When the word broke that Rick Nash is in play, my immediate thought was the St. Louis Blues. Former Columbus Coach Ken Hitchcock is now the head Coach in St. Louis, and the Blues are starved for offense. My next thought of course was what would the deal look like?
Columbus GM Scott Howson has said the blueprint for a Nash deal would include a significant roster player, a top prospect, and a first round draft choice.
Taking that blueprint and applying it to St. Louis could look like this. Chris Stewart, Vladimir Tarasenko and the first round draft pick.
Stewart really struggled this season scoring only 30 points. The previous two seasons he produced 53 and 64 points. Sometimes a player just does not fit well with a team and simply needs a change of scenery. Still only 23 and at 62 and 228 Lbs Stewart would be worth the investment. Earning only $2.875 million Stewart is a bargain, but considering his poor stats this season when his contract expires in the summer and he becomes a restricted free agent resigning should not be a challenge for similar money. There is tremendous upside in Stewart.
Tarasenko is a top prospect. He is ranked fifth overall in the Hockey News Future Watch magazine. At only 511 185 Lbs the diminutive forward brings an impressive combination of skill, speed, and strength. The Tank led team Russia to World Junior Gold as the captain and scored a goal and an assist in the Gold Medal Game in 2011.
Columbus owns the second overall and could be looking to select Russian sniper Nail Yakupov if they trade up with Edmonton. Other options include fellow Russian Mikael Grigorenko, or Russian/American Alex Galchenyuk among others. There is always a concern having Russian born prospects of course with the possibility that they play in Russia. Having two top prospects on the same team with Russian veterans Fedor Tyutin, and Nikita Nikitin combined with the fact Galchenyuk was born in North America, and Yakupov and Grigorenko played junior in Canada should put such concerns to rest.
St. Louis has another bargaining chip to negotiate with. There is a bevy of talented goalies in the organization with Jaroslav Halak, Brian Elliott, and Jake Allen.
How does the salary cap affect the deal? St. Louis had just under $10 million in cap space this season and with 15 players under contract next season have a cap hit of only $34 million. Plenty of room! The issue is ownership. The team was recently sold by its previous majority ownership operated by Dave Checketts to Tom Stillman who had owned a 10% minority share of the Blues. If ownership is comfortable assuming the Nash contract, this deal becomes even more attractive for Columbus perhaps as they are not required to take back any unwanted cap.
The Blues had a good season and are finished with home ice advantage in the playoffs. Of the teams in the West with a playoff berth, St. Louis had the lowest goals for and could use a go to offensive player. Rick Nash would defiantly make an impact! Is the offer of Stewart, Tarasenko, and a first round pick enough? Is it the best?
By: Peter Harling
Follow me on Twitter: @pharling
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