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What’s the most you would give up to bring in a premier talent (like Nash) to the Leafs?

If you follow this site at all closely, you know that I’m not particularly big on the rumor side of things.  Trade speculation is fun and all, but for me personally, that's not my "wheel house".  There are plenty of sites - and people - who are “good” (if we can use that term) at throwing out intriguing hypothetical scenarios, to say nothing of the legitimate “insiders” who actually speak to scouts and GM’s on a daily basis to extract any kernel of information they can in an effort to see who might indeed be “available”.

But one thing is clear, there will be at least one big “fish” out there between now and the deadline (or whenever he gets dealt, whichever comes first) and that’s Rick Nash in Columbus.  How do we know this?  Well, if several veteran reporters are correct in suggesting Nash has already given the Jackets a very short list of teams he would be willing to go to, that means that the veteran—though still a very much in his prime forward—is at the very least willing to accept a move and likely seeking one.

Is he still worth a ton?  I can’t say.  Based on a purely superficial statistical evaluation, he is having a poor season (everyone is, in Columbus) by his high standards.  But surely it's not a big leap of faith to suggest that, at 27, Nash has some excellent and offensively productive years ahead of him in the league, especially if he lands in a market and with a team that will complement his skills by surrounding him with other top-rank players.

Just about everything that we hear about Nash is that he still has a high compete level, but other than playing for Canada at the Olympics/World Championships, we don’t exactly have a large sample size of big-time games or playoff series to go by.  He has played in a total of one NHL playoff series, if I’m not mistaken.  But we know he has marvelous talent, and we also know that many players do in fact need a change of scenery to rejuvenate themselves—and their games.  I don’t doubt the guy genuinely wanted to stay for a long time in Columbus when he signed his most recent big-dollar contract.  But once again, the organization has not exactly built a team to make him excited in terms of future prospects, so, like many before him, happily or not, it looks like leaving is in fact his best option.

Where does he go?  You’d think (without my knowing all the ins and outs of the cap and whether these teams would have - or could create - the space to welcome him comfortably) Detroit, L.A., San Jose, Philadelphia, the Bruins, Rangers and Chicago could, in theory, vie for his services.

And yes, the Leafs could be very interested as well.

I mention the above teams because each has a legitimate claim to possible playoff success this year and perhaps for the next few seasons.  Nash would seemingly make each of those teams better over the next three or four seasons, assuming he stays healthy (and nowadays, that’s a big if for any player) and if they don’t give up too much of their present or future to get him.  (I include the Bruins because sometimes, a Cup-defending team needs a jolt to spruce up their intensity before they begin their “defense” of the Cup in earnest, and before they become last year’s news…)

As for the Leafs, I’m trying to determine what would be a price Burke would consider paying.  We all understand that he is unlikely to be lured by a short-term playoff run unless he honestly thought they could win their Conference come playoff time, and I doubt he sees that in the cards this spring.  So any deal would have to help the team now and for the next few years—without gutting the re-build by giving up important present or future roster pieces.

I posted a while back on what, if I was Bob Murray, the GM in Anaheim, I would absolutely insist on in a package if the Leafs approached me about Bobby Ryan or Gettzlaf.

Today, I’m turning it around:  what should Burke be willing to give up for a difference-maker, that elusive big, power-forward like Nash?

Well, again, if I were Howson in Columbus, I’d try to fetch all I could, of course.  He seems to have lost faith in young Mason, though I’m not sure Reimer would then enthuse him, as he is not yet quite “proven” as a bona fide NHL number-one goalie, either.

Instead, I’d be looking for someone to replace some of Nash’s offense, a nice future piece, and a very, very good defenseman.  Again, if was Howson,  I‘d be seeking quite a list of players.  The demand would include whoever I thought had the most upside between Kadri/Colborne, a future piece in young Devane/Blacker, a current forward like Grabovski (cheaper than Nash) and Gunnarsson.  And I'd push for a first-round pick.  That’s five assets for one.

Too much, right?

Yes, but I’m thinking from Howson’s perspective.  Now, in Burke’s shoes, obviously I’d try to offer as little as possible for a guy with a huge contract that runs a few more years at close to 8 million a season.  What would I be prepared to give up?

I’m not sure.  But if I wanted Nash (and if he doesn’t, this is a moot discussion), and knew some other top teams were competing for his services, I’d have to give up something pretty good.  I’d certainly give up Kadri and could be coaxed to offer a first-rounder.  If I had to include a defenseman, Aulie would be the guy, though I may regret it some day.

That would give Columbus three pieces to build with, and maybe a prospect in the system if they were really adamant.  Now we’re up to four players who could be NHL’ers in the next few years

Is that enough?  Does Nash even interest you?  What would you give up if you were in Burke's shoes?

