If the NHL is able to lower the salary cap under a new collective bargaining agreement, which it is drastically looking to do, then it will alter how many teams are able to construct their teams going forward. Free agency will look quite different in the upcoming seasons whenever the new agreement is implemented, but it could also affect how teams pursue current players via trades right now. Most notably, the Rick Nash trade sweepstakes may be narrowed down to just two teams, the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers.
Both the Red Wings and Rangers are on the list of approved teams to which the Columbus Blue Jackets can trade Nash as of now. The other four teams on the list are the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks. But making matters even more difficult is that not only are the Blue Jackets looking for an elite package in return for Nash, whatever team acquires the talented forward will have to absorb his contract and a $7.8 cap hit for the next six seasons.
While that already seems challenging right now, things will only get worse once a new salary cap is put into place, with all signs pointing toward it becoming much lower. And teams such as the Sharks and Bruins are already unwilling to part with top prospects as well as taking on Nash’s large salary, while the Flyers and Penguins may not be fully able to absorb such a hit already, and they almost certainly would be unable to make a trade after a new agreement is reached with a much more owner friendly cap.
With that being said, that means we could be down to two teams who could still pursue a deal for Nash, and that also means that the Blue Jackets would lose a bit of leverage in terms of having to finally possibly lower their high asking price.
After all, how much can you ask for if only two teams are involved in the bidding, and even then, will they be as keen on acquiring a player with a huge cap hit such as Nash? Add in the fact that Nash could hold out if he is not traded to one of those six teams, then Columbus needs to be prepared to accept much less for one of their top offensive players.
Especially once you consider that only the Red Wings ($16.8 million) and the Rangers ($15.1 million) have space available right now, but that will change once the cap is no longer based on a space of $70.3 million. If that number is dropped, say perhaps even up to $10 million, what will happen at that point?
The Blue Jackets may want to expedite this entire trade process now, because it is only going to get a lot harder down the road.