Toronto Star and SportsNet hockey analyst Damien Cox reported Wednesday night that Rick Nash has included the Toronto Maple Leafs on his short list of teams he would allow the Columbus Blue Jackets to trade him to.
Cox previously wrote that Nash would fill the Maple Leafs’ need for top-six forward with size that can add some offensive punch to their attack. Sure, he’s not the center that the Maple Leafs covet, but it’s not secret that Toronto general manager Brian Burke loves big, skilled power-forwards like Nash.
The Maple Leafs aren’t the only team Nash is interested in relocating to, however. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch lists the Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, and San Jose Sharks alongside the Maple Leafs as teams that Nash has approved.
Portzline also reports that the cost to acquire Nash is a young roster player and a “combination of top prospects and quality draft picks.” Based on that, Portzline concludes that the Rangers have the inside edge, with the Kings a close second.
Apparently, the Blue Jackets have coveted Rangers’ forward Brandon Dubinsky for years, and New York has a number of young players such as blueliners Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh and Tim Erixon, and forward Chris Kreider. Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun also adds that the Rangers have about $7.0 million of cap space heading into the deadline, possibly giving them an edge over other teams.
Meanwhile, the Kings have a top goaltending prospect Jonathan Bernier to offer up, along with defenseman Jack Johnson as Zeisberger notes.
So what would it take the Maple Leafs to land Nash?
Zeisberger believes that Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson would surely ask for rookie defenseman Jake Gardiner as part of a package — one that would include at least three or four top prospects, young players and/or draft picks — from the Maple Leafs.
Aside from Gardiner, the Maple Leafs could offer a combination of roster players such as forwards Clarke MacArthur and Nikolai Kulemin, and defensemen Carl Gunnarsson, Luke Schenn, and Cody Franson and prospects like forwards Nzem Kadri and Joe Colborne, and blueliners Keith Aulie and Korbinian Holzer.
But would Burke make such an investment? Zeisberger suggests that Burke wouldn’t want to completely sell the farm. Though that doesn’t necessarily mean he couldn’t get a deal done. Elliotte Friedman of CBC points out that Burke is a creative deal maker and who is know to have the ability to pull of complicated trades that require some degree of finesse.
If they were to acquire Nash, the Maple Leafs Maple Leafs would also face some cap issues. Toronto is already up against the cap, so they would have to do some juggling to fit Nash’s $7.8 million cap hit — which he carries for the next eight years.