America’s Least Wanted
In the last year Rick Nash has gone from promised savior to feared ravisher of rosters. At one point about twenty or twenty-five fan bases across the continent dreamed of somehow reeling in the big bodied forward. Now, not so much.
Much of that is his own fault. For one, spending months coyly dancing around your desire to leave town just about guarantees no one believes what you say in the future. There were at least three or four months of ‘I want to win here’ and ‘I don’t want to be traded’ while at the same time giving indications that he would indeed waive his no trade clause, which when he finally admitted it was a mealy mouthed ‘for the good of the franchise’. Honestly, no one believed it even long enough to get offended by it.
Another piece of the equation is simply his contract. Its big, its long, it may not be justifiable by performance. If you compare him to some of the top forwards taken in the drafts around him, you get a look at what 2002’s top pick should be producing. The 2001 draft top pick was Ilya Kovalchuk, the first Russian ever taken number one, 779 NHL games 785 points also played most of his career in a hockey backwater, and was always the best player on the team. Right behind him was Jason Spezza who had a really good team for several years, and has had a really bad one for several more 606 games 616 points. The 2000 draft had Dany Heatley 751 and 742, 2003 had Eric Staal with 642 and 574 points both guys taken second overall behind goaltenders. The 2004 draft saw the moderately successful Russian pair of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin go one and two with totals of 553 and 679, and 427 and 527 respectively. All of which makes the $7,800,000.00 cap hit and roughly 8 million a year left on his contract look a little odd when laid out next to his 647 games and 547 points.
Sadly for him this makes him the second most successful point producer in his draft class. The most successful is an unrestricted free agent. The much maligned Alex Semin has produced more points per game, and not been his teams number one forward ever, unlike Nash.
The worst component of the situation isn’t Nash himself. It isn’t his contract. It isn’t even his agent. That factor is Scott Howson. Possibly my understanding of the word negotiate is different from his, but I suspect mine lines up a touch closer to the 29 other general managers in the NHL than does Howson’s. His price didn’t change around the deadline when he could have sold people on winning the Cup now. It didn’t change at the draft, where he is widely reported to have turned down all of the Islanders picks for the Columbus first pick. Had he done that, he could have taken a lesser price for Nash, gotten the situation resolved, and used those picks to get additional NHL players. It didn’t happen, no do overs in real life. So maybe just maybe, Rick Nash isn’t the real problem, or America’s Least Wanted.
@PuckSage was once a king, he shoved his sword into a rock and went into hiding. Later he bought a beer for the poor sucker that pulled it out.