Let's say you're a fan of, say, any team in the NHL that isn't the Minnesota Wild.
Like the other 29 teams in the NHL, it doesn't appear your team is too enamored with the idea of signing Alexander Semin.
Who's left? Are there any players who can make the kind of impact Parise or Suter could have made, or that they have made with the Wild (at least -- for now -- in terms of season ticket and merchandise sales)?
The answer is "Yes," but the impact players available are not free agents.
Specifically, there are two players rumored to be on the trade block who could make a real impact with new teams come October. Both are star forwards from the Western Conference, and one of them is a team captain.
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash signed a new contract in July 2009, one that was expected to make him the cornerstone of the Columbus franchise for years to come. Instead, the team captain appears ready to depart. After Columbus general manager Scott Howson failed to trade him at the February deadline, Nash is now a top target for an offseason trade.
Nash has played on one postseason team in his career, but has generally played for some pretty bad teams in Ohio. Despite being one of the few true offensive threats on the roster, Nash has put up some big numbers with the Blue Jackets. He is 11 goals away from 300 in his career, and has not tallied fewer than 25 goals in any season since his rookie campaign. Nash turned 28 last month, and has already played 674 regular-season games in the NHL, so there are miles on the proverbial tires. That said, he's a talented player who is hungry to play for a contender.
The other top candidate is Anaheim's Bobby Ryan. The Ducks have gone from a Stanley Cup champion in 2007 to a team that is nowhere near the elite of the West. Ryan has been a rumored trade target for a while, and his draft week comments may have been the end of his time with the Ducks.
(I'm not ripping Ryan for what he said. He's frustrated with how the franchise has treated him, and he has every right to be. I have no earthly idea why Bob Murray would ever think that trading Ryan is a good idea, especially given the mass exodus of stars from Anaheim in the last three or so years.)
Ryan is a goal scorer, though not quite as accomplished as Nash. He's topped 30 goals in four straight seasons, with 136 goals in 332 games. He's younger than Nash by three years (Ryan turned 25 in March).
If you compare and contrast the two, Nash has a better NHL record, but that might be due in large part to his age, along with the fact that he's always been the alpha dog in Columbus, while Ryan has played second fiddle to guys like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and even Teemu Selanne over his career.
According to our friends at CapGeek, Ryan has a cap number of $5.1 million through the 2014-15 season. He can be an unrestricted free agent at that time. Nash's cap number is $7.8 million through the 2017-18 season.
What's the cost for the players? Well, reports last week had Howson asking for Jeff Skinner from Carolina in a trade, one that Nash would still have to approve (Carolina's not on his list). Besides being absolutely preposterous, it does show what Howson thinks the value for Nash is. He's probably wrong, but it's not unreasonable to suggest that Nash will (and should) bring Columbus an NHL-level player -- probably a top-six forward or top-four defenseman -- and a draft pick.
The price for Ryan is not known, but could be around the same. Like Howson, Murray should have no shortage of teams interested. The difference? Ryan doesn't have a no-trade clause. Nash does. While Murray would be smart to work with Ryan on finding a desirable trade partner who would work for everyone involved, he is under no obligation to do so.
When you throw that in with the age, cap numbers, and games played factors, it seems to me Ryan is a better trade value. Both players should be moved before the fall, and it's a whole new opportunity for teams to add to their talent pool before the season starts.
These moves will cost player assets in return, but they are the next chance for teams to make an impact the way the Wild did last week. Despite the potential cost involved, someone will jump at the chance.