Nash for the a top pick?

The motto has been “Fail for Nail”. If I am the Toronto Maple Leafs, I may not be bad enough to outright get him and the 1st overall pick (without some ridiculous lottery luck involved. I still say the NHL needs to change it to be more like the NBA cause the NHL lottery is Boring, but I digress), so why not go out and trade for him?

The Columbus Blue Jackets would have a really difficult time in making this selection. While he may in fact be better than Nikita Filatov or Nikolai Zherdev, suffice to say this franchise has not had much luck with Russian forwards.

So, perhaps they trade the pick (though smart money is they keep Yakubov). Here is where Toronto comes in.

The Leafs will have likely a top 5 selection. So why not use that, along with other assets to acquire the 1st selection.

Why not get the best player in the draft. Its the kind of earth shattering type of move Brian Burke loves to make. He did that to get Chris Pronger in Hartford and he did some moving and shaking to bring both Sedin twins to Vancouver.

Yakubov seems to be the clear cut top talent in this year’s draft. He is a superb offensive player with high end top level speed and skill. Though there are always some fears of “The Russian Factor”, it doesn’t seem to apply with Yakubov who came over early and is playing Major Junior in the OHL.

He is not a big player, and of course won’t solve the issue of the lack of a top line, big centre or be able to stop pucks, it would though bring a big kick to a flailing franchise coming off an absolutely terrible end to the season.

So here’s how I would go about it. Not only would I try and nab Yakubov, but why not Rick Nash as well?

The Jackets captain has had a tough ride, especially this season. There were high hopes for the team after it acquired Jeff Carter from Philadelphia and started to surround Nash with some good talent.

That experiment failed miserably. Carter got hurt, Nash has struggled all season and it appears that he and the Jackets will sever ties this summer.

The Brampton native would be a perfect fit for the Leafs. He, like Yakubov, is not a centre, but the combination of his size and skill is the kind of power player the Leafs sorely need. If Toronto, under new coach Randy Carlyle, want to build a team that can really be a force down low and on the cycle, a big body like Nash who can score 30-40 goals, would be a great asset. Both him and Lupul would be a handful for opponents.

To acquire the Nash/Yakubov combo, the offer would be as follows:

To Toronto: Rick Nash, Marc Methot and 1st overall selection (Nail Yakubov)

To Columbus: Phil Kessel, Luke Schenn, 4th or 5th overall selection (where the Jackets land hopefully Filip Forsberg if not then American Belarussian Alex Galchenyuk), and Toronto’s 2nd round selection (likely 34th or 35th overall)

I realize, there will be a giant backlash, especially in trading Kessel.

Considering the price paid to acquire him, Leaf Nation seems pretty adamant that they need to acquire double that if they were to trade him.

To me, Kessel just scores goals. Thats great, but there is just no fight in his game, no will, no desire, no defence. There are no leadership abilities here. He is a nice complimentary piece, but isn’t a guy Toronto can build around.

40 goals and 80 points are fine, but overall, I don’t know how much that really counted considering how many goals he was on the ice against. The line of Tyler Bozak, Jeoffrey Lupul and Kessel really struggled defensively and were overall a liability.

Kessel’s inability on many nights to get the puck out on the right side and his fear of being hit or entering any situation where contact is involved really was the telling sign of the Leafs this season, mostly late this season when the games got tougher and the losses mounted.

Production wise, Nash could easily fill Kessel’s void. But he may also prove to be a better all around player and definitely someone who’d show some care for what’s on the front of the sweater. Yes, the numbers do not bear that as he is a -20 this season. But keep in mind, that’s a bad team in Columbus, just like the Leafs team that was brutal from October to February last year but turned it on. Kessel then was a -20 player.

Toronto has bemoaned the fact the team is constantly playing against teams who come into the ACC with several players playing in front of friends and family looking to impress. Well why not have a few care about doing that 41 nights a year.

I think Nash would be that kind of player. We’ve heard at nausem the dreadful term “blue and white disease” and I firmly believe the Leafs management team thinks local players here are already afflicted with such illness.

I think the opposite. I think local guys more than anyone would know what its like here and what it means to be a Leaf. They know what the heart of Leaf Nation is like. Take Matt Stajan for example. He severely lacked talent and was playing out of role, but every game, every loss, he looked like he cared.

Nash i really believe would start to care again. I think he’s lost that a bit after all this losing. Now, the Leafs are not much better than Columbus, but he should be boosted being in a big market that cares so much and back in Canada.

And what more can be said about Yakubov? He could be the prolific goal scorer like Kessel. Is there risk? You bet. But sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. At this time, after all these struggles, what do they have to lose?

