California Dreaming: How dealing Nash to Anaheim fixes the defense
As this NHL season rolls along and we get closer to the trade deadline it becomes paramount for teams to decide what direction they need to take.
Some teams will look to buy and try to find that extra piece they think they need for a run at the Cup. Some teams will look to sell assets and prepare for next season and beyond. In the Rangers case they need an upgrade to their defense.
Yes, the obvious answers from many are Kevin Shattenkirk of the St. Louis Blues or Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes but the price to get either one will almost certainly be a first round pick, a roster player and more. That’s something the Rangers can’t afford at the moment. The Rangers will most likely have to wait until the summer to really retool their defense and one solution to their defensive issues that General Manager, Jeff Gorton must look at is trading Rick Nash.
Moving Rick Nash
We know Rick Nash can score but as of this summer his time on Broadway should be at its end. For someone getting paid almost eight million dollars a season, 20 goals just isn’t enough. And with the Rangers loaded up front, moving him makes sense.
Is Rick Nash still a valuable player in the league? Definitely but not for the price we are paying for him with the depth we have. Any deal involving Rick Nash will most likely end up with the Rangers eating salary and hopefully a fit with the list of teams he must submit per his no trade clause. The team that I see matching perfectly with the Rangers (if they are on the list) would be the Anaheim Ducks. Before we get into who exactly the Rangers would be trading for let’s talk about why they match up so well with Anaheim.
The Ducks are clearly in win now mode with the core they have invested their time and money in. Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler are their main cogs on offense but they aren’t getting any younger. They have a solid defense corps built upon Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm. They’ve come up short in past seasons and their window to win won’t be open forever.
The Ducks can use an upgrade on the wing and Nash would be a welcome addition to their forward corps. Nash on a line with Kesler, Getzlaf or even Rickard Rakell would help the Ducks with their depth and would help solidify their top nine as they look to make another run at the Stanley Cup.
Acquiring Nash would also take some pressure off of the Ducks other offensive catalysts and would give them more room to operate. Nash isn’t young but neither are most of the core pieces on the Ducks. To acquire Nash from the Rangers, the Ducks would use their embarrassment of riches of their defense corps.
For the sake of this article let’s consider Fowler and Lindholm untouchables. That leaves four very good young defensmen to go after. If I’m General Manager Jeff Gorton the players I’m looking at are Brandon Montour, Josh Manson, Shea Theodore and Sami Vatanen.
Manson and Vatanen have the most NHL experience while Theodore is seen as the Ducks best overall prospect. Montour has shown he can hang at the NHL level as well. Theodore and Montour have seen limited time at the NHL level thus far with Montour receiving the least NHL minutes.
Age is also a factor here as the Ranger would be getting much younger on defense if they added any of these defensemen. As of now their youngest of their six main defensemen is Brady Skjei (22) followed by Ryan McDonagh (27). Nick Holden, Kevin Klein, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi are either 30 and over or will be by the time the season ends. Montour (22), Theodore (21), Manson (25) and Vatanen (25) would all make the Rangers younger and more steady on the blueline and thus improves their value to the team.
Making it work
Trades always revolve around making sense for both sides and if the cap hit works as well. The trio of Montour, Theodore and Manson all have very affordable cap hits and all are under contract through the 2017-18 season. Montour earns $925,000 per season, Manson earns $825,000 per season and Theodore earns $863,000 per season. If acquired the Rangers would have all of this offseason and next season to work on an extension with any of the trio.
Vatanen is a different case as he makes much more than the young trio. Under his current deal he makes $4,875,000 a season and is under contract through the 2019-2020 season. Nash makes an albatross $7,800,000 a season and is under contract through 2017-18 so the Rangers would undoubtedly have to either take back some salary or eat some of Nash’s salary in any trade scenario.
With Vatanen and Manson the Rangers know what they’re getting. Smooth skating right handed defensemen who are smart with the puck and know how to make plays. While Manson does not put up as many points as Vatanen he is the bigger body of the two at 6’3” and 216 pounds.
Either would be a welcome addition to the Rangers blueline although in the case of the better puck mover Vatanen wins out. In the case of Theodore or Montour, the Rangers would be taking more of a gamble since neither is proven in the league just yet. Both are young and full of potential but the question is will they live up to it and just how high is their ceiling. Theodore is the one to go for out of these two but Montour is nothing to take lightly and both would be welcome additions to the Rangers blueline.
One last thing we have to look at is making room for one or possibly two of these defensemen coming over from the Ducks. Scenarios for making room for a new defensmen or two include one of our defensmen getting claimed by the Vegas Golden Knights (Most likely Kevin Klein) or a buyout or trade of either Marc Staal Or Dan Girardi (although either route would be difficult since the trade market isn’t really there for either one of them and buying them out has cap penalties). I assume the Rangers would want to keep Nick Holden since he has proven to be a very steady defenseman on the blueline this season.
With these being said, what exactly are our trade scenarios now? Keep in mind these are hypothetical and I’m sure there will be people out there who disagree with me but these deals would help the Rangers blueline and better prepare them for the future.
Possible Trade Number One:
ANA Receives Rick Nash (at 50% Salary) and a 2018 2nd Round Pick (From the Ottawa Senators acquired in the Mika Zibanejad trade)
NYR Receive either Josh Manson/Brandon Montour/Shea Theodore
In this scenario the Rangers either get a massive right handed young blueliner in Manson to patrol their blueline and play top four minutes or they go with the potential in Theodore or Montour. The Ducks get their winger in Nash, at a reduced cost, to solidify their top nine and each team addresses its needs. The Rangers throw in the second round pick for the Ducks to use in next year’s draft as extra incentive to get it done.
Possible Trade Number Two:
ANA Receives Rick Nash (At 50% Salary), The Rights to Oscar Lindberg and a 2018 Second Round Pick (From the Ottawa Senators acquired in the Mika Zibanejad Trade)
NYR Receive Sami Vatanen
This trade gets the Rangers the right handed puck moving defensemen they covet and the Ducks get Nash to solidify their top nine forward group with a big and skilled forward. They also receive the rights to Oscar Lindberg who replaces the much older Nate Thompson on the Ducks fourth line. The Rangers retain half of Nash’s salary and the Ducks also receive a second round pick to work with in next year’s draft. It might seem like a lot but to get a 25 year old defensemen in his prime the Rangers will have to give a fair amount. In this scenario Montour or Theodore takes Vatanen’s place in the Ducks lineup full time.
Possible Trade Number Three:
ANA Receives Rick Nash (at 50% Salary), the rights to Oscar Lindberg, Ryan Graves and a 2018 Second Round Pick (From the Ottawa Senators acquired in the Mika Zibanejad Trade)
NYR Receive Shea Theodore and Josh Manson
This trade would involve many more moving parts than the previous two and the Rangers might even have to add more in my opinion. The Rangers get an amazing defensive prospect who would most likely be playing with the main roster next season and the steady right handed Josh Manson.
In this scenario the Rangers must find a way to get rid two defensemen in their group of six so it would be quite tricky but if they could find a way to pull this one off and have a top four consisting of McDonagh, Skjei, Theodore and Manson that would be absolutely huge.