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Let’s dissect a Rick Nash trade rumor

By Tom

Friend of DBJ (F.O.D.?) Lori Schmidt of Columbus sports radio 97.1 The Fan has a nifty blog of her own, one that covers the gamut of Columbus sports.  Columbus Blue Jackets fans should know that Lori knows her hockey and has a terrific ability to separate wheat from chaff.  Thus, my dark blue ears perked up when she posted “A Brief Rick Nash Rumor Rundown.”

Lori’s a journalist.  The rumors she presents are largely those that have been vetted through proper journalistic channels (find a source, get a story, confirm story with a second source, run the story).  When they’re more scurrilous rumors, she generally either skips sharing them or makes specific note of their sketchiness.  Point being, it’s worth reading what Lori links.

One of the articles linked in the “Rundown” was a piece out of Boston that reviewed the Bruins offseason activities.  The Bruins are worth watching because they are apparently on the Blue Jackets captain’s list of teams to which he’s willing to move.  Nash, as you might remember, has a “no trade clause” in his contract, allowing him to veto any trade that he doesn’t like.  The article suggests that the Bruins are no longer pursuing Nash, but the dialogue between the parties gives insight as to the Blue Jackets’ negotiating position.

The first point of information is the rumored trade request from Columbus: Nash for forwards David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin and defensive prospect Dougie (Yeah, he apparently goes by “Dougie”) Hamilton.  An outsized request?  Sure, but the Bruins are up against the salary cap and would need to jettison both players and salary to accommodate Nash and his weighty $7.8 million salary cap hit.  It looks to me like the Blue Jackets tried to take full advantage of that fact.  From this CBJ fan’s perspective, it’s a shame that Boston didn’t bite.

Where it gets even more curious is this nugget:

Last week, Columbus general manager Scott Howson also told TSN that he wants “a couple of NHL forwards” in any trade for Nash. But according to a source, the sticking point between the Bruins and Blue Jackets was also that the Blue Jackets wanted an NHL defenseman with experience. Besides Zdeno Chara, who both sides understand isn’t available, the Bruins don’t have what the Blue Jackets are looking for.

I think we’re looking at two different stories that have been combined in the hopes of creating a coherent whole.  The article was posted on July 18.  That makes “last week” the week of the 9th through the 13th.  The TSN comment suggests that Howson may have lightened his trade demand a touch – recall that the rumor shared above suggested three forwards in addition to Hamilton.  Interesting to know, especially as it came straight from the horse’s mouth.

What to make of this “NHL defenseman with experience” bit, though?  First, we need to recognize that the author’s source is different than the TSN interviewer who got the “couple of NHL forwards” nugget from Howson.  We then start scratching our heads: Why would Howson make a defenseman a deal-breaker when he already has seven blueliners in the stable (James Wisniewski, Jack Johnson, Fedor Tyutin, Nikita Nikitin, Adrian Aucoin, John Moore and Ryan Murray)?  The team needs scoring (badly) and quality goaltending.  An extra defenseman could help, I guess, but I have a hard time believing that Howson would quash a trade of a player he’s been trying to move for nearly six months over a skill area where, relatively speaking, the Blue Jackets are all set for 2012-13.

If I had to guess, the Boston writer’s source was sharing information about the Blue Jackets’ bargaining position from before the free agency signing period kickoff on July 1st…perhaps even before the NHL entry draft.  Remember, Aucoin was brought in at the start of free agency – and he’s an NHL defenseman with experience.  Also, the CBJ drafted blueliner Ryan Murray second overall.  The recently-concluded development camp suggests that Murray has the skills to compete for a roster slot in the forthcoming training camp.  Point being, the Blue Jackets fixed that problem outside of a Nash trade.  A defensive prospect like Hamilton could make sense as a component of a trade, but not in the role of “defenseman with experience.”

People wiser than I suggest that journalism is the first draft in the writing of the history books.  First drafts often aren’t perfect.  Good journalists may be right on their facts, but a writer who’s trying to offer background on a topic with which he is not intimately familiar – like, say, a Boston writer offering insight on the (to him) out-0f-conference Columbus Blue Jackets – might get those facts out of chronological order.  If I had to guess, that’s what happened here.

Did these rumors amount to anything?  No.  Nash is still a Blue Jacket, and Boston appears to have stopped pursuing Nash.  We are left with additional insight on what the Blue Jackets have been scouring for – scoring and defense – at least when it comes to picking over the Bruins yard sale offerings.  As a Blue Jackets fan, I can think of worse things to know.  (But I still would like to see another legitimate NHL goaltender in the mix.)

Now, what do the New York Rangers have to offer?

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