Soon after the Lin-sanity petered out at Madsion Square Garden late Sunday afternoon, outside the Columbus Blue Jackets locker room, there was a taste of Nash-ville.
Rick Nash, a 27-year-old elite power forward who has six years remaining on his contract, which includes a no-trade clause, has been the subject of trade rumors for more than a week. And with the last-place Jackets stopping by to play the Rangers, widely considered one of the suitors, Nash---naturally a bit tight-lipped---addressed a media contingent of about 20.
Asked directly if he would prefer to stay in Columbus or go elsewhere---either by next Monday’s trade deadline or during the summer, Nash said: “It’s going to take care of itself. I’m a Blue Jacket right now and we’re playing great hockey, so its fun to be around. It’s been a tough year for us, but we’ve been winning games.”
Nash and his agent, Joe Resnick, have provided the Blue Jackets a list of clubs to which he would approve a trade. The Rangers, Bruins, Kings, Leafs, Canucks and Sharks are believed to be on the list (Nash declined to comment on the Rangers), but general manager Scott Howson apparently is talking to other clubs as well, about other players, including Jeff Carter. Two reports yesterday said Howson met with Leafs general manager Brian Burke at a Manhattan hotel Sunday to discuss potential deals.
The Blue Jackets have been scouting the Rangers and the AHL’s Connecticut Whale. The price is expected to be high: At least one young impact player, not necessarily a goaltender, two prospects and a high draft pick. It is believed Howson is asking for forward Brandon Dubinsky---in whom there was been previous interest---as well as a regular defenseman and a No. 1 pick in the June entry draft. General Manager Glen Sather is serious about pursuing Nash, who has recorded 277 goals and 527 points in 650 regular season games. Eighty-one of those goals came on the power play, a struggling special-teams component for the Blueshirts.
But the Rangers are said to be reluctant to part with defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto or the No. 1 prospect in the system Boston College junior Chris Kreider. The Canucks, with Cory Schneider, and the Kings, with Jonathan Bernier, have netminder prospects that could help Columbus, but perhaps another trade package could land one of them. “We want value,” a source told the Columbus Dispatch. “Doesn’t have to be (a goaltender.)”
Nash said the issue has “been distracting for our team”, but that he has not been affected. “I don’t really follow all those rumors,” he said. “I worry about right now, that’s all I’m worried about. I played my whole career here, that’s how I’ve been dealing with it and the game I have to play in two hours.”
Questions on whether he could envision living or playing in a big market such as New York or if he preferred that the issue ended in a week and didn’t drag on into the summer elicited a simple: “No comment.”\
The bearded, 6-foot-4 Ontario native did say that yesterday’s media horde wasn’t a problem, noting that it was nothing compared to being a member of the Canadian Olympic team in 2006 and 2010. And it wasn’t even close to“Lin-sanity.”