Most everyone knows at this point about the contract offer sent by Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson to all-star captain Rick Nash. Most also know, thanks to our friends at the Columbus Dispatch, that Nash was extremely vocal in dismissing the offer, suggesting that the going rate for a player of his caliber was substantially higher, and that if the offer was not adjusted to a reasonable number, he would have no issues heading to free agency next summer.
Let me begin my response by saying, simply, bad move Rick.
The first issue that arises here is his intent to vocally belittle Blue Jackets management. I do not be they would come to the table with anything less than a reasonable number, as they suggested their main off season priority was signing Nash. There are appropriate ways to interact with a hockey club as that team’s captain, and I believe we saw signs of adam foote in the way Rick acted Wednesday night. He is not, nor will he ever be bigger than the team, and he needs to fully take that into account.
The second issue I have with his argument, is his source. He is citing free agent signings that many fans are laughing at. Gross overpayments are running rampant in the NHL, and Nash needs to understand that if he wants to play for a competitive hockey team, his salary must be comparable to those players who choose team over max dollar. He can quote at least four contracts handed out on Wednesday that could value him in the 8-9 million dollar range, but frankly, that is only one side of it.
Consider the contracts of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, the Sedin twins, Mike Richards, and Ilya Kovalchuk. These players are worth substantially higher contracts by “Free Agent Market Standards” but in reality, they remained with their original team at a contract that allows their team to sign other players and remain competitive. The numbers of these palyers are easily comparable to Nash’s, and their contracts do not exceed 6-7 million per year. If Howson is smart, he will offer Nash a lengthy contract somewhere in this range of 6-7 million, and hope Nash uses some common sense when responding for the second time.
My final issue is regarding where the team is headed. Not only do the Jackets have to worry about RFA contracts of some of their best young talent over the next two years, they have to make sure the holes are filled around them. Nash is their best player at the current moment, but that could quickly change with development of players like Brassard, Voracek, and Filatov. Nash may believe he was the teams saving grace over the past 6 years, but frankly, things are changing quickly.