DKM Hockey Podcast

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What is Rick Nash worth?

My father is an economist by education, but has accomplished much in life. My father taught me the greatest lesson learned about “Market Value” by happen stance that came about in a pack of baseball cards. It was 1991 and the Zenith of the baseball card craze. I was in my early teens and nearing the end of the acceptable age to be collecting sports cards. It was a random trip to Fishers Foods grocery store where I brought along ten dollars to buy a couple packs of Upper Deck baseball cards. I ended up with a valuable autographed Legends of Baseball Gaylord Perry baseball card. This was years before Al Gore had invented the internet, so there were few ways to find out what this card was worth: Go to a baseball card show or go to a baseball card store.

Ah, Stereotypes.

I was old enough to recognize that deep inside these places made me uncomfortable, but young enough not to understand why. Conflicted, I convinced father to take me to either place that weekend. He had enough of seeing me swap Walter Payton rookies for Mike Greenwell rookies. George Brett rookies for Sam Horn rated rookies (true stories). Discussing this rare card, he asked me what I thought the card was worth. Before I could answer, he said “whatever someone is willing to pay.” Smart man. Trying to minimize his exposure to the world of nerd-dom I would soon understand, we went to the card show in town  that weekend instead of the local card store. As it turns out, my father also happened to be ex-CIA as well, so I learned how to case a public place, profile merchants, gather intel, establish intellectual superiority, and negotiate from a position of strength. God I miss the Cold War. After a recon sweep of the card show (more of a army term, but it works), we found two vendors that had these autographed cards. Thanks to my father, it was discovered one of these vendors were missing only the Gaylord Perry to complete the entire set. As luck would have it, the vendor happened to be the guy who had the card store right in town. Phase one complete. The next step was to make sure I didn’t swap this valuable card for the 1986 Cleveland Indians team set.

By the age of 13 my father taught me how to throw a curve ball, take a slapshot, proper sports broadcasting, and how to code-in under duress.

We approached the baseball card guy from the local store - fat, balding, rude, and wearing gravy-stained apparel (obviously a Penguins fan) and he offered me $50 for the card. Had my father not been there, I would have taken the $50 and ran to the nearest arcade as fast as I could. My father mentioned the $400-$600 price tag on each of the other 4 or 5 cards in the series and asked why Gaylord Perry was only worth $50. My father is republican and doesn’t begrudge someone for trying to make a profit, he just likes it done fairly. He calmly commented to the baseball card guy on how he thought a 50% margin on retail goods was fair, cited the work and labor I saved the clichéd card store owner by already having the card in hand. The deal sealer was how the guy didn’t have to tear through another couple cases of cards to find this Gaylord Perry. My father told the vendor he thought $200 was a fair purchase price for the card considering the trouble I saved him and the immediate opportunity it presented. The vendor didn’t take long to see it my father’s way. He agreed to buy the card for $200 provided we didn’t tell the other vendors. Compartmentalized classified information was another of my father’s core competencies, oh the secrets my father will die with… but I digress. Upon shaking hands and handing over 10 twenty dollar bills, the baseball card guy stated he had a “guy in Akron” lined up to buy the whole set for a couple grand. Everyone walked away happy. I was 14 years old. The $200 I got was like ten grand to me. The lesson learned was long lasting. I learned how to evaluate a situation that was emotionally driven in nature, but was essentially a business transaction serving two people’s best interests. The lesson learned would serve me greater later on in life: buying homes, starting investments, retirement, and especially evaluating lame duck prohibitive contracts in the NHL.

I have always held that Rick Nash has one of the most prohibitive contracts in the NHL. This is largely due to the fact that the only shred of identity the Blue Jackets have is from Rick Nash (this is of course once Jody Shelly left). In my opinion, Nash is paid a premium in his salary because he is the face of hockey in Columbus, love it or leave it. It’s that premium that has no value anywhere else in hockey. Nash earned it here in Columbus, and understandably so. Whenever I tweet or post that Rick Nash’s salary is almost impossible to move, I get the “You’re nuts, you suck, suck it, you’re dumb” responses. Any team would love Rick Nash for sure. If his cap hit were neighborhood of 6 million (like Zetterberg or a Sedin) I would be typing about how cool Rick Nash looks in a Sharks sweater.

After 11 years, there are no "championship" banners of any kind hanging in Nationwide Arena.

