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July 1, 2012 | 9:59am ET
Blue Jackets aim to get tougher

Rick Nash saga aside, the Blue Jackets enter the free agent market with the desire to get bigger and tougher up front, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson continues to entertain offers for Nash, as the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks and Ottawa Senators keep calling, but he is also focused on adding a few pieces via free agency.

According to the Dispatch, the Blue Jackets are looking to strengthen their third line, and could target such players as Daniel Winnik, Adam Burish, Torey Mitchell and Ruslan Fedotenko.

With a strong defensive corps already in place, the Blue Jackets could look to add a big, defensive-minded rearguard, which would lead to the team trading one of its current blueliners.

It has been widely reportedly that defenseman Marc Methot is being shopped for scoring help, and he could be dealt if the team signs another blueliner, as second-overall selection Ryan Murray is expected to make the big club this September.

Meanwhile, the Rangers and Flyers continue to press hard for Nash, though it's believed the Blueshirts are the frontrunners. Depending on how the day unfolds for the Rangers, they could up their offer for Nash and complete the transaction as early as this afternoon.

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