Nash left out in the cold

Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash celebrates a goal against the Flames in Calgary, Alta., Dec. 1,...

Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash celebrates a goal against the Flames in Calgary, Alta., Dec. 1, 2011. (TODD KOROL/Reuters)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:41 AM ET

SUNRISE, FLA. - All you have to know about the dud that was the 2012 NHL trade deadline is that the biggest news revolved around the deal that didn't happen.

Rick Nash, the subject of most of the smoke and sparks going into the deadline, is still with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The clock is ticking, however, and it is almost guaranteed either he or Columbus general manager Scott Howson will be gone by the draft in June.

Howson fired a shot at his captain by revealing it was Nash who initiated the efforts to trade him. Sources said Nash's agent, Joe Resnick, approached the Jackets at the CHL Prospects Game four weeks ago with the request to be traded.

"With respect to Rick Nash, he approached us and asked us to consider trading him. We agreed to accommodate his request as long as we could get a deal that would provide us with cornerstone pieces to help us to compete for a Stanley Cup championship in the coming years," Howson said after the deadline had passed Monday.

"It did not happen by 3 o'clock today. This is too important to our franchise and our fans to do a deal that is not in our best interests."

Now we'll see what happens. Does Columbus ownership have a change of heart and back its captain? Bringing in a new coach and general manager who might be able to mend fences with Nash might be an option.

Or do we go through all this again at the draft as the Jackets set up a bidding war for Nash?

"One of them," a scout said of Howson and Nash, "is proven to sell a lot more tickets than the other."

Howson didn't flinch as it went down to the deadline, refusing to move off the reported price for Nash: A good roster player, a top prospect and a first-round draft pick.

"The price was high. I don't apologize for that. It had to be high," Howson said.

Playoff teams weren't willing to pay that price.

"You can't dismantle the organization," said New York Rangers GM Glen Sather, whose club is in first place in the Eastern Conference. Sather instead added John Scott to improve his club's toughness.

The San Jose Sharks, it is believed, refused to part with centre Logan Couture to make a Nash deal work. They opted to acquire depth forwards Daniel Winnik and T.J. Galiardi from the Colorado Avalanche.

So, it will get worse in Columbus before it gets better.

As far as the trades that did get made, the Nashville Predators added size and faceoff ability in Paul Gaustad from the Buffalo Sabres at the expense of a first-round pick and reunited Sergei Kostitsyn with brother Andrei from the Montreal Canadiens for a second-rounder and a fifth.

"(Playing the brothers together has) not even crossed my mind," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "I won't even do that, I don't think. I wouldn't break up the top line (Sergei Kostitsyn, Mike Fisher, Martin Erat), it has gone too well. I told Sergei, 'You know, don't worry about your brother coming in and playing in your spot or anything like that.' The first line's going good."

The Boston Bruins were also active, adding some veteran depth in forward Brian Rolston and defencemen Mike Mottau and Greg Zanon.

In a late deal, the Vancouver Canucks moved centre Cody Hodgson and defenceman Alexander Sulzer to the Buffalo Sabres for hulking forward Zack Kassian and defenceman Marc-Andre Gragnani.

That was the most intriguing deal of the day.

Hodgson is the best player in the deal. An offensive centre, he had hit the ceiling in Vancouver behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler in the middle. Kassian, 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, gives the Canucks more size, but you have to wonder, at 21, how much he is ready to contribute to an elite team on a Stanley Cup run. The Canucks also picked up veteran Sami Pahlsson from the Columbus Blue Jackets, but he has lost a step or two and you have to wonder how much he can contribute.

"I think we got more balance in our lineup, more diversified," Canucks GM Mike Gillis said, noting that his moves weren't motivated by the bruising loss to the Boston Bruins in last year's final. If you look at centre ice, we've got a lot of strength with a lot of veteran players there and the only real power forward we have on our team with that kind of size and speed would be David Booth. We now have a younger player, who's 21, who has that,"

"It's about balance and it's about being able to play in any situation and I think we're better able to play in any situation today then we were."

With a lot of the league's top players locked up in long-term deals, the pool of potential unrestricted free agents -- always the most coveted commodity at the deadline -- seems to be reduced in both numbers and star power every year. Or some just choose to exercise their no-movement clauses.

That's how you wind up with a non-trade being the big story of the trade deadline.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @CJ_Stevenson


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