July 24, 2012
Senators can look elsewhere after Rangers land Jackets star
By BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - Rick Nash chose Broadway over Bytown.
The Senators’ offer of goalie Robin Lehner, winger Nick Foligno, prospect Mika Zibanejad and a draft pick is considered superior to what the Columbus Blue Jackets settled for Monday, but Nash didn’t want to come here.
While Columbus GM Scott Howson wasn’t able to get a top-6 forward by acquiring Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, blueliner Tim Erixon and a first-round pick from the New York Rangers, the belief is the Jackets didn’t want this to drag on any longer.
The Jackets could have had winger Joe Pavelski from the San Jose Sharks, but clearly didn’t want to trade Nash to another Western Conference team, which is why Howson engaged in talks with Senators GM Bryan Murray in the first place.
The reality is the Senators wanted Nash and his $7.8-million cap hit to play on a line with Jason Spezza. Now that the two-time 40-goal scorer is off the market, the club will continue its search for a top-6 forward.
Nash would have been a good fit here, but his list didn’t include the Senators, Maple Leafs or any Canadian team. He wanted to go to places like Boston, San Jose, Philadelphia and, first and foremost, New York.
The good news is this allows the Senators to go in another direction and it’s believed the organization is discussing that possibility.
The Senators have the assets to make a deal. The only top-6 forward left on the free-agent market is Alexander Semin and it would seem the Senators already went down that road with Alexei Kovalev.
A trade is the most likely scenario. No, the Senators aren’t down on Zibanejad, but they didn’t get the development they wanted last season. If they’re going to get a high-scoring winger, they’ll have to give up something.
There isn’t a lot available on the trade market. It’s believed Murray has held talks with the Anaheim Ducks about winger Bobby Ryan. Several teams are in hot pursuit and the asking price is expected to be high.
The Dallas Stars might be willing to move veteran Brenden Morrow, whose role could take a hit after the club signed free agents Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr. There may no longer be a spot for Morrow on the top two lines.
Before Murray makes a move, he’d like to get confirmation from captain Daniel Alfredsson on what’s next. The super Swede has indicated he’s planning to come back and sources say the two sides are working on a one-year extension.
The Senators have 13 forwards on one-way contracts. They have tried — without success — to deal winger Bobby Butler. A decision will have to be made in the next few days as to whether they’ll exercise a short window to buy him out.
Not getting Nash isn’t the worst news for Ottawa. He has just four games of playoff experience in his career with the Jackets and didn’t score any goals. He’ll find out what pressure is when he’s surrounded by media in New York.
Acquiring Nash would have meant Ottawa had shifted the re-tooling into high gear. The Senators turned their attention elsewhere because owner Eugene Melnyk noted earlier this month he doesn’t want players who don’t want to be here.
Nash may have chosen to take his act to the Rangers, but that’s just fine with the Senators. They still have the ability to make a trade and plenty of salary cap room if they can find the right fit.