As we mentioned after the All-Star Game, the NHL's trade deadline -- now up in less than two weeks -- is the next major event on the NHL calendar. Some years, it's a pretty riveting time for a die-hard hockey fan.
With names like Zach Parise allegedly off the market, and a near-complete lack of available big-name talent, this year's trade deadline was setting up to be a huge dud.
(Sorry, but no one out there is going to be excited about trades for guys like Brad Boyes, Marek Zidlicky, or Mike Knuble, among others. There's a reason they're potentially on the trade block, and probably for cheap.)
That is, until news hit the internet that Columbus forward and captain Rick Nash could be traded before the Feb. 27 deadline. All of a sudden, a completely flat trade deadline has plenty of juice to carry us through the next 12 days.
Nash is a big-time player, one that has been bogged down this season by a team best described as "completely inept." A two-time 40-goal scorer, Nash is on an 82-game pace for 26 goals this season. He is a miserable minus-22 this season, after being a plus-10 for the Blue Jackets over six seasons since the lockout.
But Nash is only 27, already has 277 goals, and if he's willing to waive his no-move to go somewhere, he'll do so with six years left on his contract. Yes, the cap hit is $7.8 million, but an under-30 player who has done what Nash has done is going to likely be worth that cash.
I'm not going to mince words. The Nash speculation could save the trade deadline. We were looking at a full day of watching James Duthie, Ray Ferraro, Darren Pang, and whoever else on TSN going through the motions, and pretending to get excited when a guy like Boyes gets traded to a marginal playoff contender for some AHL guy we've never heard of, along with a conditional draft pick.
As they note at The Cannon, there are options for the return Columbus can receive. The most attractive option has to be a young franchise goalie. Columbus lacks that right now, as Steve Mason is clearly not the answer for this franchise. The team needs to move on, and it really lacks an option in the system to replace Mason right away.
Of course, Nash holds all the cards. His no-move lasts another couple years, so if Columbus is really on the verge of gutting the team and undergoing a complete rebuild, either Nash will choose to be a part of it and be a team leader through it, or he'll choose to move on to a place where he might be able to win more quickly.
For the next 12 days, his decision takes center stage. Even in a normal year, Nash would attract a lot of attention. Under-30 guys who are approaching 300 career goals will tend to do that, no matter what. But in this deadline year, where fans of buying teams groan when Tim Gleason signs a new contract and Tuomo Ruutu gets hurt, the infusion of a little energy sure can't hurt.
Whether Nash gets moved or not (better yet, whether he wants to get moved or not), he's finally given us some reason to pay serious attention to Feb. 27. He's also given those TSN commentators a reason to look forward to 10 hours of trade deadline coverage.