I look forward to your thoughts.


  1. Boy, that's a tough question! You'd have to be interested in Nash, but as you say, could we afford the price? Would there be chemistry, and with whom? Who have we got that might be as good a fit as Carter should've been?
    I keep trying to imagine what the lines would be if he arrived. If Grabovski was part of the deal, who's the center for Nash? Connolly? Lombardi? Colborne? I don't see it, though it would be interesting to see him with Colborne.
    We've got more depth than ever, but the kind of deal that people are talking about would set our development back two years. Heaven knows our development is looking pretty tenuous right now!
    I'd pass, unless I'd decided that it was time, yet again, for a re-tool of the current squad.

  2. Word is Columbus wants legit goalie prospect minimum in trade, Toronto automatically out of the sweepstakes.

  3. I don't think I would trade for Nash. I certainly wouldn't give up five assets for him. He strikes me as a guy who is happy to play in a relatively quiet town.

    This potential trade screams Bouwmesiter all over again. A guy who gets really good press but isn't the superstar people up north think he is. I'll bet watching him every night we soon end up very disapointed in the guy. It's not like he is a perenial 100 point player, more like a 70 point guy. Not bad but certainly not great. One year only of point a game production.

    I for one would not make this trade.

  4. I am kind of torn on these arguments.

    I do see the value in building, in having and developing talent. And, by no means do I suggest the Leafs are so chock-full of can't miss prospects that they need a fire sale.

    But, we have to realize also, there are but 23 roster spots with the Leafs. As much as everyone has their favorites and their players they'd wish were gone, contracts are what they are.

    I'd daresay people now are of a mind that Kadri, Frattin and Colborne deserve to be with the Leafs next season. Start fitting those guys in your lineup... first line? well, no, Kessel-Bozak-Lupul. Many are not willing to give up on Kulemin, want to resign Grabo, and see value in CMac. Connolly, Armstrong, Lombardi are not likely to move. Brown is a fan favourite. Wow, didn't take too much to see we're down to 2 spots on a 4th line for these 3 'can't miss guys', and you still have Steckel, Crabb, Boyce who have their fans.

    We know it's the same on defence. Absolutely would love to send Komisarek's contract somewhere. Still doesn't open up a lot of room, since we'd like to keep Schenn, and Gunnar, and Aulie, and don't Holzer and Gysbers deserve a shot, and maybe Blacker is ready...

    I don't want to 'lose' a deal. And yes, 5 pieces seems a lot. I think we often forget, these deals don't always play out the way they first seem. It could be Kadri, Frattin, Blacker, Grabo and Gunnar... for Nash and another player, maybe a pick.

    Sometimes, you have to do it. I don't think folks in Dallas lament giving up Iginla, even though Iginla was a great prospect. And sometimes, you think it's a lot to give up, but it's not. I am thinking of a deal I recently looked up, Hossa and Dupuis to PIT for Armstrong, Christiansen, Esposito and a 1st round pick... what does ATL/WIN have to show for that now? They were fleeced in that deal, and at the time, it seemed such a huge price to pay for Hossa (though this is the kind of deal I see involving Nash).

    Even in Leaf history... I hated seeing Damphousse go, Clark go, Iafrate go... but, those deals turned out pretty good in the end...

    Sorry if that sounds condescending to some, it's not meant that way. I just think that sometimes the tendency to overvalue what we have makes folks worry themselves into inaction. People talked about how we couldn't get Richards or Carter or BSchenn last summer, if you want to make these deals, it's going to take those kinds of assets.

  5. Thanks Gerund O' raise some very good questions. It's tough, for sure. Some fans won't even want someone like Nash, preferring the "stand pat" approach, or hoping for a solid defenseman instead. No easy answers, eh? Are we "sure" Kadri, Frattin and Colborne will be top shelf guys? If not, the so-called depth cupboard is not as flush as we hope. may well be right. That said, what a GM insists on one day may not be what he is willing to accept a week from now....

    Wilbur...thanks for your thoughts on this one. And I do understand your position. Your reference to Bouwmeester got me thinking. A "good" player, for sure, as Nash certainly is. But there is no guarantee Nash (or anyone else, for that matter) comes here and has the impact fans want to see. But again, who knows? Good post. Thanks.

  6. The price you suggested is ludicrously high, but you're probably right in thinking that's where Howson would start (although given that he's a terrible GM, it could very well be much lower).

    I would obviously not be giving up the equivalent of 2 1st rnd picks, a 2nd rnder, a good 2nd center, and a top 4 d-man. That's an absurd price to pay for someone who has undeniable talent, but has only hit PPG twice in his career and has a HUGE price tag $7.8mil for 6 seasons after this.

