All eyes are on the Columbus Blue Jackets as they search for a deal for right winger Rick Nash, but he’s not the only Blue Jacket attracting interest around the league as the trade deadline nears.
In addition to fielding offers for Nash and openly shopping center Jeff Carter, The Columbus Dispatch reported the Blue Jackets have also received enquiries about left winger R.J. Umberger and center Derick Brassard.
GM Scott Howson acknowledged the market for Nash was slow. It appears he’s hoping a playoff contender will make a significant move and spark a trade frenzy that would increase interest in the Columbus captain.
A growing consensus suggests the L.A. Kings are the best destination for Nash, as they’re floundering offensively and in danger of missing the playoffs.
Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times suggested Kings GM Dean Lombardi is feeling pressure to acquire a top scorer to salvage the season or risk losing his job if the Kings fail to qualify for the playoffs.
However, not everyone is convinced the Kings are the prime destination for Nash. TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted that he believes the New York Rangers are the frontrunners.
Dreger also reported Tuesday the San Jose Sharks “are emerging as a strong contender” for Nash, though they’d prefer an off-season deal to avoid in-season disruption. Howson reportedly had interest in Sharks sophomore center Logan Couture, but was told he’s unavailable.
Given the difficulties of moving high-salaried stars such as Nash and Carter, Howson might find it easier to locate trade partners for Umberger and Brassard at the deadline, provided he wants to move them.
Umberger will enter the first year of a five-year, $23-million contract next season. He doesn’t have a no-trade clause right now, but one is scheduled to kick in with his new deal. Brassard is midway through a four-year, $12.8-million deal and lacks any sort of movement clause.
EXPECT SENATORS DEADLINE DAY TO BE SLOW
The Ottawa Senators’ roller-coaster season has taken another turn. They’re unbeaten in five games (4-0-1) following a seven-game winless skid (0-6-1) and have opened a five-point gap over the eighth-place Toronto Maple Leafs.
While the Senators remain seventh in the Eastern Conference, they’re only three points behind the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins and two behind the Northeast Division-leading Boston Bruins, though Boston holds four games in hand.
In an interview with Toronto radio station the Fan 590 on Monday, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said his team has no plans to add players at the deadline, as GM Bryan Murray informed him there was no pressing need to do so.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun suggested Melnyk’s comments raised the possibility of Murray moving out players with expensive contracts, such as defensemen Filip Kuba and Sergei Gonchar, for “young players who will grow with the team.”
Murray shot down the notion of Kuba being moved, telling reporters on Tuesday the veteran blueliner has earned great respect on the club. Murray also claimed he was puzzled about why Kuba’s name ever came up in trade rumors.
Kuba and Gonchar have played well this season and, with the Senators battling for a playoff spot, it wouldn’t make sense to move them now.
This will probably be Kuba’s final season with the Sens, though, as he comes off the books this summer as an unrestricted free agent. Gonchar only has one season (albeit at a cap hit of $5.5 million with a no-movement clause) remaining on his contract and has stated his desire to stay put.
Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon has made it clear he won’t be a seller at this year’s trade deadline and is believed to be shopping for scoring depth to bolster his team’s hopes of ending its 12-year playoff drought.
But he won’t rush into any deals for quick-fixes, especially those that would cost him promising talent such as Jonathan Huberdeau or Jacob Markstrom.
Tallon said he’s looking at the “big picture” and isn’t interested in rental players. No word on whom he is targeting, but given the low number of sellers, he might not have much choice but to consider affordable, short-term options.
COYOTES NOT LOOKING FOR SHORT-TERM HELP
Recent comments by Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney suggests he won’t be busy at this year’s trade deadline.
Maloney told the Arizona Republic he’s never done short-term deals at the deadline and, with so few teams in sell mode, buyers will be forced to overspend to address their roster needs, something he’s unwilling to do.
The Coyotes GM said he likes the chemistry of his team as is. They’ve won eight of their past nine and sit seventh in the Western Conference, so it’s easy to understand Maloney’s reluctance to jump into the deadline trade market.
GET UP-TO-THE-SECOND UPDATES AND ANALYSIS ON TRADE DEADLINE DAY ALL FEB. 27 ON THN.COM.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and Kukla’s Korner.