|The CBJ captain had 30 goals, 29 assists last season. (Getty Images)|
It's been far too quiet on the Western front where Rick Nash is still sitting patiently on the trading block. But now things are finally starting to bubble up again with the draft a week away in Pittsburgh. Considering the draft is a hot spot for trade activity with all the GMs present and thinking roster changes, it only seems natural that the mill starts spinning again.
NHL sources have told The Dispatch that as many as seven teams have had “significant” trade conversations with Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson about Nash during the past 10 days and that a handful of other clubs — three or four, maybe more — have “kicked the tires” to see what a deal might cost them.
Most of the teams known to be expressing interest are the ones that expressed interest at the February trade deadline.
The New York Rangers, stocked with young, promising forwards, still appear to be the most likely fit for Nash, and their desire might have been heightened during the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Rangers' 2.15 goals per game in the playoffs was the second-lowest figure of any club to advance past the first round.
There's a few things to digest here. The first is that possibly seven teams have had big-time talks with the Jackets. Howson has to love that if accurate, any semblance of a bidding war can afford him the opportunity to keep his asking price higher than the moon like it was at the trade deadline.
Secondly is seeing that the same customers who were rumored to be in line a few months back are still hanging around. The two new additions to the rumor mill are the Flyers, who always seem to be in a mood to trade, and the Carolina Hurricanes.
Remember one thing: Nash still has the ultimate power here with the trump card of veto power. If the Jackets agree to a deal with a team but Nash doesn't want to go there, he doesn't go there. So who knows whether or not the 'Canes would make that list. Moreover, do they have enough players/assets they'd be willing to move to land Nash? Well that's a question with every team.
All along the draft seemed like the most likely time for Nash to be traded when the deadline passed. But it could wait until after the July 1 free agency period too when the Jackets can assess who went where and target some of the teams that missed out on the free agents they wanted. Howson can then approach the vulnerable and desperate.
What's more in all of this is that Howson might have another asset he's looking to trade. According to Sportsnet, he's open to listening to offers for the No. 2 selection in the draft as well with the familiar caveat of "if it's the right deal."
Moral of the story? Somebody get Brian Burke on the line ...