Calm before deadline storm
GMs get their dial fingers ready
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|Blue Jackets fans show their support for Rick Nash at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Penn., Feb. 26, 2012. (JAMIE SABAU/Getty Images/AFP)
OTTAWA - The calm before the storm?
It’s Decision Day for the NHL’s 30 general managers with the trade deadline set for 3 p.m. (ET) Monday.
Columbus Blue Jackets winger Rick Nash, the biggest prize on the market, hadn’t been moved as of late Sunday night.
If the unhappy Nash isn’t moved then it doesn’t mean the deadline is going to be a dud, but he’s the biggest piece to the puzzle and the contenders have to decide just what kind of shake-up they want to make before the post-season.
If Sunday was the final game in a Jackets uniform for Nash, he had an appropriate farewell with a goal in the club’s 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Consol Energy Center.
Nash spoke briefly with reporters following the game.
“There have been so many rumours, so much speculation, it’s been tough on everyone,” said Nash, who wouldn’t comment on statements by his agent, Joe Resnick, that he wants out of Columbus.
“It’s been a great time living in Columbus. I’m a (Jacket) today and we’re going to do everything we can to move forward as a team. Like I said the other day, these fans deserve a winning team. They’re the ones that have been the most patient.”
But, the number of suitors could be dropping.
The Rangers were the top contender for Nash, but the Jackets refused to budge from their demand of either defenceman Michael Del Zotto or defenceman Ryan McDonagh.
New York indicated late Sunday that they were out of the running.
The Maple Leafs and Sharks both remain interested. San Jose GM Doug Wilson isn’t convinced he can make his best offer at the moment. Ideally, the Sharks would like this deal to take until the summer. The Leafs may have bigger needs.
“Tough deal to make at this time of year,” a league executive said on Sunday. “The Jackets want a lot, they’re holding out for more and you have to wonder if they’re going to get it. Everybody will be watching to see if he goes.”
The Jackets can play hardball because they may get their best deal in the summer.
AROUND THE BOARDS
All eyes are going to be on the Leafs. There needs to be some kind of shakeup with the club sitting on the outside looking in, doesn’t there? The Leafs’ No. 1 priority has to be acquiring a goalie, especially after Saturday’s comments by coach Ron Wilson. The top three netminders on the market are Nikolai Khabibulin (Edmonton), Evgeni Nabokov (Islanders) and Josh Harding (Minnesota). Khabibulin has won a Stanely Cup and Nabokov has talked about an extension with the Isles. The Isles have insisted they aren’t going to deal Nabokov ... Expect the Wings to try to be active. They’d like to add a forward after getting defenceman Kyle Quincey from the Avalanche. The Wings will likely show interest in Columbus’ Samuel Pahlsson and Islanders forward P.A. Parenteau. The Isles wanted to wait until after Sunday’s game in Ottawa before deciding what to do.
THIS N’ THAT
Dallas defenceman Sheldon Souray could be moved. The word Sunday was that the Blackhawks and Bruins, both looking for a veteran presence, were in discussions with Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. Dallas isn’t afraid to unload veterans. The Bruins really need to get some help on their power play. The Hawks badly need more depth on the blue line ... The Habs are trying to move Tomas Plekanec but his agent Rick Curran denied Sunday that the centre had been asked to waive his no-move clause to clear the way for a deal. Montreal won’t move Plekanec unless they’re able to get another winger to replace him in return. Speculate away. Curran told several media outlets that Plekanec wants to stay ... You have to wonder what happens to Ottawa backup Alex Auld after the club acquired Ben Bishop. Auld, making $1 million, likely isn’t going to play much again this season unless goalie Craig Anderson is out for an extended period. The Senators would have gone for Harding, but it was going to cost the club a player and a prospect. No interest in that type of deal.
AND ANOTHER THING
Carolina GM Jim Rutherford could be busy. He signed defenceman Tim Gleason and centre Tuomo Ruutu to extensions, but he has still got decisions to make on defenceman Bryan Allen and defenceman Jaroslav Spacek. Several teams are looking for help, but Rutherford insisted he won’t be giving players away. “We’re not going to trade players just to trade them. If there’s strong value to an offer, we’ll consider it,” he told the Raleigh News and Observer. Rutherford has ruled out signing Allen to an extension ... Question: If Edmonton forward Ryan Smyth doesn’t get a deal done by the deadline, will he be dealt? It doesn’t sound like GM Steve Tambellini will deal him ... The Oilers did have a lot of interest with Rangers, Kings and Bruins kicking tires. Smyth is looking for a two or three year deal ... The Flyers aren’t going to make a trade Monday are they?