Nash may wish to broaden trade list | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaNash may wish to broaden trade list

Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 | 10:16 AM

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Rick Nash has 280 goals and 531 points in 654 games with the Blue Jackets. (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images) Rick Nash has 280 goals and 531 points in 654 games with the Blue Jackets. (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

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The sense is the Columbus Blue Jackets hope disgruntled superstar Rick Nash will broaden his choices on the short list of teams he is willing to waive his no-trade clause to join.  

Philadelphia sports fans will tell you Ed Wade wasn't the best general manager, but the former Phillies/Astros boss owns a wicked tongue. Twice, he traded franchise pitchers (Curt Schilling, Roy Oswalt) who demanded to be moved despite having movement protection in their contracts.

In each situation, Wade delivered the same line: "His contract has a no-trade clause, not a trade-me clause." (He also ripped Schilling with the now-classic he is a "horse every fifth day and a horse's ass the other four." But that's another story).

Anyway, this brings us to Rick Nash.

Like his baseball brethren, the Columbus captain wants out and controls the outcome. Over the weekend, things turned slightly ugly with agent Joe Resnick saying the number of teams Nash will agree to go to won't increase after the season. Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson responded by revealing it was Nash who asked to be traded.

It looks bad, but things are going to cool down. You can expect Tuesday that Nash will address this situation one last time before announcing he will not discuss it further. Now that the deadline is passed, there really isn't much point for Howson or Resnick to talk, either.

So where do we go from here?

Nash may want out, but he's a quiet professional. Causing trouble is not his style and he'll play the next six weeks without complaint. Howson and the Blue Jackets don't have a ton of control over Nash's destination, but they do control the process. And several sources indicate both Nash and Resnick -- despite hope -- believed it was unlikely Columbus would trade its franchise player at this time.

But the Blue Jackets understand he wants to go and don't seem all that interested in trying to change his mind. Despite the recent sniping, they are grateful for his decade of service. Nash never caused a headache playing for eight different coaches on a team that is 65 games under .500 during his time and owns precisely zero playoff wins.

The sense is Columbus hopes Nash will broaden his choices. And no matter what was said last weekend, things can change, especially in someone who burns to leave. Nash wants to win more than anything else. From what I understand, all the teams on Nash's list are legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, except Toronto.

Maybe in watching the playoffs, he will see another team that makes a charge and say, "I could see myself there." You've got to figure the champion won't be interested, but other teams will be.

Ducks GM Bob Murray wasn't talking specifically about Nash, but had the money quote Monday night to Helene Elliott of The Los Angeles Times: "It opens up much more at the draft ... all of a sudden, you have more people in the market or trying to make a major move because they've had playoff failures or they haven't made the playoffs, whereas, in a move right now, you can only talk to certain teams because of the cap and money."

That's what Howson is counting on. But the Blue Jackets have to be fair, too. This shouldn't drag into, say, August. It's possible they wait until after July 1 to see if some team needing scoring panics after losing out on New Jersey Devils superstar Zach Parise.

Columbus wanted to wait. That's fine. It was the right thing for a franchise that cannot afford to make a mistake. But Nash shouldn't have to sit around until football season.

30 THOUGHTS

1. Nashville made a big pitch for Nash, one that apparently did not include Ryan Ellis. Columbus seems content with a defence of Jack Johnson, James Wisniewski, Nikita Nikitin, Marc Methot, Fedor Tyutin and John Moore. The Jackets are now going after scoring as the key to this deal. There were two things working against the Predators: Don't think he would waive to go there; And if Columbus really wanted to napalm its fan base, sending Nash to Tennessee would do it.

2. Other teams believed the New York Rangers made the only offer Columbus considered close. The New York Post's Larry Brooks reported it involved Brandon Dubinsky, prospects Tim Erixon, Christian Thomas and JT Miller along with a first-rounder. Assuming that's the case, I would guess the Blue Jackets turned it down because there wasn't enough current NHL scoring.

