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The first (and hopefully last) post about the Nash trade before this nonsense actually goes down.

We’re in the second silly season, the time leading up to the NHL Entry Draft and the Free Agent Frenzy. For Blue Jacket fans, there’s a bit of added stress: the actual draft pick, the rebuild (or reshape?) required after a last place finish, and the remains of the loudest topic at the previous trade deadline: Rick Nash. Let’s not get into the details surrounding the trade or the possibility of John Davidson actually keeping Nash in Columbus (admittedly something I’d support). Instead, let’s look at some of the loudest recent Nash trade “rumor” talk.

When considering these rumors, let’s try to keep track of three things. A) Is the rumor coming from Aaron Portzline (or similar beat writers for the corresponding trade partner), or the TSN people (Dreger and McKenzie)? If it’s not, that’s a tough sell for anyone to believe. B) Is an anonymous “insider” giving you all the details? If that’s you’re main source, they’re outright wrong, no questions asked (and you could be one too!). And the big question, the one you should probably ask yourself, C) Does it make sense?

About that last one: does the trade make sense? Give the deal the sniff test. Would either team have any interest in picking up the pieces involved? Don’t even worry about cap space, just think on a basic level: do they need what that guy does? Particularly, if you’re talking about Rick Nash, does the team involved need more offense? Let’s put these three concepts to use in testing two recent Nash rumors.

File:Philadelphia Flyers.svgRick Nash to the Philadelphia Flyers. A variety of rumors are flying around involving all kinds of strange returns including (but not limited to) James van Riemsdyk, Sean Couterier, and Brayden Schenn. Some even seem to indicate the Blue Jackets moving their 2nd overall pick or Jack Johnson for something out of Philly. For right now, let’s not even consider the particular permutations of possible swaps here or the salary cap problems (a very possible problem for the Flyers taking in Nash’s large salary). Instead, let’s send these “rumors” through the three step test.

A) The only noteworthy comment from Portzline is the following comment about van Riemsdyk’s injury and possible moves

That’s not an overly helpful statement. Let’s try the TSN guys: nothing from Bob McKenzie, some brief comments about JVR from Darren Dreger. What about one of the other rumor sources? Let’s hear from a sports guy on NBC in Philly.

Again, mostly speculation and nothing definitive. It’s hard to say that we should run with this and yell it on the mountain. Combine that with Portzline’s quasi-denial and no news out of the TSN sources and this rumor doesn’t have very strong legs.

B) How about those “insiders?” More than a few people are using this as a source:

Please, I beg you, block this guy. Nothing he says is accurate and his style fits the On the Forecheck descriptor of a terrible fake insider perfectly (he was one of the examples, after all). So if you’re using this as a real source or spreading this rumors you’re not helping and you’re wrong. Don’t add to the sensationalism and lies.

C) Does it make sense for the Flyers to go after Rick Nash? Ignoring cap problems, the exact trade specifics, and Nash’s preferences in the deal (he’s the one with the no movement clause), do the Flyers need somebody like Rick Nash? The answer is an overwhelming no. The Philadelphia Flyers are completely loaded with productive NHL wingers and talented young forwards. In addition, the Flyers were the second best offense in the NHL last season. Their loss in the second round of the playoffs was not due to scoring either. Instead, if anything, the Flyers need to shore up their defense (2nd worst in the playoffs, 20th out of 30 teams in the regular season), or their goaltending (a savior Bryzgalov was not).

Let’s review: is Rick Nash a defenseman? Is Rick Nash a goalie? Are the Flyers in need of more scoring? The answer to all of these is a resounding “no” and so Nash to the Flyers doesn’t make any sense (barring Paul Holmgren losing his damn mind again).

File:Toronto Maple Leafs logo.svgRick Nash to the Toronto Maple Leafs. This particular trade talk isn’t quite as active as the Flyers comments, but it has been a popular discussion point for years. Nash is from Brampton, and played for the London Knights so the idea of the player making a “homecoming” to the Toronto area is often romanticized and translated into quite vociferous Twitter talk. Trade “details” are all over the place (yet another sign of something without substance), and sometimes involve draft picks, Nazem Kadri, or other players going to the Jackets.

A) Nobody’s talking about this. Seriously. It’s only Nash fanatics who think he somehow “belongs” in Toronto.

B) I’m sure some “insider” has discussed this in prior years. Don’t be shocked if it comes up again, and be sure to not believe them.

C) For similar reasons to Philadelphia, this trade can’t even begin to pass the sniff test. Despite a poor finish (25th in points), there is one area that Toronto doesn’t need to upgrade: their offense. Thanks to impressive performances of Lupul, Grabovski, and (most of all) Phil Kessel, the Leafs were the 10th best scoring team in the NHL. Combine that with some impressive puck possession information, and Toronto is a team that doesn’t desperately need high-end forward talent.

So what’s the problem in Toronto? A horrendous team defense (2nd worst in the NHL goals against) that stems from a shallow defensive core (although not nearly as bad as suggested), a terrible penalty kill (3rd worst), and laughable goaltending (2nd worst in the NHL). That goalie problem exacerbates all the other defensive concerns to a frightening level. Primary starter Jonas Gustavsson had an even strength save percentage of only .904. That makes even Steve Mason’s numbers look impressive.

So let’s ask the question again: is Rick Nash a goalie? Is he some kind of defensive magician who can limit shots against the Leafs? The answer to both of these is “no” and so Nash to Toronto makes no sense.

And one last note: remember hearing some “Nash for Kessel straight up” talk? Right now that sounds like an absolute steal… for the Blue Jackets. Or at least it is using current trends.

Unlike in past years, Rick Nash came out with a negative Corsi and Kessel was positive (albeit with Nash facing a tougher quality of competition). And if Nash is being brought in for his “better” scoring ability, that’s not the right reason. Kessel’s net goal production is on par with Nash’s for each of the past four years. Nash wouldn’t be a big upgrade in his best years, Nash is on a downward trajectory, and Kessel is just coming off his first 80+ point season (something Nash has never done). Right now, Nash-for-Kessel could only happen if the Blue Jackets were willing to pay more than just Nash.