BOSTON (CBS) — According to The Columbus Dispatch, as many as seven teams have already begun “significant” conversations with the Columbus Blue Jackets regarding star forward Rick Nash. Might the Boston Bruins be one of them?
The likely answer, at this time, is no, but the truth is we can’t really know for sure. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli was a guest on Toucher & Rich this week, and he said the team has enough cap space to add a big salary.
Chiarelli, though, was talking about the prospect of signing a big-name free agent, not acquiring a big name via trade, and he spoke highly of the current group of B’s forwards, which includes the newly signed Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell.
“I feel very strongly about our forward group,” Chiarelli said. “Part of when you do a real big signing like that, you have to look if it impacts and effects the balance of equity among your group, and that plays to team chemistry. That would be something we look at.”
Nash, who turns 28 this weekend, is only two years into his eight-year, $62.4 million contract that runs through the 2017-18 season with a $7.8 million cap hit.
Obviously, acquiring any player for that long with so much money committed to him would be a risky proposition, unless that player was named Wayne or Mario. And while Nash may have the reputation of a prolific scorer, he’s never ended a season with 80 points. Granted, he hasn’t played on the strongest of teams, but he’s averaged 35 goals and 33 assists per season over the past five years.
Certainly, for a team like the Bruins, adding a 30-plus goal scorer would work wonders for the offense, which struggled mightily at crucial times throughout the past season and first-round series with Washington.
But when you consider that the Bruins would likely have to give up some key players and/or top prospects, and that they no longer have a surplus of goaltending, and add on the massive salary and corresponding cap hit, the likelihood of the Bruins adding Nash have to be rather close to zero.
Still, for the sake of being thorough, what would the Bruins have to give up if they did want Nash?
The Dispatch report said the Jackets will want a forward to replace Nash, at least. David Krejci is signed through the 2014-15 season at a more manageable $5.25 million cap hit, while Milan Lucic is set to become a restricted free agent after next season. Krejci is two years younger than Nash and has averaged 19 goals and 44 assists over the past four years, while also posting 20-27-47 totals in 57 career playoff games. Lucic is four years younger than Nash and does have a 30-goal season under his belt, one that he followed up this past season with a 26-goal effort. In fact, last season, Lucic finished with two more points than Nash.
While the idea of Chiarelli being willing to trade either Krejci or Lucic is not unfathomable, shipping off the homegrown talent for a player who’s not a guaranteed upgrade would not fit within the GM’s MO.
And given that Chiarelli said the team can find a way to make a big free-agent signing, and with a prospect or two ready to make the jump to the NHL, there’s just no reason for the Bruins to even be mentioned in the Rick Nash pandemonium that is sure to ensue over the next week (or perhaps even longer).
The Dispatch reported that Nash is most likely to be traded by next Thursday, the eve of this year’s draft. It would make little sense for the Bruins to get involved at all in the discussion, and given what we know about Chiarelli, it’s safe to believe they won’t.