Nash(ville) Problems


For the past few days in the NHL realm, anything involving the four letters N-A-S-H has been an unadulterated disaster. From Columbus GM Scott Howson’s inability to expand the trade market and drive the price up on his best offensive player to the sobbing mess that Nashville GM David Poile has inevitably been reduced to, everything NASH-related has been toxic.

Poor Poile. Thanks to the loss of talented players like Alexander Radulov and Ryan Suter, every outsider watching the Nashville situation is greedily rubbing their hands together wondering what it will take to pry RFA defenceman Shea Weber away.

It’s easy to feel sorry for the Nashville GM.

After years of savvy management and the cultivation of some franchise defencemen and a franchise goaltender, Poile recognized that the window of opportunity for his small-market team was small and went all in – moving future assets towards the trade deadline for the likes of Hal Gill, Andrei Kostitsyn and Paul Gaustad. Combined with the return of Radulov from his KHL exodus, it actually started looking like the stars had aligned for the Preds…

…Until Radulov and Kostitsyn broke curfew in the second round of their playoff series versus the Phoenix Coyotes and were suspended two games. From that moment, the Predators never seemed to gain any momentum and were eventually eliminated in five games.

Imagine after all of those years of hard work and diligence, it all dissipates in another playoff exit and Ryan Suter’s departure. With Weber’s restricted free agent status, there’s barely even time to grieve. How will Suter’s decision to sign with the Minnesota Wild affect his decision? Will he want to sign a one-year contract extension with the Predators and then hit UFA? Should the Predators look to move Weber now?

With the uncertainty of the parameters surrounding the next CBA, one has to wonder whether Weber’s camp will want to pursue a sign-and-trade now. If owners and management move to prevent the kind of long-term contracts that Zach Parise and Suter just signed and are designed to manipulate the average annual value of the contract to a more manageable number, perhaps it’d be in Weber’s interest to maximize his earnings and sign that long-term contract this offseason; especially now that his stalwart defensive partner has moved on.

The ramifications from Rick Nash’s trade request are familiar here to Senators fans. In fact, the whole Nash to Ottawa situation has been odd from the get go.

Despite acknowledgement that Ottawa was never on the list of teams that Nash would be willing to move his no-movement clause for, the Blue Jackets got deeper into talks with the Senators than any other club. Now maybe it’s just me, but before even getting involved in negotiations of a nature in which a player has control where he goes, wouldn’t it be in management’s best interests talk to the agent or seek permission to talk to player before getting “deeper into talks”?

At the very least, it would have saved Bryan Murray time to explore other options and would spare us from this wait-and-see/Plan B process in which Rick Nash may eventually decide to expand his shortlist to include Ottawa. Unfortunately, this process culminated in another one of Melnyk’s letters to the media — that Scott ***satirically*** mocked in a post yesterday (appears some of you don’t know Dan Gilbert).

“Yes, we want to make our team better — always — but never with a player unless we are on the ‘A’ list,” Melnyk wrote late Tuesday. “I believe, and I think our fans would echo this, it is a privilege to play in Ottawa.

“You want more money? A bigger car or house? Lots of other teams will spend like idiots. We are a true TEAM with REAL special and smart fans. I don’t care who you are, you have to WANT to play in Ottawa. That’s what defines us.”

The organization does have smart fans – the same ones who will question why the hell the organization was deeper than any other team in negotiations for a player who they knew didn’t actually want to play here in the first place.

But as Don Brennan wrote about Nash on his Off the Posts blog, the list could change!

“It was believed from the beginning that the Senators weren’t on Nash’s original list, but then a little birdie told us he had talked to the sniper himself, and that could very well change. Ultimately, it didn’t, and you have to wonder why.”

I’ll leave it to the columnists and the owner to defend this city as a great place to play hockey, but instead of wondering why, we should be counting our blessings. Rather than forking over a number of highly regarded prospects to Columbus for a player whose production will likely wane and fail to measure up to his contract, the Senators have an opportunity to put those assets – assets that Tim Murray acknowledged that the organization would not hesitate to trade if the organization could get a superior player — to greater use…by kicking the tires on a potential Weber trade. (The article comes full circle!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Obviously the caveat to such a deal would be that a contract extension would have to be agreed upon before the trade is formally consummated. For an organization that kicked the tires on Nash, it’s safe to assume that they’ll do their due diligence on Weber as well. There’s no question that the organization has the pieces to make such a trade. The only questions that matter are: would Weber want out of Nashville so that he could sign an extension and play in Ottawa?

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