    If Toronto is in fact on Rick Nash's list of teams, I think Burke would make a strong push for him. 6 years remaining isn't a *HUGE* jump from the 4-5 years that Burke generally prefers.

    I think if the Leafs give up anything less than a package of something like...
    Schenn + Kulemin + 2012 1st + Rynnas/Scrivens + Komi/Lombo/Army/Liles/Connolly (for salary purposes), I would probably be ok with it. That's the equivalent of 2 1sts, a 2nd, a goalie prospect and a salary dump, which I think is a more reasonable price. Also, I think Grabo is unlikely to be traded to CBJ because he'd probably not want to resign there. Although, the promise of Nail Yakupov joining the Jackets there next season could be enticing to both Kule and Grabo.

  7. Mark...tremendous post. I appreciate the context you provide. (As I mentioned to Gerund, it will be interesting to see how Kadri, Frattin and Colborne develop here. If they are indeed top-liners or at least significant contributors, then we do have a lot of depth...) You're right....a limited number of roster spots, limited dollars, and some players that fans don't want to part with. But at the end of the day, no one is untouchable. The question is: what is the best way to build the team so it is very competitive every year, and some year could win a Cup?

    I like your point on Iginla. Long-term, Calgary obviously "won" that trade. But short-term, didn't Dallas win a Cup? Yu can live on that for a long time. Would a GM trade one player who goes on to a strong career, in return for a Cup? Wouldn't they all, to have a Cup on their resume?

    And I agree, each of those Leaf deals you cite, where we were sad at the time to see good young players go, brought value in return. Thanks Mark.

  8. Thanks Darryl. As you mentioned, I was simply trying to look at any possible Nash deal from the Columbus perspective. The Leafs want to give up as little as they can in any trade, of course. To get Nash (and again, many fans don't think that's what the Leafs need or should pursue...) there will be a pretty big cost. I would think Schenn remains an intriguing young player for many teams. Whether the other players you suggest would be enough, I have no idea.

    You raise an interesting point about Yakupov! Thanks Darryl.

  9. It's going to end up being an ugly dance for both partners. Nash's contract is like a marriage- you better be sure you want it, and him, on your team. Friedman's article on the issue is great and there's not much I can add to it.
    Other than Columbus seems to be taking the position that they are the ones doing everyone a favor and taking almost $8M off their cap doesn't mean anything. IF the NHL GMs had any collective brains (and they don't) they'd just wait CBJ out until the price drops, which is the only way I'm interested in Burke getting into it. They can have a couple pieces- Lupul's value will never be higher, a good D prospect not named Gardiner, one of our goalie prospects and maybe a 2nd, but that's it.
    Don't forget that Nash has only had a single PPG season.

  10. Mark makes a very insightful comment: “… the tendency to overvalue what we have makes folks worry themselves into inaction. People talked about how we couldn't get Richards or Carter or BSchenn last summer, if you want to make these deals, it's going to take those kinds of assets.” My very tendency to overvalue our prospects has caused me fall into the very mental trap Mark refers to -- mea maxima culpa. For sure, I cannot wrap my head around the problem to the extent that I can come up with a specific list of available assets. I believe that this mental intertia is understandable however, given that each team’s capaologist will have as much say in the future deal as the GMs and Rick Nash himself. There are too many variables for us mere mortals to come up with an equation. In a general sense, there does appear to be several Leaf logjams forming between depth in realistic prospects and capable veterans (although on this particular morning the word “capable” does not form easily on the page). Furthermore, we do not know what Howson is looking for, how motivated he is as a seller, how big or small Nash’s list of acceptable destinations is, and so on.

    If I were Burke, I might be interested in moving certain roster players, simply because the Leafs appear to lack the necessary mojo to succeed in the crunch. Perhaps this option, more than prospects, is the way that the Columbus GM will be compelled to go. I have this unshakable image of a Scrooge like capologist wagging his finger at every scenario I can imagine … After all, you have to work within certain salary parameters. If Columbus removes $7.8 million, Howson has to replace that missing salary, or a good chunk of it at least if you are to remain within acceptable NHL parameters, doesn’t he? You see why the Scrooge-like capologist keeps coming to mind? I would say that it might make sense from a Leaf perspective if it was not all prospects, and roster player(s) were involved as well. I think that there is room to maneuver, although this brings another image to mind, that of an obscure formula cooked up by a mad scientist locked away in a garret or basement somewhere, maybe Don Cherry’s mythical “Upper Slobovia”. The implications are indeed, Frankenstein-like, which explains a good deal of the trepidation I am seeing in the fan-based media.

