Speaking on "That's Hockey," Howson would not confirm that Nash would only accept a trade to the Bruins, Flyers, Penguins, Rangers, Red Wings or Sharks, as has been reported.
"If we do complete a trade, we're trading out a 30- to 40-goal scorer," Howson told TSN's Gino Reda. "Defense is probably the strongest part of our team as we look at it today, so we're looking to get some NHL forwards back first and foremost."
Howson said he has no timetable to make a deal. He said he has talked to "a number of teams."
"We don't have a deadline," the GM said. "Rick's under contract and we'll continue to work at this, we'll continue to keep Rick in the loop … and we'll just hope that we get a resolution to this."
Nash, who has played all of his nine-year NHL career for Columbus, has a no-trade clause. His contract has a salary-cap value of $7.8 million for the next six seasons, according to CapGeek.com.