directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Will he stay or will he go now?

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Will he stay or will he go now?

Well just like that the Jackets season is over and now it's time to let the offseason speculation begin!

The story to watch this entire summer will be if Rick Nash will re-sign with the Jackets come July 1st. The Dispatch has already got a jump start on this story with a Q&A yesterday:

Q: Has anything that happened this season swayed your mind one way or another about re-signing with Columbus?

A: “I’ve always said I love being a Blue Jacket, I love it here, I love the organization. From my standpoint, it’s great to see the team is heading in the right direction. Scott (Howson) is doing a great job bringing players in, making the team better and the team’s draft picks are starting to come through. It’s something that we will have to wait and see.”

Q: So the businessman in you can make no guarantees regarding a possible re-signing?

A: "You can’t make a guarantee you will be back. It’s tough to say. I can’t say ‘I guarantee I’m going to be here.’ You don’t know what’s going to happen, you don’t know what direction they are going to want to go or what direction I want to go. We’ll wait and see. Initially, I want to be in Columbus, but there is a business side to hockey and I’ll have to weigh my options."

Q: Would you be interested in signing a long-term deal?

A: “You see a lot of these crazy (long-term) contracts going around. It’s something I’m going to have to think about and something they will have to think about. I honestly haven’t really thought about doing a 10-year crazy deal.”

Everybody is certainly going to have an opinion so of course I'll throw mine in the ring.

These statements are about as vanilla as you can get. Typical Nash right? He's a class act who does a great job to make sure he doesn't offend anyone. Personally I was hoping for a little more flavor out of him considering the strides made the season and the fact this squad was just eliminated from the playoffs two days ago but Nash is too smart to drop the juicy quotes fans chew over for months.

At the same time these guys are trained by their agents to be just that...vanilla. Or to put it in better posture. As much as we want Nash to come out and say "YES!..whatever it takes I'm staying Columbus"... It just doesn't work that way.

Here's how I see it.

I do think Nash wants to stay and I think Howson wants to keep him. He is their best player, their captain and face of the franchise. He just had a career season and finally led this team to the playoffs. He is by far the Jackets most marketable player and they have invested a whole lot in his development. To loose him would certainly be a blow but not one they couldn't recover from.

I think Howson will make him an extremely fair offer and if a contract doesn't get done it won't be because of money or term. It will be because Nash wants to test the free agent market. If it comes to that it's certainly his right under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

However failure to get him re-signed will also send a concrete signal to the organization that after this next season Rick Nash is moving on which would leave them with only one option and that is to *gasp* trade Rick Nash.

Bottom line is Rick is right, there is a business side and a lot of time tough decisions have to be made. This organization has invested a lot in Rick and just cannot afford to loose him for nothing. They also cannot afford the distraction this would cause throughout the season. To maximize their return the time to make a move would be this summer as he still has a year left on his deal.

....and we all know Rick Nash would return something substantial.

Think Florida isn't kicking themselves right now for not parting ways with Jay Bouwmeester? If they could do it all over again I believe they would have moved him last summer. In their defense perhaps they thought with a good season they could convince J-bo to re-sign but even after being on the cusp of the playoffs he is still walking....and what do the Panthers get in return? Nothing.

In the case with Nash the Jackets now have that season under their belts so that can no longer be a reason on either side. Everyone now knows the organization is capable of winning. If a deal isn't done there will be only one motive and that is that Nash intends to test free agency.

Honestly though I do not think it will come to that. It just doesn't make any sense as to why it would.... and it's for the reasons I've already covered..... i.e. Howson will pay what it takes. This team is finally moving in the right direction. Nash just finished up a career season. He's the leader and face of the franchise.....and he finally has some real blue chip talent surrounding him.

As I've always said, why jump ship when it's just about to set sail?

Think about this though for a sec? What if Thursday night was Nash's final game in a Jackets uniform?


I guess it could possibly play out that way....anything's possible right? If I were a betting man I'd say he signs a 3 year 21 million dollar deal in the first week of July with a conditional no trade clause and there is much rejoice throughout Jacket nation.

I think it's a relatively short term agreement because I believe Nash will want to keep things flexible in case the organization takes a nose dive in the near future. I think the organization will be okay with that as well.

These kinds of deals are not unprecidented as both Jarome Iginla and Joe Thornton operate on 3 year pacts.

Make no mistake about it though as Nash is the #1 offseason priority for the Jackets. Once they get him squared away (be it re-signed or traded) then they'll look at their salary structure and start filling in the rest of the gaps.



Wally said...

He loses leverage if he commits now. I don't blame him.

I think he'll stay and I think Howsen will do backflips to keep him. I've never got the feeling he wanted a higher profile gig, nor do I see him as a Cup Whore like Hossa. Maybe late in his career, if he still doesn't have a cup, he could sign with a contender, but for now, I think he has worked too hard building this franchise to walk.

LTL said...

"Cup whore like Hossa"..

Dude.. that is one of the best lines I've read all year! You made my day and it's only 10 a.m.!


BZArcher said...

I think that Rick Nash is a very, very smart guy. He's not going to say anything that would screw up negotiations for him or his agent, but I do think he's serious about staying in Columbus. I think the 'You know where you can find me', was a quote that he dropped for that reason.

Max said...

If Nash doesn't want to sign a crazy deal, I don't blame him. Like LTL brought up, Iginla and Thornton both go three years at a time. Neither have tested the free agent market. Look at Tkachuk. He's a rental. But he comes back to St. Louis every time. Another player who can be named is Mike Modano. To me, he's the ultimate team player. He's been with the franchise his entire career. Never asked for the flashy long contracts or outrageous bucks. I hope Rick is paying attention to Mike's example. I really admire him for sticking with HIS team for so long.

That said, Howson resigns Nash at 12:01am on July 1st.

soultrain said...

That may be true about Hossa, but can you blame him? This Red Wings team is scary good and we all witnessed the clinic they put on for 3 and parts of the 4th game. I honestly believe that this team is better than the one that won the cup last year, the biggest question mark is Osgood. I think Nash will sign this summer, why would he take the job as captain and then bail one year later just to see the free agent market? Doesn't make sense to leave what you set out to build right when the benefits are just starting to be realized. At least its something interesting to talk about for the next few months.

Douglas said...

On the bright side, if we do lose Big Nasher (let's pray that we don't), we won't hear any more talk about how a #1 center would be pushing the cap. :P

All kidding aside, I think Nash stays, but I think he signs a high-paying short-term deal, 3-4 years. Then, if Columbus can't get it together by the time that Nash is nearing 30 (he's what, 25 now?), I expect he'll bolt.