Why the Chicago Blackhawks should sign Rick Nash

(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Blackhawks may not be done in free agency. Rick Nash makes a lot of sense.

The Chicago Blackhawks made a big move last week by moving Marian Hossa’s contract along with Vinny Hinostroza to the Arizona Coyotes. The move was made to create cap space for the Blackhawks, who have not had room to maneuver under the cap lid in a long while.

However, in many fans’ eyes, the move was made too late in the offseason to prove any significance because most of the impact free agents have already signed their deals with new teams and all that is left are the bottom tier free agents.

This leads many fans to believe that the best avenue for the Blackhawks to use their cap space is to trade for an impact player on a one year contract that will not affect the Blackhawks’ long-term cap situation, but will help immediately this year.

Must Read: Blackhawks: Understanding the Hossa trade

This is the reason for all of the recent discussion about Max Pacioretty, Jeff Skinner, and even Artemi Panarin. However, the Blackhawks would have to give up at least one major prospect plus a first-round pick in next year’s draft to acquire any one of these players. Even then, there is no guarantee you can sign them back and keep Nick Schmaltz. So, as excited as fans would be about adding a player of that caliber, we all need to pump the breaks and realize the implications and who we would have to give up.

This is why I believe signing an aging, but still productive free agent, is a better option than those trades. Insert former Boston Bruins and New York Rangers left wing Rick Nash. Nash finished last year for the Bruins after playing his whole career with the Rangers. Nash’s stats dropped off a tad last year from previous years, although he still had 21 goals.  Nash played big minutes in the playoffs for the Bruins as well, proving he can still be effective in a top-6 roll with a good team.

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For this reason, I believe Nash would be the best possible fit for the Blackhawks. The biggest question on offense heading into this year for the Blackhawks seems to be who will play left wing on the second line with Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz.

The first line seems to be set with Jonathon Toews, Brandon Saad and Alex Debrincat. Coach Joel Quenville has repeatedly shot down the idea of Patrick Kane and Debrincat playing on the same line in 5-on-5 situations because of the lack of size and defense on that line. So I am slotting Debrincat in on Line 1, leaving a big hole on the left wing on Line 2.

Rick Nash is well known for his solid two-way game, while also being skilled enough to keep up with Kane and Schmaltz.  At 6-foot-4, Nash would be the perfect fit at left wing because he can play around the net and collect rebound goals to cash in on the huge amount of chances that Kane and Schmaltz will create together.

Lastly, his contract would fit perfectly with what the Blackhawks are trying to do, which is getting better in the present while not compromising their ability to sign their future pieces. Nash is reportedly contemplating retirement, which indicates he will only want a one-year contract with any team he signs.

With their newly acquired cap space, the Hawks could easily offer Nash something of a one-year, $5-$6 million dollar contract and slot him in on the Line 2 left wing. Immediately, they are a much better team than they were the day before.

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Also, signing Nash to this contract would compensate him very well for his one year of service, yet after that year he would be off the books and you have the space to sign Schmaltz and make whatever other moves you need to. If the Blackhawks are serious about contending this year, they should do everything they can to entice Rick Nash to come play along side one of the best wingers in all of the NHL in Kane.