BOSTON -- When the Columbus Blue Jackets visit Madison Square Garden on Sunday, the big buzz won't be about the return of former Ranger Vinny Prospal. The spotlight will be on Rick Nash, the star right wing who apparently is on the block, with the Blueshirts and other teams kicking the tires.
The NHL's trade deadline is Feb. 27 and the addition of the 6-4 Canadian Olympian, who has scored 40 or more goals twice and 30-plus goals six times in his nine-year career, could turn several teams into serious Stanley Cup contenders.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Jackets' brass has discussed trading Nash and has spoken to either Nash or Joe Resnick, his agent. Resnick has not commented.
The first issue for suitors: Nash, 27, has a no-movement clause in his contract, which has six years remaining and an annual cap hit of $7.8 million. The second is the asking price: At least a top forward, top prospect (possibly a goaltender) and a No. 1 draft pick. Among the other teams interested are the Flyers, Kings and Canucks, according to reports.
Another long-term contract wouldn't be easy for the Rangers to absorb. Brad Richards signed a nine-year, $60-million deal last July, and Henrik Lundqvist, Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi will be unrestricted free agents in two years. It is believed that the Jackets have asked for Brandon Dubinsky, No. 1 prospect Chris Kreider, currently at Boston College, a No. 1 pick and more for Nash.
Nash, who never has played in a playoff game, might waive his clause for the right team because the Jackets are foundering with a league-worst 17-34-6 record.
"When a team loses more rumors start surfacing," Nash told the Dispatch. "I've played my whole career here and it's a special place to me. So as of right now I'm a Blue Jacket."
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