It's a pre-deadline Mailbag, otherwise known as the "Let's Spin the Roulette Wheel and Guess Where Rick Nash is Going Mailbag." Really, is there any other suspense left this year?
Let's just hope, for the sake of the dozens of outlets that depend on the deadline for a boost in their audiences, that Nash isn't dealt by the Columbus Blue Jackets before Monday. If so, the men in Windsor-knotted ties will be left to debate questions such as "Calgary Flames with a fourth-round choice in 2013 for XYZ fourth-liner. Who won?"
The paradox of the trade deadline is: it's never been bigger in the media, but it used to be a lot more exciting. When there was no salary cap, it was akin to someone just taking a million dollars in small bills and tossing it in the air, then watching people scratch and claw each other for the bounty. The poor, out-of-contention teams would just hold open auctions for the rich clubs. It was the hockey version of Sotheby's.
All those great old trade deadlines built things up to the point that the media made it, as SI colleague Michael Farber well put it, an unofficial Canadian holiday. But then the salary cap happened, and, really, we only get one or two huge deals a year now.
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That leaves Nash as the last big chip for Columbus to play, but lots of questions as to where he will end up -- if anywhere.
I've gotten a ton of "Where is Rick Nash going?" questions in my in-box during the last couple of weeks, but can only choose one to answer, so let's give this one the honors:
Why would a team like ours trade off the only guy who has been a big scorer for them over the years? It seems like they only are doing this deal because of some kind of outside pressure, when really, what are they going to get that's better than him? We need some common sense here in Ohio! -- John, Cleveland
I can go both ways on this, John, which is why I can always claim to be right later on. It's a gift. So if I'm arguing for the "Trade Nash" camp, I say something like: the guy has never made anyone else around him better. He's never very good defensively. He's a one-dimensional player. Isn't making others around you what separates the great players from just the talented ones?
If I'm arguing against, I say: Are you crazy? Nash has been the only big gun that team has had during the last 10 years! Scoring 40 goals for it was like scoring 80 on a good one. Trade him, and this is "Ron Francis from Hartford to Pittsburgh, Part Deux (or, Duh)."
I don't know, I'm torn. I'm not sure which side I feel more passionate about. Nash does have rare talent, but he's been in Columbus quite a while now and the Jackets have ZERO playoff wins in all that time. You can definitely make the case that it's time to move on, for both sides.
And yet, giving up a guy like him is RISKY.
I enjoyed reading your Power Rankings this week, it's always good to have some entertainment during classes. What do you think the realistic chances are that the Devils will be able to re-sign Zach Parise?
He is the most important player to the team by far, and will command a lot of money, as he deserves. I hope they don't trade him before the deadline and I don't think they will with the team in the heart of the playoff race, but if they can't sign him, wouldn't it make more sense to get something in return for him? Thanks for any insight. --- Martin, Matawan, N.J.
Martin, first off, I am ALWAYS happy to help another American college student goof off during classes that you and your parents are paying thousands of dollars to attend. It's another of my gifts.
You know what the most amazing part of this deadline has been? That we haven't heard a word about Parise being shopped anywhere. The guy can become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He may very well leave New Jersey for nothing. And yet, it has somehow been assumed that Parise is off-limits to every other team.
We'll take the reports out of New Jersey -- that Parise won't be traded -- at their word. But, boy, it's a real risk letting a guy like him get one day closer to free agency with every passing moon. You just can't let a guy like him go for nothing. I can tell you this: if the Devils can't come to an agreement with Parise by July 1, a whole heck of a lot of teams will be lining up at his door ready to throw lots of money at him. You can start with a certain team from Michigan that wears a Winged Wheel on its chest.
If Parise is available July 1, I will bet right now that he's a Red Wing soon after.
You know what's even more impressive than the Red Wings' home winning streak? The fact that you have a team with a .500 road record on top of your Power Rankings. Seriously? -- Andrew, New York, NY
Love ya, Blueshirt fans, but I still can't put them at No. 1 in the rankings. They were there for a week, but I hated myself for doing it. I need to see more scoring from them. And it just so happens that a guy from Columbus is available who might help make goals easier to come by.
Getting shut out in Pittsburgh, 2-0, over the weekend was just one game, and I'm worshipping in the pews of the Tortorella Cathedral as much as anyone, due to the job he's done with that team this season. I think he's a great coach and I love his attitude. It is my dream in life to be told off just once by him during a press conference.
But that game sort of reinforced to me what I feel is the Rangers' problem going forward: not quite enough juice up front offensively, too reliant on Henrik Lundqvist overall. And Brad Richards makes me a little nervous. He's got 40 points through his first 58 games. Respectable enough numbers, but not quite what you'd expect from a two-time 91-point guy who got another huge contract last summer. He needs one more big forward to play with. Did I mention that Rick Nash is still available?
We Panthers fans here in Flordia are a suffering bunch. A LOOONG playoff drought. But why can't this team get more talk from the national media? It is (late) February and they are, in fact, in first place! How about some media attention on our cats (or rats, if you remember back to 1996)! -- David, North Miami Beach, Fla.
I remember the rats very well, David. I got hit by several at the old Miami Arena while covering the '96 Cup final for The Denver Post. I can't believe I never grabbed a few as souvenirs. Are you kidding me, I could get good money for those on eBay!
First off, you of course read my SI.com profile of the Panthers from a few weeks ago, right? In that piece, I detailed how they are in the hunt for a division title, and analyzed their chances for the stretch run. But the reason the Panthers can't get more ink is because they keep blowing chances to pull away in the Southeast Division. In fact, the Winnipeg Jets took the lead with a win on Thursday night, and are one point ahead of the Cats as of this writing. Florida is now in eighth place in the East, one point ahead of Toronto. They keep losing games they shouldn't -- like a shootout to Minnesota on Thursday. They are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games.
Bottom line, David: you gotta win to get the pub. But the good news for you and other Panthers fans: they still had FOUR games in hand over Winnipeg entering Friday.
Been in the mid-seventies for weeks down here in Lower Alabama... God Bless the South. Speakin' of the South... how do you think the hockey world would respond to Preds bringing Lord Stanley's Cup to Tennessee? Awkward as it sounds... the Preds appear to have a lot more answers than questions...and this year's edition looks built for playoff hockey. Peks is a beast. -- Nate, Bay Minette, Ala.
Pekka Rinne is, if not a beast, a very good goalie, Nate. Agreed. If I'm a Preds fan, I'm feeling real good about my top three defense of Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and the newly acquired Hal Gill -- all backed up by Rinne.
But if I'm a Preds fan, I'm also still worried that I don't have enough offense. The Preds have to work really hard for goals. They're sort of the Rangers of the West. I really like this team overall, but the same kinds of issues from previous years seem to be there as the playoffs loom.
Nashville is one of those teams where you're always saying, "If they only had an offense to match the defense..." That said, you don't need to score six goals a night in the playoffs to win. This team can do it -- but it does need to get more help at the offensive end.
Keep those letters coming....