Not long ago, PHT passed along word that the New York Rangers have reportedly asked Rick Nash to hand over his no-trade lists.
Basically, it breaks down as: 18 teams he wouldn’t accept a trade to and 12 teams he’d accept a trade to.
As TSN’s Bob McKenzie notes in that post, it’s possible that Nash could try to short-circuit a potential move by listing 12 teams that wouldn’t be likely to have interest. It’s also worth noting that we don’t know how either of Nash’s lists shake out.
While much is up in the air, there are some objective facts worth keeping in mind: Nash is 33, so it’s that much more likely that he’d be seen as a pure rental. As a pending UFA, he could easily return to the Rangers during the summer, if there’s mutual interest.
Nash also carries a colossal $7.8 million cap hit this season. On the bright side, Cap Friendly estimates his remaining cap hit as $2.6M as of today; either way, a team might prefer that the Rangers retain at least part of his salary, or eat a funky contract in return.
One other note: back in June 2016, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported that Nash would not accept a trade to a Canadian team on a previous no-trade list. It’s unclear if that stance has changed, as he might be more amenable to such an idea in a contract year.
Anyway, it could be a fun exercise to ponder 12 potential destinations for Nash. Keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily a list of the 12 most likely destinations. In a lot of cases, it came down to entertainment value, so your mileage may vary.
Now, in no particular order while assuming that the Rangers wouldn’t send Nash to the Islanders:
Columbus Blue Jackets
How fun would a reunion be?
Back in 2002, Nash became the Blue Jackets’ first-ever No. 1 overall pick after they selected fourth overall in 2000 and eighth in 2001. In nine seasons with Columbus, Nash was often the only bright side on shaky roster, scoring almost 300 goals. The nostalgia factor would be extremely cool here.
But it’s not just about that.
Nash has experience with John Tortorella, something that should never be underestimated. This Blue Jackets team seems like it should be taking the next step forward; maybe an old hero could give them that extra shove?
(It helps that Columbus has relatively solid salary cap flexibility, too.)
The Rangers might not want to enhance their division rival’s chances of winning three in a row, but what if Pittsburgh makes them a great offer?
Pittsburgh would probably need to package a contract or two to make this work (Ian Cole, maybe a Carl Hagelin reunion?), yet that thought might sweeten the pot for the Blueshirts.
Injuries have really been an issue for the Penguins, so Nash would be a nice fit, especially since he’d likely do well in their aggressive offense. Who knows how many shots this core has left, so why not take a big swing with Nash?
Bonus points in this case for uniting kindred spirits.
The Capitals put up big numbers in the regular season, only to suffer heartbreak in the playoffs, though the attacks on their character often feel like a bit much.
Rick Nash puts up big numbers in the reg–you know what, you probably get where that is going.
It would be poetic if the Capitals and Nash finally broke through together, much like that time A-Rod actually tore up the MLB playoffs.
St. Louis Blues
Injuries and regression took the bloom off the rose a bit for the Blues – remember when they were one of the hottest teams in the league? – but Nash could really tie the room together, especially if they insist on loading up with that top line of Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn, and Vladimir Tarasenko.
Nash – Paul Stastny – Alexander Steen could be an extremely expensive and potentially dangerous second line, with plenty of motivation considering that Stastny, like Nash, is in a contract year.
You could probably assign some of that Capitals logic to Nash with St. Louis, too, as they’ve been snakebitten around spring time far too often.
San Jose Sharks
Let’s end this trilogy of torment with the Sharks (granted, San Jose shook off at least some of its baggage in making the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.)
This Sharks team is getting old enough that Nash won’t stick out like a sore thumb, so that’s nice.
Speaking of soreness, the Sharks’ trade decisions may hinge on Joe Thornton‘s knee, and adding Nash would make a lot of sense with a reasonably healthy Jumbo Joe. The two enjoyed some great scoring times together in Switzerland during one of the NHL’s lockouts, so maybe they’d rekindle that magic again? Thornton’s one of the rare expiring contract guys who’s actually making slightly more than Nash at $8M.