Basically it breaks down like this for Columbus.

They trade Nash’s large contract for Kessel’s more affordable deal, but which has just 2 years left on it which at that time they will have to worry about re-signing him. They also get Kessel, who has been on more of a point’s upswing compared to Nash. And, they simply change the face of the franchise. A change that needed to happen. He doesn’t fill any leadership void. but, he can at least score for them like Nash, something the Jackets have struggled with. Plus, Kessel is a bit younger than Nash.

They move the 1st overall pick for the 4th or 5th pick, get a high 2nd round pick and get a defenceman in Luke Schenn with some potential.

I believe both need to go hand in hand as it helps resolve many of the Jackets problems and helps them hit the reset button and start over, but still gain a big name talent like Kessel.

It seems like a ton to give up just to move up a few spots. But its not unprecedented for Burke. He did something similar when he moved a young Bryan McCabe in a deal to secure a second top 3 pick to get the Sedins. He spent a large number of picks to move up to get Pronger.

Schenn would offer the Jackets a defensive defenceman with some jam to work with James Wisniewski, Jack Johnson and John Moore whom they are building their defence around. Schenn is another building block and a fairly recent former top 5 pick himself.

It would maybe be great to see what Carlyle and Dave Farrish could do with Schenn, but I think his style of game can be replaced. Plus, I like how Cody Franson plays.

If they ended up drafting Forsberg, they get a winger with a lot of potential still. Perhaps not the flash of Yakubov, but a sturdy prospect nonetheless.

Forsberg is projected to be a power forward type player, perhaps not that much different than Gabriel Landeskog but not yet as polished. Its a good way to start rebuilding as he could be a difference maker soon.

With Kessel, Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, there’s a foundation there for a young top line. Its a start for a team that hit rock bottom this year. With their young D, and adding help in goal, they could be fine.

They will likely pick up a good asset or a couple of good assets in the early part of round two with their own pick and the Leafs likely in the top 5 of th
at round. It will help them add more organizational depth. They also have the Kings 1st round pick so, this could really help expedite their rebuilding process. They have to start over and start fresh and I think it would be a good start for them.

It does sound like a lot to give up, but really, I believe it would be worth the risk for the Leafs.

Back to Toronto, well, from here, obviously this couldn’t be the only thing Burke does. He of course would still need to fill that elusive goaltending spot plus add help to his defence and more size, character up front.

Of course as well, he has to get rid of some dead wood, like Colby Armstrong, Mike Komisarek, Tim Connolly and Matthew Lombardi. That’s a combined 16 million or so in cap space. Wasted cap space.

Its a ton of work, but, a huge trade like this one could perhaps lead to a chain of events that could help change the team’s fortunes.

Like maybe adding Nash and adding Yakubov leads Ryan Suter to sign with Toronto as he could have liked what Toronto was doing. (of course throwing him a ton of money too will be quite convincing as well.)

Perhaps adding these two forwards too opens the door for the team to move decent assets like Bozak, Nikolai Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur, change the look of the team a bit. Like perhaps for a goaltender.

And in turn, by adding salary, it will force them to move some of it away and allows for prospects like Nazem Kadri, Joe Colborne, Matt Frattin, Carter Ashton and Korbinian Holzer to legitimately challenge for jobs next season while being affordable, entry level assets.

By no means do I expect any of this to happen. I would say there is probably a less than 0.5 percent chance of any of this occurring.

But hey, its at least worth exploring if I am Burke.

I am a passionate Leaf fan who just wants to see the team, my favorite team do its best. I think that should include doing what it takes to get the best available talents.

Heck if it means shirking the Burke rules and going big to sign Suter, so be it. (afterall, 7.5 million was the norm scratched and in the press box under Ron Wilson). If it means trading for Nash, arguably the best available talent via trade available, go for it. Get someone who may care about the city and about really succeeding here. If it means drafting still to keep in line with building a team for now and the future, well why not draft the best out there. Heck, why not even throw money at Cory Schnieder or even Carey Price with offer sheets and see what happens.

This franchise has the wherewithall and the money to do whatever it takes. In all honesty I dont think it has, for a while, if ever.

With 2 years left on his deal, I think its prudent for Burke to do something. Do the thing he was brought in for in the first place and that’s build a winner.

Here’s hoping Burke does something. This roster, as is, I dont think is good enough. Definitely not strong enough mentally. Hopefully the fragility is just the players and not with the man who is bringing them in. If Burke starts to doubt himself, well we could all be in a world of hurt. Much worse than any cat calls or boo’s could ever be.

Its good to be back writing about hockey again. Again, this is my own opinion and like I said, the likelihood of this is almost non-existent.