The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired forward Riley Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a conditional 2022 7th round pick. If Nash plays in 25% of Toronto\’s playoff games, then the pick upgrades to a 6th rounder.
The Maple Leafs could use some bottom-six help, especially defensively. Nash brings exactly that. He can play center and right wing, and can be a shutdown defender while killing penalties. He does not bring in any offense, but the Leafs will be fine in that area, especially if they bring in a top-six winger to play with John Tavares and William Nylander. Nash is in the final year of a three year, $8.25 million contract, with a $2.75 million AAV. His responsible defensive play will help Toronto come playoff time. Not only does he kill penalties, he can stay out of the box, with just two minor penalties all season. Unfortunately, Maple Leafs fans may not see Nash in action until playoff time; he will be sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks with a knee injury.
Nash, 31, has scored two goals with five assists for seven points in 37 games for the Blue Jackets in 2020-21. In his NHL career for the Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes Nash has scored 63 goals with 109 assists for 172 points in 578 games.
The Blue Jackets are in sell mode, sitting seven points back of a playoff spot, while playing one more game than the 4th place Predators. Now with Boone Jenner, Zach Werenski and Gustav Nyquist out, they have and even better reason to sell. Nash\’s injury prevented them from getting a good return, as they undoubtedly would have received a better pick for a healthy Riley Nash. They still do get a late round draft pick, and it probably will be a sixth rounder, unless Nash\’s injury nags on.