January 24, 2012; Tampa FL, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Rick Nash (61) shoots during the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Without Crosby And Stills, We Don't Need Nash.

The trade deadline is now five days away, many observers are waiting with baited breathe to see what Dale Tallon and the Florida Panthers cook up in this years frenzy.  Don’t expect the truck to be backed up like last season, where Dale sent many a player and fat contracts out of town for what basically amounted to bodies to finish the season with.  This year, the Florida Panthers aren’t sellers, they’re buyers.  And that right there should make you purr like a kitty.  Dale has indicated on more than one occasion recently that he’ll be looking to improve the offence, and rightfully so as the Panthers have scored three times in the last nine periods of hockey, and are near the bottom of the NHL in goal scoring.

A few big names are being tossed around as “available” players, and one of those names is Rick Nash.  You all remember him don’t you?  Drafted first overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2002 draft.  A position that the Florida Panthers held, but swapped with Columbus so that they could draft Nash, while the Panthers drafted Jay Boumweester with the third pick.  You all know how that as worked out so I won’t remind you.  Ken Campbell of The Hockey News calls Jay the most overrated players in the NHL here.

Nash has been stuck in Columbus now for eight seasons (already?), and is being shopped like the latest “hot” stock tip.  If I were a stock broker (which I’m not) I’d be prone to offer all of the positives of Nash in an effort for obtaining the best offer I can get.  He’s big at  6′ 4′ 219 lbs.  A pure power forward.  He has the ability to score goals in bunches, and has 278 in his NHL career.  He brings a little sandpaper with him, and while he’s not known as a fighter by any means, he’ll stick up for his team and toss his weight around when needed.  He’s shooter, not quite sniperlike, but with a very good shot.  He’s captain of his team, and is committed to his organization so loyalty isn’t an issue.  When can I deliver him?

Don’t get your hopes up kids.  I can think of $7.8 million reasons why Florida should stay away from him, but will keep will focus on just a few.  Since we’re on the subject of money, that’s a contract that will be as heavy as a manhole cover if he didn’t work out.  Plus we would have close to $15 million dollars tied up in two players (Brian Campbell), and I don’t know about you, but the last time something like that happened (Pavel Bure) the organEYEzation was handcuffed.  While the Panthers are well below the salary cap, they have some work to do with players on the roster who’s contracts are coming to the end of their term.

Kris Versteeg should be the first player signed to a long term deal.  He’s an RFA at the end of the season, and I see no reason why he’s not signed to a four year deal in the range of $4.5 million per season.  Defenceman Dmitry Kulikov is another RFA at the end of the season, and for all of his defensive deficiencies it’s obvious that the Panthers need his passing ability.  He’s still young and learning, but could be a cornerstone on the blueline with Erik Gudbranson for years. Kulilov could probably be had for about $2 million a season, and maybe a shorter term than Versteeg in an effort to inspire him to produce.  Jason Garrison is a UFA after this season, and will be looking for a hefty raise from his bargain contract of $675,000.  The question is, how much is he asking, and how much are we willing to pay.  Keaton Ellerby is another RFA after this season, and if he’s to stick around I don’t see him getting much more than what he’s already making, but still considering those are at least four players who either need to be signed, or replaced by another.  There’s a handful of other contracts that will be expiring following this season, and again those players will either be replaced, or resigned.

Now back to acquiring Nash…..what would it cost us, and what would we be willing to give?  Scott Howsen knows he has a top quality player on his hands and is in a position to ask for the moon.  If I were him, I’d want at least one proven forward, a young forward or defenceman with some NHL experience, and either a top prospect or a number one draft pick.  For Rick Nash none of that sounds good to me when you combine taking on his contract for potentially mortgaging the future.  Dale’s blueprint would be shredded with a deal like this, and I doubt very much it would happen.  Why?

Ask yourself how much better the Panthers would be by adding Nash?  Yes we’d have a goal scorer, but his production wouldn’t be much better than it’s already been for one simple reason.  He won’t have a number one center to dish him the puck.  Columbus has tried to make things work with a myriad of players including RJ Umberger, Antoine Vermette, and this year Jeff Carter.  He hasn’t made anyone of them better, and with all his talent Nash has only scored 40 goals one time.  If I’m going to pay a guy $7.8 million, you better be getting 40 goals every season.  Is he really a guy that you build your team around, or is he a missing piece that gets you to the top?  In addition he has virtually no playoff experience, which for me is bothersome.

While I have been an advocate for scoring ever since the Russian Rocket left town, this isn’t the direction I’d like to see us go in, and I’m the first to tell you we need scoring.  There are however less expensive options, and more reasonable players to choose from.  Plus it is my firm belief that we need a center for the top line.  That should be the priority not only now at the deadline, but going into next season.

All that said, I’m hoping the Panthers make a deal for a player that will improve the offensive part of the game.  But unless your getting a Jonathan Toews (who is NOT available), or Zach Parise who is, go a much less expensive direction.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

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Tags: Columbus Blue Jackets Crosby Florida Panthers Jonathan Toews Rick Nash Scott Howson Stills And Nash Zach Parise

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