3. One GM thought San Jose could've closed a Nash trade if it still had Charlie Coyle, who was traded to Minnesota in the Brent Burns deal. "That guy is a stud," he said.

4. No complaints here with Nashville trading a first-round pick for Paul Gaustad. The time is now for David Poile and the Predators. However, one interesting point was made about the big centre. Did he suffer any lasting injury in this Saturday night fight with Brandon Prust? He played 14:35 afterward, which is a little lower than usual.

5. Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier flew with the team to Anaheim after the deadline, so we couldn't find out on our HNIC Radio Trade Deadline Special how hard he laughed when other teams asked him about Thomas Vanek.

6. I'll admit to a man-crush with Cody Hodgson's game, so I'm not the best person to properly evaluate the Vancouver/Buffalo trade. That, and I haven't seen a ton of Zack Kassian. But contacted several NHL types to ask their thoughts, I was amazed by the wildly divergent opinion. There was no consensus. For everyone who liked Hodgson, there was someone who questioned whether he really is a top-six forward. For everyone who said that Kassian's got Milan Lucic written all over him, there was someone who said he's not in Lucic's league. It's going to be fascinating to see how this turns out.

7. There was real surprise Buffalo dealt Kassian. Not so much for Hodgson -- no room for him to play centre in Vancouver's lineup. While Canucks GM Mike Gillis wouldn't confirm Hodgson asked for a trade, several other teams were under the impression he had done so -- recently. Hodgson sounded shocked in his interviews, though.

8. Why was there surprise about Kassian? The Sabres don't really have many players or prospects like him. If there is one concern about his game, it's that he can frustrate coaches by not always using his size and physical skills to best advantage -- although one scout said there's been improvement in that area lately.

9. Another scout on Marc-Andre Gragnani: "Great on the power play, but otherwise a very risky player ... still learning to defend."

10. Man-Crush II: David Backes of the St. Louis Blues. He scored points with how hard he competed last week against Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. Boston won the game, but "no one competes like that against Chara," said one observer.

11. Another real good "hockey deal" was the Tom Gilbert/Nick Schultz trade. While both filled a need for their new teams, I got the sense the Minnesota Wild were sending a message. By dealing their most experienced body (743 games), the organization was warning its players that getting comfortable with losing is unacceptable.

12. Why didn't more goalies get traded? Several GMs said no difference-makers were available. The New York Islanders weren't getting rid of Evgeni Nabokov. Cory Schneider of the Canucks was all but untouchable. Jonathan Bernier was going to cost Los Angeles a king's ransom. That didn't leave much, especially at inflated prices.

13. Toronto and Philadelphia sniffed around Wild goaltender Josh Harding. Don't think either team got overly serious and one GM thought Harding was a poor match for the run-and-gun Maple Leafs. "He needs structure to be successful," the GM said.

14. A couple of teams thought Steve Ott was destined for Toronto, but it sounds like Dallas changed its mind.

15. On Feb. 18, Keith Aulie lined up against either the Sedin twins or the Ryan Kesler line for the first 50 minutes of the Toronto/Vancouver game, won 6-2 by the Canucks. Two days later, he was back in the minors. Another week and he was gone.

16. I hate calling the Detroit Red Wings "losers" for any reason, but the organization has to be disappointed it couldn't add forward depth. It wisely wouldn't part with Brendan Smith, while Jakub Kindl wasn't enough to get what it wanted. Detroit didn't have a first-rounder to get Gaustad and chose not to match what the Canucks paid for Sammy Pahlsson. It's believed the Red Wings also looked at Colorado's David Jones.

17. It will be interesting to see where the relationship between Dustin Brown and the Kings goes from here. As mentioned on The Hotstove, Kings GM Dean Lombardi talked about Brown with a small group of teams (Toronto, Boston, possibly Pittsburgh). When it got out -- not exactly a productive development for Los Angeles -- Lombardi was besieged by interested suitors. He told them Brown was not for sale and the deadline passed by without incident. The captain made an emphatic statement about staying with his hat trick against Chicago, but the final chapter is yet to be written.
 
