Thursday, July 5, 2012

Why the Sharks Need Rick Nash

Rick Nash Canada Joe Thornton
The San Jose Sharks are at a crossroads.

After making back-to-back Western Conference Finals in 2010 and 2011, the Sharks were ousted in the first round this season by the St. Louis Blues, a younger, faster, and hungrier squad. The Sharks squeaked out a 3-2 win in double overtime in Game 1, but lost the next four straight. Overnight, it looked like San Jose’s window to contend slammed shut.

That’s why more than any other team, the Sharks need to trade for Rick Nash.

The New York Rangers, who will likely be starved for goals as Marian Gaborik misses the first few months of the season with injury, need Nash’s offense more than the Sharks. But the Sharks have an older roster, and as they age their ability to contend diminishes. Acquiring Nash will put them back among the league’s elite, and give their core one last shot at bringing a championship to San Jose.

The three players who have led San Jose since the lockout—Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, and Patrick Marleau—are on the wrong side of 30. Although all three are still quality players, both Marleau and Boyle have seen their point totals decline over the last three seasons and seemed completely overmatched by a younger Blues team in the playoffs. All three are in the decline phase of their career, and although still capable of making worthy contributions, they are not going to get any better than they are now, which hasn’t been good enough to win a championship.

Plus, due to the salary cap, this team, as currently constructed, has two years left to win. After that Thornton, Boyle, and Marleau become free agents and management will have to give raises to both Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture.

Unfortunately, making minor tweaks and largely sticking with the status quo for the next two years does not help the Sharks get any closer to contention. That strategy relies too heavily on Martin Havlat playing a full season, Brent Burns and Logan Couture taking huge leaps forward, and Patrick Marleau having a renaissance season. Those are way too many variables that must break right for the Sharks to have a real chance at a title.

So the question for the Sharks isn’t whether or not to make drastic changes; it’s whether to give this core another shot or give that shot to an entirely different core. With various NTCs/NMCs for Thornton, Marleau, Boyle, and Havlat, the current core isn’t likely to change, so the question becomes how to supplement this group, giving them the best chance to succeed.

The answer is simple: Trade for Nash. Aggressively adding Nash now gives Thornton a superstar winger who can hit 30-40 goals and transforms the Sharks back into the powerhouse team they once were.

For all his flaws, Nash is still an elite goal-scorer. He’s big, fast, and skilled—the perfect complement to the Sharks roster. More importantly, he won’t have to be the ‘go-to-guy’ in San Jose like he was in Columbus, and instead can ride shotgun with Thornton, the playmaking centre of his dreams.

Darren Dreger of TSN has reported that including Couture in talks for Nash is a non-starter, which is the right move considering the Sharks will slowly become Couture’s team in the coming years. But the Sharks should be open to dealing almost anyone else on the roster or the farm system.

The team’s prospect pool has been in the bottom-third of the league for years thanks to trades intended to benefit the big club, so making one more trade for Nash, even if it means strip mining the farm team, won’t put the Sharks in any worse position than they already have been for a few years. Holding onto any prospects now isn’t going to help the Sharks for at least two or three years, and by that time it will be too late.

Plus, trading the farm for Nash isn’t a short-term fix for the Sharks. He’s young enough at 28 that he can still form a solid group with Couture and Burns if and when the current core is replaced.

It’s extremely difficult to create a perennial contender in the NHL, and before last season the Sharks strung together six years as a team capable of winning it all. To keep that window open the Sharks must act now, or else risk wasting the remaining years they have Thornton, Marleau, and Boyle.


Anonymous said...

Or Bobby Ryan. But, yeah, they need something

Anonymous said...

How much better do you think Nash is than Joe Pavelski? It seems any trade will involve Pavelski.

Similar goal totals, but Pavelski is incredibly adept at defense. Not saying Nash is terrible at defense, but Pavelski is definitely better. The amount of extra goals allowed with Pavelski gone will barely, if at all, be made up with Nash playing along his "dream playmaking center". I'd consider the points department a draw. However, Nash carries a cap hit twice that of Pavelski's and Pavelski seems to provide incredible locker room chemistry.

Though it would be great to have Nash, the cost is too prohibitive.

Anonymous said...

I agree, you can't lose Pavs to get Nash. They're at about the same age, same point total, only Pavs plays better defense for less money.

Anonymous said...

And to add to the issues of trading Pavs for Nash, the Sharks just signed Pav's Badger best bud Burish, expecting their collective chemistry to pay off.

Anonymous said...

I've been following the team since '99 and they've gone out and gotten Selanne and Heatley and it didn't pay off so adding Nash would convince me of nothing. The NHL is so even these days that it comes down to peaking at the right time, avoiding injuries, and a little luck. So I've basically just qualified half the league as cup contenders but that's the way it is. It would be nice to see the Sharks hit the playoffs with gas left in the tank but after that, it's all chaos.

Anonymous said...

Clowe,Murray and one of their prospect goalies other than Stalock...Clowe has hands of cement, and skates as if in sand. Bring Nash.

Anonymous said...

There is no way Nash ends up in SJ without Couture or Pavelski coming back in trade. Period. End of story.

If he does, SJ won't have a 1st round pick for at least 3 yrs...

Clowe is a great player but is probably 2 yrs older than he needs to prove valuable in a trade...

Anonymous said...

hey columbus : pick any 2 for nash or 3 for nash and a 2nd

any 4th liner

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