Only a few days remain on the calendar before the clock strikes 3 p.m. on Monday afternoon and no more trades can be made within the National Hockey League until after the 2011-12 season is over and done with. That means GM Glen Sather, who has been in hot pursuit of Columbus Blue Jackets star forward Rick Nash for two weeks now, is running low on time to improve his team's recently slumping offense. Will Slats allow the roster that has climbed to first place in the Eastern Conference work its own problems out, or will he provide an instant boost and at the same time ignore any future salary-cap conflicts bringing in another big contract will induce? This weekend's back-to-back against the Islanders and Sabres could be the deciding factor.
Columbus GM Scott Howson's original asking price for Nash was astronomical; Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan McDonagh/Michael Del Zotto, Chris Kreider and a first round draft pick. However, as I assumed right here on this blog, Sather proclaimed every player on that list, except for Dubinsky, to be untouchable. That led Glen to come up with a counter offer of his own, which according to Larry Brooks in the New York Post, looks like this...
It is believed that Sather, who is not fazed by the ramifications of adding Nash’s contract that runs through 2017-18 at a cap hit of $7.8 million per year, is prepared to send Brandon Dubinsky, Christian Thomas, and perhaps 2010 first-rounder Dylan McIlrath plus a first round pick to Columbus in order to bring the 6-foot-4, 220-pound, nine-year veteran to Broadway.
Brooks also went on to say in his article that Sather was unwilling to trade Swedish prospect defenseman Tim Erixon, who Howson seemed to express serious interest in.
Now I am still on the fence about this whole Nash thing because of how it will potentially jeopardize the future of the core of this team. However, here's my problem with Sather's counter offer: why would he be willing to trade Dylan McIlrath instead of Tim Erixon?
I know, that may sound crazy at first, but allow me to explain. Erixon is an offensive-minded defenseman just as Michael Del Zotto is, and we've already established that Michael is not going anywhere. On the other hand, Dylan McIlrath is a gritty blue-liner, who the Rangers went out of their way to draft in the first round I might add, that will definitely fit the personality of this hockey club quite well.
And I hate to say it, but Michael Sauer's future is in question right now, and McIlrath would be the best option to fill his spot. There's no doubting that the kid will be an absolute beast in the NHL - the opposition will hate to play against him.
As of now, if I'm Scott Howson, I don't give in to that offer the way it stands. I would rather hold on to Nash and open up the negotiation doors again after the season is over. But if Sather swaps McIlrath with Erixon in that counter offer, then they may have a deal.
Depending on how the Rangers answer this Friday on Long Island and then back at MSG on Saturday, we may see Sather get desperate and pull that exact stunt. There's no getting around the fact that the Rangers have struggled offensively as of late and that Nash would be an instant fix.
This should be a very interesting next few days, that's for sure.