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Should the Rangers shut Rick Nash down for the rest of the regular season?

John Dundon

rick nash profile 3-24

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Rangers forward Rick Nash has been sidelined since late January with what the team has called a bone bruise.

Nash collided into the boards awkwardly Jan. 22 against the Carolina Hurricanes. The fall and subsequent collision looked pretty bad at first. When Nash returned in the third period of that game a collective sigh was let out amongst the blueshirt faithful. It was revealed later that week that Nash would be “day to day,” that diagnosis soon became “week to week” from Rangers bench boss Alain Vigneault.

While Nash has resumed working out off the ice, he hasn’t been skating periodically since the lower body injury. With the NHL trade deadline now less than one week away, the fact that there is just over two months left in the season and the Rangers superstar winger still sidelined, the question begs asking: should the Rangers shut down their star winger by putting him on long term injured reserve?

If the Rangers were to take this avenue they would be airing highly on the side of caution (perhaps too highly) while also saving a large portion of Nash’s salary for deadline day trades.

This thought has been thrown around amongst fans and even by Elliot Freidman in his “30 thoughts” column. Here’s how it works. A team can place a player on LTIR when they know he will miss 10 games of 25 calendar days. Nash has already hit the 25 day mark, so they could put him on it retroactive to his injury, or extend it another 25 days. The regular season salary cap ends on April 10th, so it would only make sense to LTIR him if they are absolutely positive he will be out until then and if they need that money. Otherwise, it wouldn’t make much sense.

This would have its benefits. Under the CBA, LTIR cap relief would see the Rangers save about $4 million or so against the cap for trade deadline targets. According to @hockeystatminer, LTIR cap relief goes like this:  Nash’s cap hit ($7.8 million) minus the team’s cap space at time of LTIR placement (currently would be upwards of $3.7 million) = LTIR cap relief, which would equal somewhere in the neighborhood of an extra $4 million the Rangers could theoretically put towards a trade deadline target they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. It would nearly double the Rangers available cap room.

They would have to make the decision soon though to reap the rewards, as the deadline is less than a week away. Needless to say if the Rangers deem that Nash is not going to be out long(er) term, there would be no sense in shutting down their mammoth winger. The Rangers need to be 100% sure that Nash will be out until April 10th, because if he were to come off of the LTIR earlier, it would be near impossible to get back under the cap after adding more contracts.

But one wonders if the extra rest would be a way for Nash to get off of his playoff scoring schneid. In doing so, he would be the playoff difference maker the Rangers have coveted for years. If Nash were to be placed on LTIR, the Rangers would be able to make one or two extra deadline deals. Before last season’s trade deadline, Patrick Kane was placed on LTIR after suffering a broken collarbone. This enabled the Blackhawks to land center Antoine Vermette from the Arizona Coyotes with the money saved from Kane’s cap hit being nullified. A similar situation would give the Rangers some extra cash to play with. It would be a huge advantage going into the post season.

While this scenario would be nice, it is worth noting that the Rangers are still jockeying for home ice in the first round of the playoffs. Placing Nash on LTIR would have to mean they have to find a way to hold the two seed without their best forward. That two seed could become really important if the Rangers were to be pitted against the Islanders in the first round. Playing a game seven at Madison Square Garden sounds a hell of a lot better than at the Barclays Center.

It’s also worth noting that Nash has resumed off ice work outs, so it would appear this path is unlikely. Still, it’s a question that certainly begs asking and one that the Rangers brass has been mulling over in recent days.

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Posted on February 26, 2016, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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