Let me break it down another way. Rick Nash has the 5th highest cap hit in the league at 7.8MM. He has the 20th highest Salary in the league. He is 61st in scoring as of today. Last I checked, he’s made the top 40 in scoring one time and that’s including three monster seasons by Nash standards (his injury shortened 05-06 season was his best IMHO). What does Rick Nash have? He’s a good NHL’er for sure, but don’t say it. TOP LINE CENTER. Stop it with the “first line center” BS already. He’s been in the league 8 years, eight years! We’ve never seen his production in the NHL with a top line center, so how do we know it will improve? Don’t give me Switzerland or the Winter Olympics crap either… Sure, I could score at least 8 goals a season taking twelve shifts a game with Sidney Crosby or Joe Thornton. 12 goals if I could always skate against Scott LaChance. But which team has a top line center who is missing a wing? Queue cricket noise. Or my cover of "Mrs Robinson" And here’s to you Mr Adam Oates, Brett Hull turns his lonely eyes to you… ooo-oo-oooo.  Ok, maybe a bit too obscure.

Back to Trading Nash. Skipping the part where any trade is really up to Rick Nash, do you really think the league’s 61st place scorer with the fifth highest cap hit in the league is worth a first round pick? Listen Columbus, you’re not getting a high first round pick for a good player with a superstar cap hit. If Columbus is lucky, they could get something like a Hossa for Heatly or kind of trade (minus the tragedy). Swap a couple of players stuck in the mud and hope something happens. However, giving Columbus another first round pick is like giving Art Schleichter $250k and a weekend stay at the Bellaggio. If you’re going to trade away a first rounder and be pretty sure it won’t come back to haunt you, send it to Columbus.

I like Rick Nash. I want him to stay. But when I’m the GM of one of the 10 teams Nash is reported to have on his list, I’m not looking at the name. I’m looking at the salary and the production. Sure Nash is healthy, but he’s never had to play more than 86 games wire-to-wire. His shot total is still among the league leaders, but his goal production is slipping. Re-read that last sentence twice. Ouch. I’m not saying GMs don’t want Rick Nash. I’m saying most GM’s on Nash’s list can’t take Rick Nash. Too put it in perspective, Nash’s numbers aren’t too far off Geoff Sanderson’s career, minus those three years in Buffalo. 7.8MM cap hit and a guy who has played in 4 NHL playoff games? I’m sure there some teams who are willing to take Nash ‘as is’ for the asking price. But they are likely losers not on Nash’s list. Sorry Charlie. Look at it Rick Nash’s way, If I’m going to be on an “also ran” team, there’s no better place that Columbus. If they get their act together and hired some talent, Columbus is an exciting place to be in.

So, there are owners and fans walking through the hockey card show with 2nd line salary cap casualties and first round picks in their pockets looking for scoring. They look at the mint Rick Nash in the case and think to themselves, GOALS. I would imagine standing behind them is a smart, fatherly GM. One who looks at the risk vs the reward. One who sees that the cap hit never declines over the life of the contract. One who sees shots taken rise and goal production slip. One who looks past Vancouver, Switzerland, and those two 40 goal seasons long ago. He sees a 7.8 million a year cap hit for a guy who finds himself at the bottom of second page in the “NHL Scoring Leaders” each year. They see a guy hungry for playoffs, but who’s only seen four games and only scored in one. Columbus, you’re not going to get a first round pick and 2nd line stud for the league’s 42nd (career average) leading scorer with the 5th highest cap hit, I’m sorry.

The best you can hope for is a front office fire sale to bring in hockey players, or a team on Nash’s list willing to trade another top money guy stuck in the mud. Columbus, you have to understand that the only reason you even know about the trade request is because Scott Howson said something to the media so it didn’t look like he was sitting on his hands at the deadline again.  Shows you how much Nash is worth to Howson.  Bush league in my opinion.  It's a pro sports team, I get it.  Before we think of moving Nash, we should move the front office. But keep the marketing guys, they’re cool.

Oh, In case you’re wondering, that Gaylord Perry card is worth about $15 today, at least the one’s sitting unsold on eBay are.

Wondering where that $200 went?  I spent it on a Turbo Grafx-16.  Never heard of it, well, it is kind like the Blue Jackets in that regard.

No comments:

Post a Comment