The New York Rangers are considered the front-runners for Rick Nash, both because the Columbus Blue Jackets captain would be willing to move to Broadway and because the Rangers have a plethora of assets that could interest Columbus.
While the Rangers have never exactly been spendthrift, Nash does carry a $7.8 million cap hit through 2018. As Larry Brooks of the NY Post pointed out on Sunday, Rangers GM Glen Sather might be at the same point Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi was this season — make the bold move for now, repercussions be damned.
Future moves would be restricted in taking on this contract commitment to Nash, but even more so with a new collective bargaining agreement under which cap likely is to be recalculated and regulations likely are to be restrictively redefined (e.g., terms limits and front-loading) beginning next season.
Del Zotto will become a restricted free agent on July 1. McDonagh, Stepan, Anisimov and Hagelin will become restricted free agents next summer. Then, after two more seasons, Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi (and Marian Gaborik) are eligible to become unrestricted free agents while Kreider will be restricted.
Does Sather interpret all this as a window closing after two years, thus prompting him to make a bold move now, the way Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi did in acquiring Jeff Carter's strangling contract a few days before the deadline? It's impossible to know at this moment.
It's an interesting point. Brad Richards, the Rangers' free agent prize last summer, is 32. The rest of the roster is a smattering of players in their prime (Lundqvist) or entering it (Girardi) or young talent on the rise. The window is there for them to win now, yet should they take advantage of adding that kind of salary commitment given the other decisions Brooks lays out here?
Aaron Portzline of the Dispatch told us on the podcast this week that he sees Nash ending up with the Rangers. For now, it appears that Sather's more concerned with the team's offensive output than it's room against the cap.