James van Riemsdyk doesn't want to leave Philadelphia, and according to a report from WIP's Howard Eskin, the Flyers forward is delaying surgery on a torn labrum in his hip in an attempt to stop a trade. That trade could potentially include the Columbus Blue Jackets and forward Rick Nash, according to Eskin.
Paul Holmgren denies all of this, telling CSNPhilly.com Monday morning that the speculation is "way off base." Alrighty, then. That's the answer we would expect whether this was true or not, frankly. Holmgren can't allow this sort of claim to be out there for obvious reasons, so we should really take the organization's line on this with a grain of salt.
van Riemsdyk's agent is taking a similar position -- again, take it with a grain of salt -- saying that the report from Eskin is "flat out wrong and irresponsible journalism." Meanwhile in Columbus, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch has been told the same thing -- that the Eskin report is "totally bogus."
We also know that while Eskin is certainly plugged in when it comes to sources, he's been known to exaggerate things at times. Puck Daddy calls him a "conversation starter," and that's an apt description at times.
Where there's smoke, there tends to be fire, and hell, I wouldn't want to go to Columbus either if I were JvR. The rumors around JvR have been so strong both this past season and in the past that I would venture to guess something is going on one way or the other, but who knows exactly what that something is. It's really impossible to know, as everybody has their reasons for spinning this story in a million different ways.
In any event, let's take a look at this entire situation, from the merits of trading van Riemsdyk to the thought of acquiring Rick Nash and everything in between.
First off, let's talk about a van Riemsdyk trade. He's still very much in that "Might be worth his contract someday, but current isn't" phase of his career. We've discussed in the past the pros and cons of signing him to a six-year deal worth $4.25 million per year in average annual value, and we can generally agree that van Riemsdyk is not worth $4.25 million against the salary cap today.
In three years? Could be a steal, but the fact of the matter is that right now, he's not worth that money. His injury problems are a concern as well -- he only played 43 games last season. It's impossible to know whether or not he'll ever live up to his contract, and for that reason, I'd say it's worth trading him if you get the right offer.
So, is Rick Nash worth acquiring? Man, this is Philadelphia. If there's a big name free agent or potential trade piece on the NHL market, you just know the Flyers are going to be mentioned in rumors about him. There's always interest in these kinds of guys from the Flyers -- whether you're Paul Holmgren or Bob Clarke -- and we can only hope that much of the time, the organization shows restraint when it comes to actually throwing money at these guys.
Eric T. did a lot of the leg work on this one today in our comments, so we'll just link to that. In a nutshell, Nash is the complete opposite of van Riemsdyk -- worth his contract now, perhaps, but in two or three years? Probably not so much.
I'm not so sure that Nash will outperform JvR over the six years that they each have remaining on their deal. I'm pretty sure he won't outperform him by enough to justify a $3.55M per year gap in pay.
Nash will probably be better this year, maybe next. A trade like that might help the team in the short run. But a few years out, when Nash is breaking down and JvR is hitting his prime - for $3.55M less - it will be sorely regretted.
It's juicy, this whole wanting Rick Nash thing. There's no denying he's a great player, but he's locked up at nearly $8 million per season for the next six years. Even if it makes sense to trade James van Riemsdyk, it probably doesn't make sense to trade him for Rick Nash.
A straight up trade? Nah. We've already established that a one-for-one swap of Nash for van Riemsdyk doesn't make a ton of sense from the Flyers perspective, but from Columbus' perspective?
It doesn't make much sense either. Think about it: Sure, it's Scott Howson, and we know how much of a joke he is as a general manager, but this is Rick Nash we're talking about here. His worth to the Blue Jackets organization is worlds higher than it is to any other simply because of what he means to that team and that city. He's their franchise player.
Nash wasn't traded at the deadline because Howson and the Blue Jackets weren't utterly blown away by an offer. It was reported that the Rangers offered him touted prospect Tim Erixon, a first-round pick and one of Ryan McDonagh or Michael Del Zotto were offered to Howson for Nash -- and he still said no.
What makes us think that JvR would be enough to get this done?
Long story short, I'm not sure this all holds up to the light of day. Could James van Riemsdyk be traded? Sure. Could the Flyers acquire Rick Nash? Sure. Could the Flyers trade James van Riemsdyk for Rick Nash without including a ton of other pieces? Probably not.
Should the Flyers trade James van Riemsdyk for Rick Nash? No.