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Conundrum in Columbus

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The focus around the league is on the ugly saga of the sad-sack Columbus Blue Jackets, who continue to flounder at the bottom of the Western Conference.

While most of the attention surrounds the growing possibility GM Scott Howson and/or coach Scott Arniel will be replaced, the club's ongoing struggles has given rise to trade rumors.

CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday during the “Hotstove” intermission segment on Hockey Night in Canada other teams had “kind of asked” about the availability of right winger Rick Nash.

The Columbus captain has a full no-movement clause in his contract up to the end of 2014-15, but Nash has no intention of seeking a trade and the team has no plans to move him.

Yahoo Sports columnist Kelly Friesen was told by an NHL scout the Blue Jackets might have interest in Philadelphia backup Sergei Bobrovsky, but was told by a Flyers reporter Bobrovsky won't be moving anytime soon.

If things don't improve for the Blue Jackets, odds are they’ll make changes in management and/or coaching before they consider trading. There is no magic deal that can save their season.

FLYERS LOOKING TO FLIP?

Speaking of the Flyers, the presence of GM Paul Holmgren and two of his staff at last Tuesday's Anaheim-Washington game left tongues wagging over the possibility Holmgren is planning a trade with one of those teams.

With Chris Pronger, Daniel Briere, Brayden Schenn and Matt Read sidelined, it was speculated Holmgren was shopping for depth on his injury-ravaged roster.

The Philadelphia Daily News, however, reported Holmgren was with his team in Buffalo, while a source “familiar with the Flyers thinking” said there were no plans afoot to bolster the roster.

Holmgren has garnered a well-deserved reputation for pulling off significant deals, despite having limited cap space to work with, so his presence - real or anticipated - at games involving other teams gets attention around the league.

Flyers left winger Scott Hartnell is often the target of trade rumors, which was certainly the case when he struggled early in the season. But in recent weeks, Hartnell has been playing on a line with Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr, which has rejuvenated his performance, scoring 10 points in six games leading into Saturday's 9-2 demolition over Columbus.

As long as the Flyers bump against the salary cap, Hartnell will remain a subject of trade speculation, but his improved performance should keep the rumormongers quiet for a while.

WINGS DEALING IN PROSPECTS?

The Detroit Red Wings recent six-game losing skid led ESPN's Craig Custance to ask GM Ken Holland if he'd consider shaking things up with a trade, but Holland believes it's too early for such a drastic measure.

Holland hopes to be in a position where he can shop aggressively near the trade deadline. He pointed out his club is deep with prospects, prompting Custance to speculate if the Wings GM would consider shopping his 2012 first round pick.

ANY TAKERS FOR MCCABE?

A number of teams are believed to be in the market for blueline depth, so one would assume they'd be knocking down the door of unrestricted free agent Bryan McCabe.

But as Sportsnet's Jeff Marek noted, McCabe received numerous tryout offers in the off-season and a legitimate offer to join a Western Conference club, but was unwilling to move his family west.

McCabe and his family live in Florida, which significantly limits his options if he wants to play this season. The Tampa Bay Lightning are among the clubs believed to be seeking blueline depth, but it's not known if they’ve contacted McCabe.

As Marek suggested, McCabe's NHL career may be over.

Trade Talk addresses the biggest rumors being discussed online and appears weekly 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.

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