Riley Nash may not play again during the regular season, but he’s now in a situation where the playoffs could be a possibility. The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired Riley Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a conditional seventh-round selection in 2022. Nash is expected to miss four to six weeks with a sprained knee, meaning he essentially is a playoff pickup for the Maple Leafs. If he plays in 25% of the Maple Leafs’ playoff games this season, the seventh-round selection will become a sixth-rounder.
The veteran forward will likely be put on long-term injured reserve through the end of the season, meaning his cap hit is basically irrelevant to the Maple Leafs. Toronto had placed Frederik Andersen on LTIR earlier today as well, meaning the team can go further into the extra room with Nash placed there. Once the playoffs begin, the salary cap isn’t used, meaning Toronto could activate both players without penalty.
It may seem complicated, but at the end of the day, this is the Maple Leafs exercising their financial power to grab some added playoff depth at a very low cost. Nash may not even be ready to contribute this season, but for just a seventh-round pick it’s a worthwhile gamble. The 31-year-old center isn’t much of an offensive presence, with just two goals and seven points through 37 games this season, but has long been lauded for his checking abilities and defensive prowess.
For Columbus, getting anything back for an expiring contract that wasn’t going to play again this season is a win, though obviously, they would have rather moved him without the injury involved. The Blue Jackets aren’t technically out of the playoff race in the Central Division, but after losing Nash, Boone Jenner, and Zach Werenski over the last few days, things aren’t looking good.
This move does not take Toronto out of the running for another forward, in fact, it could give them even more cap flexibility depending on Andersen’s injury situation. GM Kyle Dubas has been open about his desire to improve the club with rentals, pushing some chips to the middle in this unique season.