The gritty forward likely won’t appear until the playoffs, if at all.
The Toronto Maple Leafs announced tonight that they made a trade:
TRADE: #CBJ acquire a conditional 7th round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft from Toronto in exchange for center Riley Nash. The selection becomes a 6th round pick if Nash plays in 25 pct. of the Maple Leafs' playoff games this season.— CBJ Public Relations (@BlueJacketsPR) April 9, 2021
The first striking thing about Nash is that right now, he’s not playing at all.
Nash is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with sprained knee. Playoffs start for Maple Leafs in roughly 5 weeks. He could be stashed on LTIR and activated for the playoffs, like Lightning with Nikita Kucherov.— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) April 9, 2021
That makes Nash’s cap hit—$2.75M—very manageable, since if Nash returns for G1 of the playoffs there’s no longer a salary cap to worry about. Pierre LeBrun has some additional notes on potential cap shenanigans:
Freddy Andersen went on retroactive LTI today which doesn’t necessarily mean anything long term given the time he’s missed. Riley Nash will fit into the LTI room with the Leafs and then go on LTI himself. He is a player the Leafs like when he gets healthy.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) April 9, 2021
Regarding the player himself: Nash, who will turn 32 next month, is a gritty forward with a solid history on the defensive side of the puck. Evolving Hockey rates his contributions like so:
How much Nash has left in the tank is an open question at this stage, even beyond his health. Nash has occasionally played centre, which may be relevant to the Leafs wanting to acquire him. His offence, which was limited to begin with, is mostly gone at this point (he has 2G, 5A in 37 GP this year) and this doesn’t seem like the kind of add that’s going to bump Alex Galchenyuk out of the top six. Still, Nash does bring some of the grit element that Kyle Dubas has seemed to prize in the past year or so.
The price is very modest, even if the pick does promote to a sixth (which is barely different from a seventh in value anyway.) This isn’t the big upgrade that Dubas has been expected to make, and he might still hunt for bigger game, but Nash may be an interesting depth addition as the playoffs approach.
Welcome to Toronto, Riley!
The assumption on the cap shuffle:
Despite being on IR in Columbus, Toronto still had to fit Nash under the cap before placing him on IR/LTIR.— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) April 9, 2021
Our assumption is the #Leafs made a recall, got close to the ceiling, placed Andersen, acquired Nash, then placed Nash on LTIR.
But we're working on confirming all that.