Bidding war setting up for Nash
Rob Longley, QMI Agency
|22. Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets: Sniper netted 259 goals in first eight seasons but has always lacked supporting cast. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)
Say this about Columbus Blue Jackets general manager, Scott Howson: He’s handling the Rick Nash game like a professional poker player.
Howson may not move his prized forward by next Monday’s trade deadline or even during the summer, but with all the attention on him, the GM has certainly lined up the suitors in ample time to create a big-stakes bidding war.
Much like Brad Richards was in last summer’s free-agency period, Nash is the runaway darling of the trade deadline market, obviously, and rival GMs are getting in line to woo Howson with the multi-player packages it’s going to take.
On Saturday, it was a summit with the Flyers’ Paul Holmgren and if reports out of Philly are to be believed, his team vaulted into major player status.
On Sunday, there were multiple reports that Leafs’ general manager Brian Burke caught up with Howson in New York, though it wasn’t a scheduled meeting. Apparently Burke ran into Howson and the two GMs talked. On Sunday night, Howson was to be at Madison Square Garden for the Jackets game against the Rangers where the GM of the top team in the Eastern Conference, Glen Sather, was likely going to have his say.
The Rangers, Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings certainly are among the more notable shoppers and with more surely to be in the fray, Howson has created the ideal situation to attract the blockbuster action it will take to acquire the big forward. The more in the auction ring the merrier for the bottoming out Jackets as a bidding war is sure to ensue.
Of course the more that get involved, the more the Leafs may be a long shot depending on how many assets Burke will want to surrender with his team barely clinging to the final playoff spot in the East.
In any event, you can be sure the Nash dialogue will carry us right up to the Feb. 27 deadline.
The Nash-ional Spotlight
Nash met with the media prior to Sunday’s Jackets game at MSG and wasn’t willing to tip his hand as to whether the Rangers were on the list of teams he would waive his no-trade clause for. When asked how he was dealing with the pressure, Nash brought up his experience at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. “I played the Olympics a couple of times in Canada, so this is really nothing compared to that,” Nash said. On whether he would rather have the deal done at the deadline or in the summer, Nash offered another “no comment.” ... If the Flyers are to land Nash, the word is that rookie centre Sean Couturier will have to be a part of the package. Couturier, who was selected eighth overall last June, would just be a part of it, however, as Howson would likely want a combination of veterans that would include one or both of forwards Scott Hartnell and James van Riemsdyk and possibly another young forward, Brayden Schenn ... If it comes to which team is most desperate for Nash, the Kings could well be the leader. The Kings may be tied for eighth in the West, but have scored the fewest goals in the NHL and are desperate for the type of production Nash would bring.
Whether it was savvy dealing or bailing too early on his team’s season, Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman wasn’t about to wait around for next Monday. His moves of Dominic Moore and Pavel Kubina certainly suggests Yzerman was anxious to get his jump on the competition ... The Kubina deal to the Flyers — for minor-league winger Jon Kalinski and a couple of picks in 2013 — was easy for Yzerman given Kubina will be a UFA this summer. The Flyers are obviously hoping a big body like Kubina can clear things in front of the net and help make up for the shoddy goaltending that won’t go away ... Of course, just as Yzerman sends the signal that he’s open for business, his team wins two in a row to get to 58 points. That puts them just six behind the Leafs with a game in hand ... Kubina had this to say Sunday after cleaning out his locker in Tampa: “I think the Lightning are getting a lot for me. I’m 34 years old and they got a second and a fourth-round pick, so that’s a lot for me.”
This and That
Have to believe the Sabres will be a seller sooner than later — though Sunday’s big home win over Pittsburgh could delay the process. Derek Roy, believed to be a possible Sabres asset on the move, certainly helped market himself with a three-point game vs. the Pens. “I’m not a GM,” Roy said when asked about the trade talk. “I have no idea what they’re going to do.” ... Despite the ongoing debacle in the Flyers net, Holmgren said Sunday his team won’t seek to add another. “I like our goalies,” Holmgren said, presumably with a straight face. “They believe they are going to play better. They are not happy with their performances either. They both realize they have to play better.” ... By the end of the week, Colorado could be in selling mode and if that’s the case, Avalanche goaltender J-S Giguere is likely to be available. With a light cap hit of $1.25 million, Giguere would provide excellent goaltending depth for a contender.