After two weeks of speculation, Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash is staying put after all. Nash reportedly gave Columbus a small list of teams that he would be willing to play for, and ultimately no deal was struck.
After Monday’s trade deadline had passed, GM Scott Howson dropped a bombshell by saying Nash had asked for a trade in mid-January.
“He approached us and asked to consider trading him,” Howson said. “We agreed to accommodate his request as long as we could get a deal that would provide us with cornerstone pieces to help us compete for a Stanley Cup championship over the coming years. It did not happen.”
Nash’s agent said over the weekend to TSN that his client was looking forward to a deal and that the number of teams on the list would not change in the summer.
The teams that were most rumored in the Nash deal were the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks, and Nashville Predators. It is unknown if any of those teams were on Nash’s list.
Insiders from around the league reported that the asking price from Howson was too high. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that the Rangers made a “mammoth” offer to the Jackets which Howson declined.
“(The price) is high, that is all I am going to say,” Howson said.
Howson added that the he raised the asking price for Nash over the weekend.
Howson said that once the 3 p.m. deadline passed, he talked to Nash.
“The conversation was about five minutes in length,” Howson said. “I ended with saying that ‘I am doing my job to the best of my ability here Rick and I hope you respect that’ and he was great. He is a quality person.”
Howson was asked about the possibility of trading away the franchise’s lone all-star caliber player before the 2013 NHL All-Star game hosted by Columbus. Howson responded with, “I guess we’ll have to have other all-stars.”
Nash’s numbers have taken a slow decline since the 2008-09 season when the Jackets made their only playoff appearance. That season, he had 79 points. The last two seasons, he had 67 and 66 points respectively. This year, he is on pace for 57 points.
Whether the Blue Jackets can move past the last two weeks of rumors still remain a mystery. It is expected that rumors of a possible Nash trade will start to reignite approaching June’s NHL draft.
“Teams are reluctant at this stage for two reasons,” said Howson, “one is the salary cap space and the other is restructuring your team. This was going to be a significant trade if one was able to pull it off.””
With or without Nash, it is clear the Blue Jackets aren’t interested in a multi-year rebuild effort. The emphasis is on winning and winning now.
“There is no reason this has to be a four or five year process,” Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger said. “I still plan on five years of winning here. Look at Ottawa could be back in the playoffs. There are a lot of examples… With pieces like Jack (Johnson), we have high picks coming, these are things that can turn your franchise around in a salary cap era.”
“It hasn’t been an easy time on a lot of guys in the room,” Blue Jackets interim coach Todd Richards said. “I do know that but I think they have acted as professionals and trying to take the distraction and put it behind them.”