What up. Since Leaf Nation is torn on whether or not moving Gardiner in a deal for Nash makes sense, here's my 2 cents:
Flash back to 2001, the Leafs have a deal in place that would send Kaberle, Antropov, a 1st and prospect (wanna say it was Colaiacovo) to the Bolts for Vinny Lecavalier. Pat Quinn balked because he had to give up Kabby, wanted to move Markov but that was a no-go for Tampa Bay. And so the deal fell through.
Now of course Kaberle went on to have a great career with Toronto, currently sitting at 5th on the team's all time assist list. Nik Antropov also was a very good player for us for a long time and one of our top scorers, consistantly for a few seasons.
Vinny Lecavalier scored 50 goals, 40+ on multiple occasions, cracked 100+ points in a season, racked up crazy stats, won a cup, played for Canada in the Olympics and is still a great hockey player (19 pts in 18 games last year in the playoffs!)
Holding onto Jake Gardiner would not be a bad decision by any means, and if he becomes the next Kaberle, or even comes close to replicating Kabby's stats then that's awesome. But I would always trade a great young puck moving defenseman for a stud, big forward.
Best case scenario for Jake Gardiner: He becomes a Scott Niedermayer
Likely/Optimistic scenario for Gardiner: He becomes a Liles, Kaberle, etc.
Likely/Pessimistic scenario for Gardiner: He becomes Colaiacovo, Tverdovsky, etc.
Only scenario for Nash: He is Rick Nash. Enough said.
Next, for those of you whining about holding onto our 1st rounder and some prospects. I feel you, and I don't want to throw away our future either. However, please consider this -
I want to talk about JFJ's first year at as Leafs GM. This was in 2003/04
At the trade deadline that season there were a few big names bouncing around, including Alex Kovalev who was traded from NYR to Montreal (eventually becoming the face of the franchise) and another player traded from NYR, Brian Leetch who became a Maple Leaf for:
Maxim Kondratiev, Jarko Imminen, 1st round pick (and a later pick)
A lot of people were calling into the radio station that night with mixed feelings. "We gave up a 1st rounder and 2 of our best prospects for a 38 year old..." etc. But the fact is, none of those assets amounted to anything. Statistically speaking most draft picks and prospects don't. And historically speaking the team that trades the star for the package of prospects loses in the long run. This fact transcends hockey, Drabek for Halladay, those (Williams? Wilson?) brothers and Alonso Mourning for Vince Carter... (burnt Toronto Sports fan rant).
Of course this isn't 2004, we don't have Sundin, Roberts, Renberg, Mogilny, Nolan, Nieuwendyk, McCabe, Kaberle, Antropov, Reichel, Ron Francis... what a team! But Rick Nash is also not a 38 year old Brian Leetch. This is a move both for now and the future, and its one the Leafs should make.
Let's assume Gardiner is a MUST from Columbus's end, and especially to out bid the Rangers, and a 1st rounder is a given. The other pieces would include 2 of Frattin, Colbourne, Kadri, and the Jackets could possibly have interest in Keith Aulie, Nikolai Kulemin, or Korbinian Holzer as a little icing in the cake.
So I figure it would cost us:
Fat package. All 3 guys have some NHL experience, all are young, all have varying degrees of potential/upside. None are statistically or reasonably likely to ever be as good as Rick Nash will be for the next 5-10 years. This would be a good short/long term move.
Anyway's, 1 guys opinion.