Consider how imbalanced the Stars’ scoring has been this season, and then imagine what would happen to this team if one or more of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov, and John Klingberg got hurt?
Nash could add some punch to a team that’s making strides under Ken Hitchcock. You might not think that Dallas is a team that needs to worry about its window closing, but consider this: Tyler Seguin’s $5.75M cap hit expires after 2018-19. If they lock him up after that (psst. they should), then they might not have the cash for future rentals.
Why not stream a blockbuster while you still can?
Most of these teams would need the Rangers to take on a shaky contract, retain some salary, or both. The B’s rank as one of the tougher nuts to crack in that regard, and I’d wager that they’d probably be a better destination for fellow Rangers trade piece Michael Grabner with all of that in mind.
That said, it would be an interesting fit. During a playoff series, someone might miraculously slow down the locomotive that is the Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak line. If so, a supplemental scorer such as Nash could make a sneaky-impressive Bruins team that much more formidable.
So, we’re going to name a Canadian team here or there, just in case. As Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos said on Saturday:
“Maybe, just maybe, a guy like Rick Nash would be of interest,” Kypreos said. “I don’t know whether or not that would fit in with where he is in his list of teams that he’d want to go to. But that’s the type of guy I think that Winnipeg would be looking at.”
Beyond the Jets’ legitimate potential for a deep run (or at least a first ever playoff win), imagine how much offense Nash could generate if he landed on a line with Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele? Hey, if Nash waited until closer to the trade deadline, he’d bypass a good chunk of the brutal Winnipeg winter as well.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Winnipeg seems more realistic than Toronto if Nash resists the fishbowl atmosphere of Canadian media coverage. That said, maybe playing for Mike Babcock would make a difference?
Babs loves his veteran forwards, and his heart likely warms for Canadian Olympians, so that’s two boxes Nash checks off.
Again, this one might be far-fetched, yet Nash in a Maple Leafs jersey sounds pretty fun.
Ignore the Ducks’ youthful, impressive defensemen for a moment and consider their aging veteran forwards. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are both 32, while Ryan Kesler is 33. Much like Nash, these guys have a lot of mileage on them as longtime go-to players.
It’s been an odd duck season for Anaheim, but if they can get it together (and lock up a playoff spot), few teams would be all that eager to face this team in the playoffs. Nash could be that boost they need.
Los Angeles Kings
At least when it comes to forwards, the California teams sure feel a little creaky these days, don’t they?
Much like with the Sharks and Joe Thornton, a flawed Kings team could be a dangerous dark horse candidate if a) they land Nash and b) their injured center – in this case, Jeff Carter – can come back and be at least mostly himself.
Then again, the old guard in L.A. loved going for power forwards in Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic, and those short-term moves left quite a bit to be desired, so maybe this wouldn’t appeal enough to the Kings.
You could put a number of teams in this 12th spot. Maybe the Devils and Rangers would make nice long enough to find a deal? Perhaps the Hurricanes would be proactive and try to fight their way out of purgatory?
Philly might be a little harsh for a streaky scorer like Nash, but look at that current lineup, and imagine it with that little extra “oomph.” Nash could allow the Flyers to move Jakub Voracek back with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. He could fit into that deadly top power play or maybe echo Phil Kessel in Pittsburgh by giving this team a more varied attack.
Despite a frustrating four-game losing streak, the Flyers are still in wild card position as of this writing. GM Ron Hextall has done a masterful job breaking the organization’s old, reckless habits of going after headline-stealing trades and signings. Still, every now and then it actually pays to be bold. They merely need to consult the other team in their state for prime examples.
To reiterate, this is not a list of the 12 teams Nash would accept trades to. He still might refuse a trip to the Great White North. He may only want to stay as close to NYC as possible.
That said, it can often be as fun to picture different trade scenarios as it is to watch real ones play out.
What are some other teams that would make sense? And would you even want Nash on your team? Do tell.
NHL.com’s Dan Rosen reasonably throws the Nashville Predators in the mix, too:
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.