The news the Columbus Blue Jackets were entertaining offers for star right winger Rick Nash sent a jolt of excitement through a rumor mill that had grown stale from a stagnant trade market.
It’s rumored Nash, who has a no-movement clause, has provided a “wish list” and Damien Cox of The Toronto Star said he could “confirm” the Toronto Maple Leafs were one of the teams included. The Columbus Dispatch reported the Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers and San Jose Sharks are also believed to be on the list. Other clubs rumored to have interest are the Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers.
The Dallas Stars weren’t listed, but GM Joe Nieuwendyk admitted to contacting Howson regarding Nash and said he expects a number of his peers to do the same. Nieuwendyk declined to confirm if he was seriously pursuing Nash.
One would assume there would be considerable excitement among the punditry covering the teams Nash could join, but early returns suggest otherwise.
Mike Zeisberger of The Toronto Sun believes Leafs GM Brian Burke should pursue Nash – regardless if it wipes out Burke’s stockpile of young talent – but Howard Berger of The National Post says Burke’s focus should be on improving his goaltending.
Nash would undeniably be a star with the Leafs, but he won’t address their specific need for scoring up the middle. Adding his expensive salary would also ensure center Mikhail Grabovski would be lost to free agency (sorry, Leafs fans, he won’t accept a “hometown discount” to stay in Toronto), further weakening them at center.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post expressed concern the Blue Jackets’ asking price would hurt the Rangers’ chemistry, writing that Howson could ask for center Derek Stepan and/or defenseman Ryan McDonagh, along with prospect left winger Chris Kreider and maybe even center Brandon Dubinsky.
Brooks also believed left winger Artem Anisimov and puck-moving defenseman Michael Del Zotto would be of interest to the Jackets.
Boston-area scribes called on the Bruins to pass on Nash, citing the potential asking price (goaltender Tuukka Rask, center David Krejci or left winger Milan Lucic, prospect defenseman Dougie Hamilton and a first round pick) as too costly.
The Canucks are considered by some observers a prime trade partner, as they could offer up goalie Cory Schneider as the centerpiece of a package offer for Nash, but Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province pointed out the Canucks couldn’t afford Nash’s salary.
The Canucks already have a considerable chunk (currently $31.6 million) of their annual average payroll invested in the Sedins, Roberto Luongo, Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis, who also have no-trade clauses in their respective contracts.
Don’t expect the Detroit Red Wings to plunge into the Nash sweepstakes. The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press reported Wings GM Ken Holland is more interested in rental players who can help his club down the stretch and in the post-season.
As for the Philadelphia Flyers, Sam Carchidi of Philly.com cited a source claiming Flyers management hadn’t had any conversations with the Blue Jackets regarding Nash.
The potential asking price for Nash, plus his average annual cap hit of $7.8 million through 2018, has thrown a scare into most analysts. We’ll find out in the next 10 days if GMs feel the same.
In non-Rick Nash-rumor news:
• Forget about the Edmonton Oilers conducting a deadline “fire sale.” GM Steve Tambellini re-signed defenseman Andy Sutton earlier this week to a one-year extension and said he has no intention of trading left winger Ryan Smyth or center Sam Gagner.
Tambellini is also talking contract extension with Ales Hemsky, but the right winger’s desire for a long-term deal could be his ticket out of Edmonton.
• Minnesota Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky could be on the move soon, but it might not be to New Jersey after all.
Earlier this week, it was reported Zidlicky had agreed to waive his no-trade clause to join the Devils, but Wild GM Chuck Fletcher claimed he’d never been approached by the Zidlicky camp about that. Fletcher surely wants to move the unhappy blueliner, but on his own terms. He may shop around for other options that would net a better return before being cornered into a deal with the Devils. It’s also possible Fletcher could hang onto Zidlicky until the summer when Zidlicky’s trade clause becomes limited, providing him with more potential trade partners.
• Montreal Canadiens left winger Andrei Kostitsyn said he hasn’t asked for a trade yet, but suggested the next couple of games will determine his course of action.
Kostitsyn, an impending UFA, had expressed a willingness to accept less than market value to remain in Montreal, but in recent games he’s been in coach Randy Cunneyworth’s doghouse.
• Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has become a “seller” and made his first move by shipping center Dominic Moore to the San Jose Sharks Thursday.
Gritty left winger Ryan Malone has been rumored as a trade candidate, but it’s believed Yzerman’s preference is to retain him.
One Bolt who’ll be changing addresses soon is defenseman Pavel Kubina, as Yzerman reportedly asked him to provide a list of preferred destinations.
It’s thought the Rangers would be on Kubina’s list, as he’s previously played for Rangers coach John Tortorella when he was the Lightning’s bench boss several years ago.
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.