff Carter would be the consolation prize. Perhaps. I believe the Jackets and Kings talked about Carter way before the Nash situation ever came into play this week.
Capitals waiting on BackstromThe Washington Capitals have taken a look at Jackets forward Antoine Vermette, among other players, but it’s not yet clear if they’ll be active or not before the deadline.
The key factor in all this is the health of star center Nicklas Backstrom, still out with a concussion. The Caps want to see how he is feeling closer to Feb. 27 before deciding whether or not they’ll make a move.
Senators' prospects a no-goThe Senators have looked around the league and made calls regarding a forward, but the asking price is more often than not one of Ottawa’s top prospects. And that’s a no-go.
"I’m not doing that, I can tell you that," Sens GM Bryan Murray told ESPN.com Thursday. "I’m not looking for a short-term fix."
The Senators still have their eye on the big picture, which is to continue with their plan of developing a young and talented team. No shortcuts.
Still, if a top-six winger with an expiring contract is available without requiring the Sens to give up the farm, Murray will look at it.
"I’d be OK with a rental if it was the right price," said Murray.
No Premiere Games?It’s very possible that the Premiere Games will not get scheduled next season, from what I’m told, because of the labor uncertainty with the collective bargaining agreement expiring Sept. 15. No final decision has been taken in that regard, but at this point it doesn’t look promising.
The NHL has had regular-season games every year across the pond since September 2007, when the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings tangled in London. Since then, regular-season games have been played in Stockholm, Helsinki, Prague and Berlin.
But it appears very possible that there won’t be NHL games in Europe next fall.
Temporary salary capIn what has been a vastly under-the-radar story, a buzz item among NHL GMs these days is how they’re going to approach this summer with what will be a higher but temporary salary cap number.
The collective bargaining agreement doesn’t expire until Sept. 15 at midnight ET.
But NHL teams have to conduct business under this current CBA until then. As per the current system, the salary cap is once again expected to rise as of June 30 from the current $64.3 million upper limit to as high as $68 million to $69 million, according to guesstimates from some team executives.
That new cap number will exist only from June 30 to whenever a new CBA comes into effect.
The obvious issue is that most teams believe the cap will go down in the new CBA as owners try to scale back the players’ percentage of revenues (the players will have a mighty say in that, however).
So, you could have a situation where the cap is around $69 million for the summer and then much lower come the fall with a new CBA (again, the players will have a say in that).
This will force teams to come up with their own internal cap number based solely on guesswork this summer, because the last thing a team wants is to have a $69 million payroll on Aug. 30 and then be told it needs to shed a chunk of it come the new CBA in the fall.
Either way, just another wrinkle for this summer’s free-agent market.