  11. KidK...I would never give up Gardiner, either- though, if I was a rival GM, that's exactly who I would insist on...

    Bobby C...your post has given me a nudge to develop a particular piece that is very much related to this topic- re a willingness (or not) to move draft picks and prospects. Thanks as always for a very well-written comment here...

  12. To echo a few comments, I don't think Toronto has the right mix of assets to really be in the running for Nash. Columbus is in dire need of a quality starter goaltender and that is their highest priority. The Leafs don't have anything they can offer there. A few teams that might be able to pull out the deal are Vancouver, Boston and the Kings who have Schneider/Rask/Bernier respectively. It would be harder for Vancouver to pull off the deal because of cap issues, but I can see Boston doing it (would probably cost Rask + Seguin) and that prospect scares me.

    Nash has the goods - and GMs know it, so the price would not be cheap.

  13. I think you're right, Hogie. I mentioned Boston as one of the teams that could make a run at Nash, but I don't know how widespread that sentiment is. They do have the assets, for sure. Whether they feel the need to "shake things up" to fight post-Cup complacency, I don't know.

    As for the Leafs, while I concur we may not initially be in a position to offer what Howson wants, who knows how much his "needs"/demands may shift in the days ahead? We do have some awfully enticing players that could be available (Schenn, etc...)

  14. Leafs' primary issue is keeping pucks out of the net. Part of it is goaltending, part of it weak play by the blueliners, part of it forwards failing in the two-way game. Scoring is not a part of the problem ... and this is why I cannot imagine how Rick Nash really helps this team.

    Simply, a team can't win every game 5-4, or 4-3. Nash isn't a terrible two-way player, but he doesn't help the team a ton in that regard. Nor does acquiring his services address the dire need for improvement within the bottom six and the defense corps.

    If anything, acquiring Nash in some ways works AGAINST the Leafs' best interests, in that the price paid to get him results in the Leafs having far fewer assets to use in a deal which would upgrade those areas of greater need.

    As Michael Forbes noted the other day, bereft of any other moves, the end result of acquiring Nash is going from a 5-1 loss to perhaps a 5-3 loss. He's a very good player, but the team has other needs (shutdown defender, upgrade for 3rd line) which should be well ahead of him on the priority list.

    (Never mind the contract which extends until he is 33 ... he's 27 now, and power forwards tend to wear down faster ... is he worth 7.8m/per for what might only be 2-3 years of above-average production? That's a tough sell.)

  15. Kulemin, Khadri, Komisarek, Schenn, and either Monster or Scrivens for Rick Nash.

    Komisarek is hopeless and always has been. Schenn has showed over the last two weeks that he does not care. Kulemin is expendable. Khadri for all his skill, will not be much of a two-way player, and you gotta through a Goaler in. I would keep Scrivens and lose JG though - as he does not seem to understand that you cannot play on your knees at all times - everyone knows you can beat The Monster upstairs all day and all night long.

    Nash is worth it. He is a Toronto boy, and he is being wasted in Columbus.

  16. Good stuff Garrett, thanks. To be clear, I'm not advocating that the Leafs should make a concerted effort to acquire Nash, simply asking others if they would like to see it happen, given that the team would have to give up a fair bit.

    While I respect the view you put forward, based on the Michael Forbes comment, I ask not sure I fully agree. I'm sure none of us look at a 5-1 loss in isolation and say that's the benchmark we are working from. As with the 5-0 loss versus Montreal, if a Leaf sniper scores first to give the Leafs a lead, or the Leaf goalie makes a save, it's a very different game. A player like Nash can catalyze an offence on a night when they might otherwise struggle because of their inability to finish, which is something he can certainly do. A well-timed goal can make a huge difference and change the flow of a game and how other players respond and react. Rather than trailing 2-0, you might be 1-1 heading into the third period (based, for example, on the momentum shift of having a guy like Nash), two very different scenarios to deal with...

    Would he come at a cost? For sure. And would he be a saviour? Highly unlikely.

    Thanks for a good post.

  17. I hear you loud and clear...thanks Shaftesbury....

  18. While the prospect of Nash was making me salivate just a few weeks ago, I can't help but wonder now if our needs aren't more dire on Defense right now.

    That said, I could imagine a package for Nash looking something like Schenn/Kadri/MacArthur + picks (which I would be okay with). I don't see Gardiner or (please God) Gunnar going anywhere.

  19. Well said Steve. I'm guessing you're not alone in wondering what the priorities are just now for the Leafs....I think Gunnarsson could be moved, though I hope he is not traded. Gardiner certainly not, as you mention...