PITTSBURGH -- Trade chatter, but no actual moves, seemed to be the trend of the day before Friday night's first round of the NHL draft.
The Rangers continued their pursuit of one of the marquee names on the trade block, led by Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash and Ducks winger Bobby Ryan. Columbus general manager Scott Howson told reporters here Thursday that he was not close to a deal for Nash, the disgruntled career Blue Jacket who would like to be moved sooner rather than later.
Howson said the field of teams interested in Nash has widened, but Nash has a no-trade clause and reportedly has not adjusted the short list of teams he'd be willing to go to. The Rangers and Sharks are believed to be on that list, though there was no indication from the Rangers side that the high asking price Howson has set is lowering to their liking.
Another big name who could be in trade play this weekend is Jordan Staal, who turned down a 10-year extension believed to be worth $60 million offered by the Penguins. Word around the league is that Staal, who has one year at $4 million left on his current deal, would like to play alongside brother Eric with the Hurricanes. The Rangers have another Staal brother, of course, and would be very interested in having Jordan join Marc.
The Islanders were more focused on their No. 4 selection in tonight's first round, though GM Garth Snow is believed to be open to trading either up or down, depending on how the picks ahead of the Islanders go. The Oilers are loaded with young forwards; if they are tempted to pick defenseman Ryan Murray, there could be a scramble to try to get to the No. 2 pick to grab winger Nail Yakupov, considered the top talent in the draft pool.
If Snow can't get his man at No. 4, he seems to be open to trading down to acquire extra picks and most likely scoop up one of the many defensemen ranked in the top 15 of scouting reports.
Once the first domino falls Friday, whether a major deal or a surprise first pick, some chaos may follow. As of Thursday night, though, there was only talk, a prelude perhaps to what's to come.