Rick Nash is without a doubt the best player in Columbus Blue Jackets history, and on top of that, he was honestly the most loved.
Did his tenure with the team end on great terms? No, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Jackets fan who wouldn’t welcome #61 back with open arms. He still has a presence in the community and spends large parts of his offseason in Ohio.
When Nash left in July of 2012, things were different in Columbus. There were rumors of the team potentially being on the move and they were struggling to build a team around the star forward. You couldn’t blame him for wanting out.
Fast forward to February 2018 and the Jackets have built a strong, loyal fanbase and they’re a perennial playoff contender. This year, it’s rumored they’re looking to add a scoring forward to their current group in an attempt to load up for another playoff push and wouldn’t it be a great story to see #61 rejoin the franchise in an attempt to help them win their first ever playoff series?
The Jackets have a solid group of forwards but there’s no doubt they could use an upgrade. Nash has taken a step back from his all-star days, but he does have 15 goals on the season, which would rank behind only Josh Anderson on the Jackets.
He could help bump up a powerplay that has been inconsistent this year, has playoff experience and plays on the left side. It’s close to a perfect match from a hockey perspective.
The only issue comes with Nash’s contract. He’s a UFA in July but is owed $7.8 million for the remainder of the season. GM Jarmo Kekalainen will only have about $5 million in cap space to play with at the deadline.
So if a reunion were to happen, there are two ways to get around the cap crunch.
The first is simple. The Jackets could sweeten the offer needed to acquire the 33-year-old and in return, New York could retain half of Nash’s salary. It’s a steep ask, and even though the Rangers are from a cheap organization, it would say it’s a long shot.
The second option would be to make this into a bigger trade. Maybe if the Jackets throw some added value in the deal, and send disgruntled defenseman Jack Johnson to the New York Rangers in exchange for Rick Nash and maybe even someone like Nick Holden.
The stars would have to align for this deal to work and like I said, it’s probably a long shot at best, but if I’m the Columbus Blue Jackets I’m at least making the call.