July 23, 2012
Nash trade bodes ill for return on Iginla
By RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
So, Calgary Flames fans, what did you learn from Monday's Rick Nash trade?
(OK, other than how karma works in that Tim Erixon went from rebuffing Calgary a year ago to force a trade to the New York Rangers, but now has ended up with the perennially awful Columbus Blue Jackets.)
One lesson comes back to Jarome Iginla.
The Blue Jackets were in a no-win situation trying to trade Nash, their lone star. He would only go to select teams thanks to his no-trade clause, but getting Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Erixon and a 2013 first-round pick for Nash, minor-league defenceman Steve Delisle and a conditional third-round pick is no home run.
The Blue Jackets need legitimate NHL players, and this deal gives them a couple of them right now and maybe two more in the future, but none of them will have opposing teams quaking in their boots.
No NHL coach will ever go into a game saying, 'Boy, we have to shut down Anisimov to have a chance.'
Now, picture what the Flames will get for Iginla should they opt to trade the face of the franchise.
Sure, Iginla has been a far better player than Nash through his career, but when you think where they are today, the value can't be much higher, if at all.
Nash, whose play this past season was a textbook example of indifference, is still only 28 years old. His contract -- six more seasons at US$7.8 million -- is high for his production. Should he get back to being a 40-goal scorer -- his chances on a line with Brad Richards help -- won't be so far out of whack.
Iginla turned 35 this summer, and is undoubtedly on the other side of the mountain. To his credit, Iginla's fitness today is probably still better than Nash's, but you can't erase the clicks on the odometer. Throw in the fact Iginla is due to be an unrestricted free-agent after the coming season, no GM is going to fork over a future star unless he's signed to a contract extension, and even that may not matter very much.
But the Nash deal is also good news for the Flames and their middling playoff hopes.
The Blue Jackets are no playoff contender, but without Nash, Columbus may actually be a play the Flames can win.
Calgary has a dismal 7-14-1 record in Ohio, and Nash has victimized the Flames on many occasions.
That's the difference a game-breaker can make. Unless the Blue Jackets make a blockbuster trade -- they have three first-round picks in the 2013 draft and Erixon has 27 other organizations to go through before his career ends -- they won't have another who can put fear in opposition goalies.
Yes, this is good news for the Flames during an off-season they must be enjoying.
When the next season starts -- and let's hope the stewards of the NHL get their act together for a new collective bargaining agreement in time -- the Flames will again be where they were the last few years.
They'll be in the muck of clubs battling for the last few playoff spots.
That collection of teams in that boat has grown this summer.
Right now, the Western Conference has only a few sure-fire playoff teams: Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Jose, St. Louis and Chicago.
Detroit and Nashville -- especially when the dust settles with Shea Weber -- are weaker. Same for the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Flames, their three other Northwest Division rivals, Minnesota, Edmonton and Colorado, are in the territory of maybe-in, maybe-out, just like Anaheim and Dallas.
Parity will be at an all-time high, and that may bode well for the Flames.
They have to take the positives anywhere they can get them.
On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak