Moving Nash makes sense
Columbus GM Scott Howson is weighing several trade options, all of
which could save his job & rebuild his team in a hurry.
LOS ANGELES -- Although he created a recipe for disaster with his off
season moves, Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson has been presented
with a huge opportunity to undo a multitude of sins courtesy of the
With a few savvy moves, Howson can revamp a roster with unhappy
players and big contracts, into a young, deeper, and far better team
poised to compete in the increasingly difficult Central Division and
the parity-laden Western Conference.
First on the list is the face of the franchise, Rick Nash, who has
capitulated and agreed to submit a short list of destinations he'd be
willing to accept a deal to.
Though he's been loyal to the franchise and wants to win in Ohio, the
realization that it won't happen at Nationwide Arena has sunken in,
and the trade speculation has reached a crescendo.
While there's not even agreement on which teams are on his favored
list, the New York Rangers are one of the chosen few. Though the
Blueshirts sit atop the Eastern Conference and have created distance
between them and their closest pursuer, the Boston Bruins, the thought
on Broadway is that Nash's presence writes a ticket to the Stanley Cup
The reported offer from Rangers GM Glen Sather has Brandon Dubinsky
and prospect Chris Krieder at the top, although a source close to the
situation told TFP Howson is holding out for forward Derek Stepan, an
asset that likely starts a chain of events for the Blue Jackets.
An acquisition of Stepan would give Columbus a young tandem down the
middle in partnership with Derick Brassard, who would look good
playing alongside (the team's next face of the franchise) Nail Yakupov
next season. The former sixth-overall pick by the Jackets in 2006 was
thought to be at the top of the list of players leaving, but the
installation of Todd Richards as interim head coach has but the Quebec
native back on track and is not being dealt, according to multiple
Howson could then pull the trigger on the long rumored Jeff Carter to
the Los Angeles Kings trade, in which goaltender Jonathan Bernier
would return and be installed immediately at the starter between the
Once thought as the Kings goalie of the future, Bernier has been
outplayed by teammate Jonathan Quick and with the Kings needed to
re-up the All Star netminder and starving for goals, Bernier is the
player Howson covets to cure his netminding issues.
Bernier addressed the rampant rumors about his departure from Staples
Center on Monday.
"I haven't asked for a trade and I'm happy here, but I want to be a
starter in the NHL," he told me.
Though Carter has been in the pivot on the first line for Columbus, an
immediate partnership with Mike Richards as his left wing would be
created in the hope of having the same production level they created
in Philadelphia. Adding to the mix is the personal friendship between
the two players, as Richards conveyed they continue to speak numerous
With the Kings' dead last in goals-for, this deal appears to be a
no-brainer for them, though there are substantial reservations about
Carter's attitude tied into his long term contract.
"There's 10 years left on an 11-year deal," a West coast source told
TFP last night. "He may come in and produce for a couple of years, but
then what? I bet Washington is regretting they have nine-years left on
a deal with a cap hit of $9.5 million for Ovechkin right now."
The holdup on a potential Bernier-for-Carter deal could be the fact
that the Kings are still not out of the race on Nash. Bernier could be
packaged, along with defenseman Jack Johnson, center Andrei Loktionov
and a draft pick for the Brampton, Ontario native.
Nash's star presence may guarantee job security for GM Dean Lombardi
even if his cap team misses the playoffs. The Kings enter tomorrow
night's match in Phoenix in ninth place.
"It's been assumed ownership would clean house if there's a playoff
miss or first round elimination in Los Angeles, but (team governor)
Tim Leiweke loves stars and Nash would also signal to other players,
including Jonathan Quick (a UFA after the 2012-13 season), that
they're serious about winning," said a Pacific Division source
"Missing on Ilya Kovalchuk and Brad Richards didn't help the
perception around the league that the Kings aren't all in for a
championship. Nash is a game changer for the franchise on and off the
ice, and that's why the Kings need make a statement to overpay for
However, assuming the Rangers step up and the Kings can't get their
hands on Nash, thus obtaining Carter, the Blue Jackets' upgrades at
the center and goaltending positions gives them the opportunity to
wheel an excess center -- Antoine Vermette, a productive second line
pivot -- for a top four defenseman.
The Chicago Blackhawks, still searching for a second line center
behind Jonathan Toews, have rebuffed going forward for a deal on
Buffalo's Derek Roy. Vermette comes a bit cheaper from a cap hit
perspective ($3.75 million per), but has three-years remaining on his
deal, while Roy becomes an unrestricted free agent after the end of
the 2012-13 season.
The Nashville Predators could kick the tires on Vermette, as well, and
could offer defensive prospect Jonathan Blum in exchange, with cap
space not being an issue with the Predators.
A third option could be the Florida Panthers, looking for help on the
second line and an excess of high priced defenseman. One NHL source
says Jason Garrison, in line for a big raise off a breakthrough
season, could be available on a rental basis with big money deals in
place for Brian Campbell, Ed Jovanovski and Eric Gudbranson, and with
the need to re-up Dmitri Kulikov, who can become a restricted free
agent on July 1.
With less than one week to go before the trade deadline, talks
league-wide have significantly started to ramp up. If the cards fall
into place for Howson, the Blue Jackets could be much better off --