First, Antoine Vermette was moved to the Phoenix Coyotes this week. Then Jeff Carter was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday evening.
Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson is far from done. He still would like to trade veteran Samuel Pahlsson and a few others off the Columbus roster before the Monday deadline. And, of course, he also has been listening to offers for Rick Nash.
But now that Carter has been shipped out, what are the chances of a Nash trade in the next four days? Howson did well to get offensive 25-year-old defenceman Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round pick (it's in 2012 if the Kings make the playoffs, if not it's 2013) from the offensively-challenged Kings.
The belief is that the asking price for Nash is an elite-level young player, a first-round pick and a prospect or two. That's not far off from what Howson landed for Carter.
There are different opinions out there as to whether Nash will be moved before Monday's deadline. Some say the asking price is too high. Others proclaim that if Howson waits until the draft, he'll have more teams to listen to. Right now, it appears that the New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks, Philadelphia Flyers, Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs (which player are the Maple Leafs not trying to get?) are in the mix for Nash.
It was eight months ago to the day, Howson acquired Carter from the Flyers. With Thursday's developments, Carter finally can smile again. He was not happy when the Philadelphia Flyers traded him to Columbus last June after he agreed to a $58-million, 11-year pact to stay in Philadelphia in November 2010.
"Yeah, I think Jeff struggled with this right from the outset," Howson said. "He made a long-term commitment in Philadelphia, it was hard for him to deal with this trade."
Carter went underground for a few days after that trade was made last summer before he visited his new hockey home. About the only time he smiled with the Blue Jackets was when he celebrated his 500th career game with a hat trick against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. Now he'll be reunited with his former Philadelphia teammate, Mike Richards, in Los Angeles.
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi doesn't seem bothered about the reputation of Carter and Richards burning the midnight oil on the party scene when they were together in Philadelphia and the fact that Carter has a $5.2-million salary cap hit until the 2021-22 season.
Lombardi checked with Kings assistant coach John Stevens about Carter and received an endorsement on Carter's character. Plus, the Kings desperately needed a goal scorer. They're last in the league in offence this season.
"It's not easy to go out and find a guy that's 27 years old who's a 40-goal scorer," Lombardi said.
"They [Richards and Carter] are classic Canadian boys dreaming of winning the Stanley Cup."
Lombardi remarked that this deal was in the works for about a week, and that he's not done. There has been speculation that the Kings GM has made captain Dustin Brown and backup goalie Jonathan Bernier available.
If Carter passes his medical on Friday, he's expected to play for the Kings at home against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
In Johnson, who has a $4.36-million salary cap hit and is under contract until 2018, the Blue Jackets picked up a go-to guy for their blue line. He was stuck behind Drew Doughty in Los Angeles and should flourish with more responsibility.
Johnson stated that he was excited to be playing in "a big sports city." He knows Columbus well from his visits to Ohio State as a member of the rival Michigan Wolverines.
How long Johnson will be playing with Nash, however, remains to be seen.
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