NHL Trade Rumors: Why Los Angeles Kings Must Deal for Rick Nash

Steven ConklinCorrespondent IIFebruary 21, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 01:  Rick Nash #61 of the Columbus Blue Jackets breaks in on Jack Johnson #3 of the Los Angeles Kings during the game at Staples Center on February 1, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Kings are in the middle of the Western Conference playoff race. Rick Nash is the reason NHL trade talks are heating up more than ever

How about the two come together?

The Los Angeles Kings must deal for Rick Nash. He is a player who could be the difference between the Kings being a bottom seed or catapulting into the best of the best. 

Los Angeles is currently sitting tied for the final spot in the playoffs for the Western Conference. Both the Kings and the Calgary Flames own 65 points, just two points behind the Phoenix Coyotes for a safer position. 

With the talent Los Angeles has, the team should be in a much better situation. 

And they would be if they could score goals. 

The Kings are 30th in the NHL with 124 goals, good for dead last.  Forward Anze Kopitar leads the team with just 17 of his own and the team's power play ranks just 24th. 

At the same time, Los Angeles is still playing some of the league's best defense. 

Only the New York Rangers (116) and the St. Louis Blues (117) have allowed fewer goals this year than the Kings, who have allowed 124 pucks to hit the back of the net. 

The penalty kill is the best in the West and stands fourth in the league. Goaltender Jonathan Quick is having an All-Star campaign and is reaching elite status. 

Being a team so extreme on both sides of the red line, Los Angeles needs to change something. If they want to go anywhere past the first week of April, the Kings will need to improve the anemic offense and put goals on the board. 

Trading for Rick Nash is the best way of doing so.

Nash currently leads the Columbus Blue Jackets with 19 goals and 40 total points. Those numbers may not be jaw-dropping but keep in mind he plays on the worst team in hockey. 

The 27-year-old captain is one of the best two-way forwards in the NHL and has proven himself over the years. Being placed on a better squad than the Jackets would boost his level of play this year back to all-star caliber. 

Nash's current contract locks him up until 2018. His current $7,500,000 salary will reach $8,200,000 by the end of the agreement. 

That is an investment the Kings could afford. It's a Hollywood-type contract for a flashy player. 

There is no question Rick Nash would help Los Angeles, but what would it take to bring him in?

The Columbus Blue Jackets are surely looking for an incredible return for a player who is much better than any other on the market. During this rebuilding process, Columbus will want young, proven talent to complement rising star Ryan Johansen. 

Of any team in the NHL, the Los Angeles Kings have the assets to pry Nash away from the Jackets' clutches. 

The Kings have young defensemen in Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson and Slava Voynov. Defense is something Columbus will need to covet if they want to be relevant again. 

Los Angeles also has the ideal goalie situation. Jonathan Bernier is an excellent backup who would start on most teams in the league right now.

With Quick playing so well, the Kings can afford to give up Bernier's services if that is Columbus' desire. 

So what would Los Angeles offer for Rick Nash's presence?

On Monday, Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period tweeted that the Kings have offered Jonathan Bernier, Jack Johnson, and Andrei Loktionov.

If the Kings really have expanded their offer to this, why wouldn't Columbus accept?

Jack Johnson is an integral part of the Kings' successful defense this year and has many solid years left in him at just 25 years old. His minus-11 rating is somewhat surprising with the team being a total minus-two. 

Jonathan Bernier has started just 11 games in net this year, but is playing pretty well. He has posted a 2.57 goals-against rating to go along with his .900 save percentage. With Quick's phenomenal campaign, Bernier is being overlooked. 

Andrei Loktionov is the team's best prospect. The 21-year-old center has played 37 games this season. While doing so, he has scored just six points but he will only improve given time. The potential is there. 

I also believe Los Angeles would have to offer some sort of draft pick, but I don't think it will be an early one. 

The combination of Bernier, Loktionov and Olympian Jack Johnson is a great package for Nash and is better than what any other team will offer for his services before the deadline. 

The bottom line is that Los Angeles must deal for Rick Nash.

With his arrival and an offensive boost, the Kings could cement themselves as a playoff team and separate themselves from teams like Phoenix, Minnesota, Calgary and Dallas

Cross your fingers, Kings fans. 

Steven Conklin is a contributing writer for the Bleacher Report and a student at the University of Central Missouri. He joined B/R in October 2011 and is currently a B/R intern. Any comments, questions or suggestions are more than welcome.


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