This morning, the hockey Twittersphere exploded with news that Rick Nash, the face (if not the heart and soul) of the Columbus Blue Jackets, could be moved if the price is right. Though a bit shocking on the surface, trading Nash would be a sensible move for GM Scott Howson, given the unmitigated disaster that is the Blue Jackets’ 2011-2012 season. In fact, given the magnitude of the problem in Columbus, trading Nash is but one piece of the puzzle. If I were Howson, here’s how I’d make lemonade out of lemons:
- Send Nash to the New York Rangers for Brandon Dubinsky, Wojtek Wolski, a prospect (preferably D-man Tim Erixon) and the Rangers’ 2012 1st round pick.
- Trade The Jeff Carter Experiment, along with goalie Curtis Sanford and the Blue Jackets’ 2012 2nd round pick, to Vancouver for Ryan Kesler and Cory Schneider. Columbus needs to build from the crease out, and sadly, Steve Mason isn’t the answer. Schneider is ready to be a starter in the NHL.
- Deal Sammy Pahlsson for whatever you can get (a draft pick or two).
- Ditto for Antoine Vermette.
- If you can’t find any takers for Steve Mason, waive him. Still no takers for his $2.9mil cap hit? He spends next season in Springfield, where he will (hopefully) find his mojo.
- In the offseason, let the following Free Agents walk: Kristian Huselius, Radek Martinek, Brett Lebda, Aaron Johnson.
- Last, but certainly not least, hire the best head coach available. Randy Carlyle comes to mind.
In addition to making the aforementioned changes, prepare to play the kids next season, letting them grow into their roles. Give Derek Dorsett the “C” – he’s earned it. If Scott Howson can pull off the above moves, the 2012-2013 Columbus Blue Jackets should look something like this:
R.J. Umberger – Ryan Kesler – Ryan Johansen
Brandon Dubinsky – Derick Brassard – Cam Atkinson
Wojtek Wolski – Vinny Prospal – Derek Dorsett
Mark Letestu- Derek MacKenzie- Jared Boll
John Moore – Fedor Tyutin
James Wisniewski – Marc Methot
Nikita Nikitin – Tim Erixon
If – and that’s a HUGE “if” – Scott Howson can ice a lineup somewhere in the neighborhood of that (with Nail Yakupov growing his game for another year in the CHL), the future of the Blue Jackets could be bright, indeed.