The biggest bargaining chip going into Monday’s 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline was Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Nash, 27, is in his eighth season with Columbus and considered the perfect piece for any team looking to pick up a superstar scorer. But as the deadline passed, Nash remained a member of the Blue Jackets in what might just be the biggest debacle in the team’s 12-year history.
Just days after the Blue Jackets traded Jeff Carter away in an effort to shed some salary, it seemed as though Nash would be the next to go. Columbus is the worst team in the NHL – in fact the next closest team is 13 points ahead of the Blue Jackets – and with another last place division finish eminent, the Blue Jackets are focusing on the future as they begin to rebuild. Nash was the perfect bargaining chip for Columbus and with a cap hit of $7.8 million, it would allow the team to begin to make a change.
But as the deadline came and went, nothing happened. Though later it turned out Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson might have dropped the ball on shipping Nash out of Columbus. With interest from several teams, Howson hoped to create a bidding war for Nash and he set the price high – too high – but the Eastern Conference leading Rangers know that Nash could make the team an odds-on cup favorite. And the Rangers were willing to pay for Nash.
As the deadline approached, New York offered a deal that almost all teams would have taken. According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Rangers GM Glen Sather offered Howson Brandon Dubinsky, 21-year-old top defensive prospect Tim Erixon, 2011 first-round pick J.T. Miller and 2010 second-round pick Christian Thomas, along with New York’s first-round selection for the 2012 draft.
To turn down a jaw-dropping trade of that caliber which would potentially help turn the franchise around seems foolish but Howson set the price high and expected more for his captain.
“The price was high. I don’t apologize for that. It had to be high,” he said.
Howson wasted no time after the deadline making it clear that Nash had come to him and asked for a trade, deflecting any criticism for not pulling the trigger with the Rangers. Nash was questioned during Blue Jackets practice on Monday and made it clear he wanted to remain with the team that drafted him back in 2002.
“I was informed by management that there was a rebuild, a reshape, of the team, and I personally felt I could be a huge part of that, toward bringing assets in. I think that was in my view that was the best thing for the team, the organization, and personally for my career. I believe in ownership, I believe in Scott Howson. I love being a Blue Jacket, love the city, love the fans — and that is something that will never change,” Nash told Blue Jackets Xtra.
He pretty much took the complete opposite approach of former Toronto Maple Leafs great Mats Sundin – who asked to be traded for a shot at the cup – ex plaining that though a move would be the best thing for his career, he wanted to stay in Columbus and help build a winner.
But after the LeBron James fiasco, Ohioans might not buy what Nash is selling. Columbus fans will get at least a few more months of watching Nash as team captain but should expect him to be moved during this summer’s draft.
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