COLUMBUS: The potential availability of Rick Nash now has consumed the portion of the hockey world focusing on the deadline. For good reason, too -- Nash almost certainly would be the best player available and one of the best ever dealt at the deadline if it were to come to fruition.
SOG: 219 | +/-: -22
Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News pondered what it might take for the Stars to land Nash.
"The guess is pretty much anything short of Jamie Benn or Loui Eriksson, right?" Heika wrote. "I think you might toss Kari Lehtonen in the keep group, and maybe Alex Goligoski and Philip Larsen. But, really, everything else is on the table."
Heika tossed out names like Scott Glennie, Jack Campbell and Jamie Oleksiak that could be part of a package deal, and he believes it is worth it for Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk to call the Blue Jackets and see what it might take. Remember, the Stars have newfound stability in ownership and could have the means to absorb Nash's big contract.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported the Rangers have had preliminary talks with the Blue Jackets about Nash, but a source deemed it a longshot. Brooks reported the "opening asking price" was Brandon Dubinsky, Chris Kreider and a first-round pick, but also said "it would be hard to believe" that Columbus GM Scott Howson wouldn't want Derek Stepan and/or Ryan McDonagh in a deal.
Pierre LeBrun wrote in ESPN.com's Daily Debate that he expects the Rangers and Kings to be involved, but also pondered the possibility of the Philadelphia Flyers being in the mix. Any offer from Flyers GM Paul Holmgren probably would include some (or all) of the team's three young forwards -- James van Riemsdyk, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier -- and maybe goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, as well.
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For the Leafs to be involved, names like Nazem Kadri, Joe Colborne and Luke Schenn are sure to come up. Maybe Mikhail Grabovski as well, especially to help make the finances work.
So yeah -- there are going to be lots of ideas and possibilities out there on Nash. Howson should have plenty of options to choose from, even on Nash's truncated list. While the Blue Jackets need a long-term solution in goal, Howson needs to secure the best package of talent he can, whether that includes a young netminder or not. Expect plenty more to come on this developing situation in the coming days.
CAROLINA: Tuomo Ruutu is expected to miss up to three weeks with an upper-body injury, which means one of the most coveted forwards who might be available this month is unlikely to play again before the deadline. Whether Ruutu is even going to be available remains to be seen, because GM Jim Rutherford still is trying to sign him to a contract extension.
"It will have no impact," Rutherford told Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer. "The fact that we'd like him to stay and like to re-sign him has not changed in any way."
The injury probably doesn’t diminish what trade value might be there for Ruutu if Rutherford doesn't get him signed, either. It is certainly possible that if the two sides don't reach an agreement that Rutherford can open the bidding on Ruutu even as late as deadline day and probably find a nice return. He'll probably be close to returning from the injury by then, anyway.
EDMONTON: There aren't many teams that definitely are "sellers" right now, though the Oilers probably can be classified that way. The question then becomes: Who is GM Steve Tambellini willing to sell?
One name that has been popular on this front is veteran forward Ryan Smyth, but he doesn't appear to be an option.
"I have no plans to move Ryan Smyth. Ryan made it clear that he wants to stay here and play for the Oilers," Tambellini told reporters Tuesday.
Another potential target who has generated plenty of debate is Sam Gagner. His ultimate ceiling, not to mention his future with the Oilers, was a hot topic after a scorching-hot stretch of eight goals and 14 points in four games.
"I've said from the outset that I believe in Sam," Tambellini said to Matheson. "He's played a lot of different roles for us over the last year and a half and I was so happy he had a couple of nights where you saw the potential come to reality. It was a lot of fun.
"I am not looking to sell anything that hurts our team and I hope Sam's part of that (rebuild)."
MINNESOTA: TSN's Darren Dreger reported that Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky had agreed to waive his no-trade clause to go to New Jersey.
Wild GM Chuck Fletcher talked to Mike Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and said any talk of a Zidlicky trade is "very premature."
"I haven't asked Zid to waive his no-trade for any specific trade," Fletcher said to Russo. "I haven't called him and said anything's close.
"I can tell you for sure I'm planning on talking to other teams. We haven't traded Zid, we haven't made the decision to trade Zid at this point. I have not formally asked him to do anything because at this point I honestly don't have anything to take to him, I don't have anything for him to say yes or no to."
Zidlicky could give the Devils a boost on the blue line, something they might need if Henrik Tallinder's blood clot problems keep him out for longer than expected. Zidlicky has one more year on his contract, and the no-trade clause becomes more limited this summer if Fletcher opts not to make a move this month.
Russo also reported that he hears Chicago is a possible suitor for Zidlicky as well.