|Nash's numbers are slightly down with 18 goals this season. (Getty Images)|
Is Rick Nash on the block or not in Columbus? That is the question this morning.
Well it appears we have a case of semantics being played. Whatever verbiage you want to use, Nash sure as heck sounds available and that's all that matters.
His name has been lobbed around just a little with Blue Jackets teammate Jeff Carter being mentioned a lot. But the conversation erupted again on Monday night when Renaud P. Lavoie of RDS in Canada tweeted "2 NHL sources told me that #bluejackets Rick Nash is on the market. Nash have a no-movement clause and will controle his destiny."
Columbus GM Scott Howson, who was reportedly in Philadelphia over the weekend for the Rangers and Flyers Saturday matinee, declined to comment on the report to the Columbus Dispatch. The Dispatch continued:
NHL sources -- from Columbus and beyond -- took issue with the suggestion that Nash is "on the block", but only the terminology. He is not being shopped by the Blue Jackets, they insist, and the club is not intent on moving him, as it is with Jeff Carter and perhaps others.
But the Blue Jackets, by far the worst club in the NHL this season and resigned to missing the playoffs for the third straight season, have reached a point where every player on the roster could be had if the price is right, and that includes Nash.
And a swirling rumor mill. The New York Rangers keep being mentioned with every Nash discussion out there, including from the New York Daily News' Pat Leonard.
Nash is in just the second season of an eight-year, $62.4 million contract carrying a $7.8 million annual cap hit. The Rangers only have $6.95 million left under the cap, so they would need to make room.
Nash (18 goals this season) would give the Rangers (36-13-5) -- who have struggled at times to score -- an established threat who could take pressure off Marion Gaborik and Ryan Callahan.
Huh. Here I thought that's what Brad Richards was supposed to do.
What would it take for the Rangers to get Nash? The flavor of the day seems to be a package of Brandon Dubinsky, super prospect Chris Kreider and the Rangers' No. 1 pick, which at this rate will barely be better than Columbus' second-round pick. Clearly that's a high price.
The part that seems to be the toughest for New York and its fans to swallow is parting with Kreider, currently playing with the Beanpot champion Boston College Eagles.
More on the Rangers, this comes from the New York Post's Larry Brooks, who confirms that the Rangers have talked to the Blue Jackets regarding Nash. But he also puts the brakes on a little.
The Rangers have had preliminary discussions with the Blue Jackets regarding the availability of Rick Nash, The Post has learned, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the 27-year-old power winger is en route to Broadway.
Indeed, an individual familiar with the situation told The Post that the chance of completing a trade before the Feb. 27 deadline is “a longshot.”
But the Rangers would hardly be the only suitor. The Los Angeles Kings would be interested in scoring help and the Washington Capitals will be mentioned, too. Over the weekend there were two Capitals scouts in attendance for a game in Columbus and the Jackets returned the favor with two on hand for Monday's Caps-Sharks tilt in D.C. They have some defensemen they could ship Columbus' way and you know that's a position of interest for the Jackets.
It's all a bit unbelievable it's come to this. Nash is the face of an otherwise faceless franchise. From all reports, he really does love playing in Columbus. Sometimes that makes a guy that much more valuable, a skilled player who wants to be in an otherwise undesirable market (sorry Columbus, lack of winning will do that). Right now the assumption is that Nash will be the player the All-Star Game is built around next season in Columbus. Who else will be the local hero?
“I love Columbus. I love being here. I love being a Blue Jacket," Nash said earlier this season. "The city of Columbus deserves a winner and deserves a good product on the ice. If it comes to that – like you said, all speculation – but if they don’t want me here, they want to move me? I’m not going to do something where it’s going to hurt the franchise just because I have that in my contract.”
The question is how much would it hurt the Jackets franchise if Nash were to leave. We might find out now.
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