McGreevy: Rangers leading push for Rick Nash

By: Matthew McGreevy, Contributing Writer
@mcmatthew4

COLUMBUS, OH – Part two of Rick Nash’s prolonged split with the Blue Jackets has begun as GM Scott Howson has resumed taking offers for Columbus’ franchise player.

(BridgetDS/Flickr)

At the trade deadline, Nash submitted a list of ten teams he would be willing to join. The Columbus Dispatch reported the Bruins, Kings, Rangers, Sharks, and Maple Leafs were among the teams Nash listed. However, Nash has never been one for the limelight and his personality suggests he is not enjoying the frenzy that surrounds his future, regardless of the control he has of it.

Throughout his career Nash has refused to bask in the stardom that comes with being a five-time All-Star and team leader. When he addressed the media following his asking for a trade, he disregarded personal motives and merely stated that he wanted the best for Columbus.

Nash’s unselfish and humble attitude implies that he might accept a trade to a team he has not previously listed if it means the process will cease. If this is true, teams such as Philadelphia and Carolina may have a greater chance than some previously believed. However, the Flyers’ future with either James Van Riemsdyk or Sean Couturier is dim as long as they wish to welcome Nash to The City of Brotherly Love and Carolina’s interest warrants recognition and nothing else.

Meanwhile, Howson will continue to entertain offers until one meets his steep asking price. The Blue Jackets’ lack of success and desire for immediate results indicates the team wants a deal that will bring at least one NHL ready or established player to Columbus in exchange for their star forward. Whether Howson wishes to land that player in a blockbuster or package deal remains undetermined.

The Blue Jackets largest chance at landing another All-Star depends on whether the Maple Leafs are wiling to sever their ties with Phil Kessel to make room for an Ontario-born winger in Nash.

San Jose is another team that could swing a blockbuster deal for Nash. Forwards Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski have been in Nash trade talks before, though the Sharks have pinned the 23-year-old Couture as “untouchable.” While the label seems permanent, the right deal could easily remove it.

Nash’s relationship with San Jose’s captain Joe Thornton may be the reason the Blue Jackets have been in communication with the Sharks. The two played together on Sweden’s HC Davos and on Team Canada. However, San Jose has not been as persistent in acquiring Nash this offseason as it was before the 2012 trade deadline.

Boston is another team that appears to be less active in trade talks. Because Tim Thomas has announced he will not play next season, Columbus can no longer look to the Bruins to solve their goaltending struggles and therefore the possibility of striking a deal with Boston is not as plausible.

Teams showing less interest in Nash have opened the door for others who have maintained their pursuit of the power forward. The New York Rangers, who have long been considered the favorite to acquire Nash, are gaining an edge with the Sharks’ refusal to move Couture and the Bruins’ goaltending shake-up.

Similarly to San Jose, the Rangers have stated some players are “untouchable”. Playoff standouts Chris Kreider and Ryan McDonagh have been said to be off limits, though signs show that Howson will not accept a trade without one of these players.

In the event that Howson cedes, New York still has a variety of assets they could unload. Young players like Carl Hagelin and Michael Del Zotto could add to Columbus’ strong crop of young skaters, though the Blue Jackets would benefit more from goal-scorers such as Brandon Dubinsky and Derek Stepan.

Draft picks and prospects will probably be a part of any deal Columbus accepts but the team’s hunger for immediate change means that at least one big name will come in return for Nash. It also means that soon, the Blue Jackets fan base will be buzzing and Nash will finally find serenity after months of frenzied gamesmanship.

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