Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 06/19/12 at 01:36 AM ET
As Paul already noted, both TSN’s Bob McKenzie and the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman have suggested that the Rick Nash sweepstakes, which is presumably the biggest sup-blot to this weekend’s Entry Dra…I mean draft, may or may not end up reaching its resolution in early July, and the Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts spells out the reason why, with “the reason” going by the name of Zach Parise:
Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson, with some input from adviser Craig Patrick, is expected to trade his star winger by the start of the NHL entry draft Friday, although there is a chance the deal might drag into the free-agency season.
This is not only because of the complexity of trading a star player with a $7.8-million (all currency U.S.) salary-cap hit for the next six seasons, but also because of such outside factors as the status of St. Louis Blues president John Davidson and the financial health of the New Jersey Devils. (NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied a report Monday that the league is preparing to take the team away from co-owner Jeff Vanderbeek.)
Both Howson and Nash’s agent, Joe Resnik, declined to comment Monday.
The Devils connection is through their ability to sign forward Zach Parise, who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Parise is thought to prefer staying with the Devils but general manager Lou Lamoriello is going to have a hard time finding the money to keep him because of Vanderbeek’s money troubles.
If Parise hits the open market, which seems certain, then Howson may not mind waiting until after July 1 for a Nash trade. Once Parise signs with someone, the losing teams will start bidding for Nash.
It appears Howson is talking to several teams without regard for the list of approved teams Nash submitted last winter. He may be hoping to strike a great deal and then get Nash to waive his no-move rights just to end the saga.
However, the Parise auction has no bearing on the front-runner in the Nash sweepstakes, at least if Parise is to be believed. He said shortly after the Devils lost the Stanley Cup final to the Los Angeles Kings that he had no interest in playing for the New York Rangers.
Shoalts believes that the Rangers, Kings and Maple Leafs may still be the front-runners for Nash’s services, but he adds in John Davidson’s name because he’s not ruling out Nash remaining with Columbus if they hire Davidson.
I’m not so sure about that. Nash wants out, and from what I’ve been told by on-the-record people who cover the Blue Jackets, Nash is plain old pissed off with the Blue Jackets’ state of constant rebuilding. It’s Howson who’s the sticky wicket in the equation because, as the New York Post’s Larry Brooks suggested, Nash’s suitors are balking at the Blue Jackets’ demands for a top-pair defenseman, top-line forward, one of the potential trade partner’s top 2 or 3 prospects and a first-round draft pick. As Brooks said:
The question now, as it was in late February — when Columbus GM Scott Howson got greedy and demanded a combination of players including Chris Kreider; Derek Stepan or Carl Hagelin; Ryan McDonagh or Michael Del Zotto; plus Brandon Dubinsky and a first-rounder — is what the Jackets will be willing to accept and how much Sather will be willing to yield in return for the 28-year-old winger, whose numbers on the ice have never quite matched the hype attached to him.
The question within that question is how much Nash, whose average season yields 35 goals and 31 assists, has been weighed down trying to carry an inferior franchise through the entirety of a nine-year NHL career in which his team has made the playoffs once, only to be swept?
Up to a half-dozen teams — including Philadelphia, San Jose, Carolina, perhaps Toronto and perhaps Boston — are in the race, but the Rangers could end the derby in a heartbeat by agreeing to send Kreider to Columbus. There is less chance of that occurring than of Sean Avery returning to the team as an assistant coach.
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