a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Sunday, 4 March 2012

03/04/12 Rick Nash and the Implications for Edmonton

Even if Rick Nash wanted to come to Edmonton (he doesn't), the Oilers don't need to trade for him. However, if the Nash trade does happen before the NHL Draft, there will be meaning for the Edmonton Oilers in the long term. A trade involving the superstar right winger will set the value of such a player across the NHL.

It has come out into the open that the Oilers want to add at least one "top end" defenseman before next season, and according to Darren Dreger that will most likely come about via trade. It's hard to argue with a man as plugged in as Dreger, so now the question remains: what would the Oilers have to offer for such a player? That's easy. Considering their current position, the Oilers will be picking at the top of the draft, where two elite forwards are available.

Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko are not proven NHL scorers, as Nash is, but they are highly regarded enough to fetch a massive price on the market. When Nash is traded we'll have some idea of how much those two could be worth. Elliotte Friedman reported in his 30 thoughts that the Blue Jackets rejected an enormous offer from the New York Ranger for Nash: Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon, Christian Thomas, J.T. Miller and a first round pick.

A little history:

Tim Erixon is a former first round pick by Calgary, who refused to sign there and was subsequently traded to New York. Christian Thomas is a former second round pick (40th overall) who followed up his 41 goal sophomore season in the OHL with a 54 goal campaign last year. Miller was New York's first round pick in 2011, going 15th overall. Hockey's Future has those three listed as the Rangers' second, third and fourth best prospects behind only Chris Kreider. Them, plus Dubinsky and a first round pick is a huge price.

The Rangers didn't want to tinker too much with their team chemistry, so they didn't add enough proven NHL scoring in this offer, and Scott Howson turned it down. When the season ends there will be 29 teams that didn't win the Stanley Cup, and trading proven NHL players will become more palatable. That's when Nash will be moved, and when the Oilers could also add to their roster. Happily, the Jackets want to add scoring in exchange for Nash, which won't tamper with the defensive market that the Oilers will be dipping into.

In fact, it may make it easier for the Oilers to find a trade, as teams will be more apt to part with defense in exchange for scoring. Even a pick as high as second overall may not fetch the bounty that Nash will, but it would be valuable enough to vastly improve the defense in Edmonton. If a team overpays for Nash, it will only improve the Oilers' bargaining position.

The Oilers always have the option of using their first round pick on a defense prospect like Ryan Murray, Griffin Reinhart or Matt Dumba, or testing the free agent market to improve the defense. But if they want to add a proven NHL player via trade, Rick Nash will have an effect on the market that may be good for Edmonton.

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