18. A lot of this surrounds the Kings captaincy, which appears headed for Mike Richards. This is a difficult play to make. Removing the "C" is a tricky, tricky proposition (see Trevor Linden, Mike Modano). One place where it's worked? San Jose with Patrick Marleau. The Sharks did everything possible to make it as easy as possible on him. Sharks GM Doug Wilson and head coach Todd McLellan had a long-time relationships with Marleau, too. In the short term, Brown wasn't happy no one told him what was going on.

19. Before landing Jeff Carter from Columbus, the Kings did some research into their offensive trouble. As of Tuesday, for example, if you ranked each team's leading scorer from No. 1 (Evgeni Malkin, 78 points) to No. 30 (Nash, 43 points), Anze Kopitar of the Kings is tied for 20th among leading point-getters. He looked awesome at the start of the season, too. Justin Williams ranks 26th among second-ranked scorers and Brown is tied for 25th among those in third.

20. Another thing the Kings determined was they were among the lowest-scoring teams in what Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock likes to call the "greasy areas," ie. in front of the net. Dustin Penner gets most of the blame, but it's a team-wide issue.

21. I think the Kings considered Andrei Kostitsyn a little while ago, but decided against it.

22. Lots of abuse heaped on the Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes for the Tuomo Ruutu (four Years, $19 million US) and Ales Hemsky (two years, $10 million US) contracts. In a vacuum, they don't make sense, but there is a legitimate method to what seems like madness. If those players leave, they must be replaced and both teams have trouble attracting free agents. The Oilers, for example, threw $60 million US at Marian Hossa in 2008, only to watch him accept 11 per cent of that figure to play one year in Detroit.

23. If you're forced to overpay, better the "devil you know" as opposed to the "devil you don't." Just ask Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford about Tomas Kaberle. Hemsky's shorter term doesn't hurt the Oilers as much, while Ruutu is 29 years old, which is a reasonable age (although it would be nice if he could stay healthy).

24. For all this stuff about how Mikhail Grabovski's stick company has screwed up his pattern, I heard last week he's tried 145 different ones this year and can't find any he likes.

25. I loved Robin Lehner's response to the Ben Bishop trade -- 28 saves in a 5-2 win over the Islanders. In this business, a competitive nature is an essential skill. If you can't handle the team acquiring another goalie, you aren't cut out to be successful.

26. I have never heard anything bad about Tomas Plekanec from teammates or coaches in Montreal. During the 2010 playoff run, he accepted a more defensive role that led to criticism about his point production, but didn't complain about it. The weekend news that he'd consider waiving his no-trade -- denied by agent Rick Curran -- comes from speculation he's not happy with his linemates. It's been such a miserable season in Montreal that I'd be careful about judging players solely on this year.

27. Washington Capitals GM George McPhee's decision not to make rental moves at the deadline makes it obvious he doesn't see a winning hand. Three non-Ovechkin reasons: Washington dropped from fourth to 19th (so far) in goals against; Mike Green still looks sore after missing 47 games; and Nicklas Backstrom remains out with a concussion. One has got to think McPhee lacks optimism on the possibility of Backstrom's return.

28. McPhee had an interesting line about his players: "The same guys who played hard for Bruce [Boudreau] are playing hard for Dale [Hunter]."
 
29. The Sharks just returned from a 2-6-1 road trip on which six players -- Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Dan Boyle and Brent Burns -- scored 19 of San Jose's 24 goals. Four of the remaining five goals came in one game. Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi aren't big scorers, but the big boys need help.

30. I watched the ceremony for Al MacInnis before Monday's St. Louis/Calgary game and found it, well, weird. To me, MacInnis is the best player in Flames history. I felt bad for him having to answer questions about being the first to be honoured as "Forever a Flame" as opposed to having his number retired like everyone else.

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