We know that the Columbus Blue Jackets have made Rick Nash is available for trade.
We also know that Nash has a no-movement clause in his contract, therefore being in full control of where he will end up if dealt to another team.
Speculation is that Nash has already handed Blue Jackets general manger Scott Howson a list of no more than five teams he would allow a trade to.
What we don’t know is which teams he is willing to accept a trade to.
While Nash and the Blue Jackets has been linked to a number of teams recently, here is our take on who the contenders to land the one-time 40-goal scorer if a deal were to go down before the February 27 trade deadline.
New York Rangers
Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports that the New York Rangers have already contacted the Blue Jackets to inquire about Nash, but a trade to the Big Apple remains a long shot.
For one thing, as Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News points out, the Rangers would have to clear some cap space to accommodate Nash’s $7.8 million annual cap hit this season, and especially going forward. Secondly, the cost in terms of assets appears to be much more than the package reported by Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun of Brandon Dubinsky, highly touted prospect Chris Kreider, and a first-round draft pick. While Rangers general manager Glen Sather wants to add a legitimate goal-scorer for the playoffs, he may not be interested in paying that high a price for Nash.
Still, we can’t shake the feeling that the Rangers have it bad for Nash, especially when they two teams have been scouting each other recently.
Leonard reported Monday that a Rangers scout was in Minnesota for the Columbus Blue Jackets game against the Wild, while a scout from the Blue Jackets “attended at least two of the Rangers’ past four home games.” Not to mention that the Blue Jackets sent three representatives, including Howson, to the Rangers-Flyers game in Philadelphia last Saturday.
Speaking of the Flyers, NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor Adam Kimelman reported that when Howson and Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren were spotted having a long one-on-one chat during that February 11 game between the Rangers and Philadelphia. Howson says he prefers to have those kinds of meetings with his colleagues.
You do it both ways, obviously. But anytime you can get face-to-face with somebody and talk to them and have a little more time in a face-to-face encounter… I prefer it be face-to-face because I think you can get more out of it.
It’s uncertain what they were discussing, but as CBC’s Elliotte Friedman points out that Howson attended a Toronto and Ottawa game to the surprise of many — because he doesn’t attend non-Blue Jackets games — a few years ago, and ended up trading for the Senators’ Antoine Vermette just days later. Time will tell if events will repeat, and if Nash was the player the two general managers were indeed discussing.
Sean Gentille of the Sporting News suggests that the Flyers could put together a package revolving around forward Brayden Schenn and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Nash, who was born in Brampton (a suburb of Toronto), has also been linked with the Toronto Maple Leafs. A report earlier this month by AM 640 hockey analyst Bill Waters had the Maple Leafs sending Mikhail Grabovski, Nazem Kadri, Luke Schenn, and maybe prospect Joe Colborne as well, to the Blue Jackets in exchange for Nash.
While that specific report was debunked by many media sources, it is expected Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke will at least investigate the possibility of acquiring Nash. The Maple Leafs have long been in the market for a big top-six forward, and Nash would fit the bill.
The Maple Leafs not only have the financial means to absorb Nash’s salary, but also have the ware withal to bury contracts in the minors in order to clear cap room, if need be. They also have a number of intriguing prospects — other than the ones mentioned above — such as defensemen Keith Aulie and Korbinian Holzer, forward Matt Frattin, and goalies Ben Scrivens, Mark Owuya, and Jussi Rynnas to make available for the Blue Jackets.
UPDATE (Feb. 15): According to Damien Cox of SporteNet, the Toronto Maple Leafs are on Nash’s short list he would allow the Blue Jackets to trade him to.
Los Angeles Kings
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun the Kings are also in the market for a scoring forward, and Nash definitely fits that requirement. The Kings have goalie Jonathan Bernier and defenseman Jack Johnson as well as prospects Andrei Loktionov and Slava Voynov, to offer the Blue Jackets.
Of course, a number of other teams could end up in the Nash sweepstakes. During a segment of TSN’s NHL Insider, McKenzie speculated that the Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks, and Vancouver Canucks may express some interest.
For more analysis of teams potentially interested in Nash, check out a video of TSN’s That’s Hockey panel discussing the various possibilities.