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Line in sand on Nash? Forward market thins

Wrote this last night for today's editions and discussed this and more trade deadline and prospect info earlier yesterday on the live chat, which you can re-play on
               With just five days left until the NHL trade deadline, the market for forwards who can add some punch to a Stanley Cup contender, which the Rangers believe they are, continues to dry.
               Rick Nash and Jeff Carter of the Columbus Blue Jackets, high-priced scorers with long-term deals, remain the biggest names on the block, according to reports, but the demands to exchange an impact player, top prospects and a No. 1 pick has kept some teams at arm’s length.  
               And there appears to be growing sentiment that the Blue Jackets brass could wait until June’s entry draft, when teams who have been knocked out of the playoffs might be willing to up the ante.
               The Rangers have discussed the possibility of acquiring Nash, 27, an elite power forward who carries a $7.8 million annual cap hit, but are reluctant to include young gems such as Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto, or No. 1 prospect Chris Kreider of Boston College, in any package.
               In the meantime, some other forwards went off the board yesterday, squeezing the Rangers’ choices even more.
               Tuomo Ruutu received a four-year, $19-million contract extension from the Carolina Hurricanes. And with the competitive Phoenix Coyotes signaling that they are buyers rather than sellers with the acquisition of Antoine Vermette from the Blue Jackets, cross Shane Doan and Ray Whitney off the list of potential deadline-day swaps with Eastern teams such as the conference-leading Rangers, who were off yesterday and face the Islanders on Friday.                
               Teemu Selanne seems to prefer to play out his twilight years in Anaheim, and the Ducks, who will need a blistering finish to make the playoff cut, apparently will not move Bobby Ryan, at least until after the season.
               So, by default, the prominent, if lower-tier, names left are Edmonton’s Ryan Smyth and Ales Hemsky, Buffalo’s Derek Roy and Colorado’s Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk, who might command higher prices from teams such as the Rangers by the theory of supply and demand. The Los Angeles Kings, for example, are craving offense and the defending Cup champion Bruins have struggled and are missing key forwards Nathan Horton and Rich Peverly.
              Two unrestricted free-agent depth defensemen are believed to be on Rangers radar, according to the buzz among some agents and NHL insiders: Colorado’s Shane O’Brien and Montreal’s Chris Campoli. O’Brien, 28, has size (6-3, 230), is earning just $1.1 million.The Rangers have had interest in Campoli, 27, the former Islander whose annual salary is $1.75 million, in the past.

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