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Despite moves, Nash remains top priority for Jackets

by Shawn P. Roarke

While most of the focus Sunday was on the destinations of forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter -- the two biggest names on the free-agent market -- Columbus forward Rick Nash remained in limbo, as well.

Rick Nash
Rick Nash
Right Wing - CBJ
GOALS: 30 | ASST: 29 | PTS: 59
SOG: 306 | +/-: -19
Nash, the Columbus captain, is expected to be traded this summer. There were thoughts it could happen as early as Sunday, the opening of free agency for the 2012-13 season.

But, it has not happened yet -- and may actually be a while.

Sunday, Columbus general manager Scott Howson said he was no closer to trading Nash.

"It was a quiet Rick Nash day today," said Howson.

There is one place Nash will not be going: Ottawa.

The Senators have been open and aggressive about their desire to land the power forward, but Ottawa has never been on the list of acceptable teams for Nash, who has a no-movement clause that he has agreed to waive for only a few teams.

Ottawa GM Bryan Murray gave up the chase officially Sunday after making a different trade with Columbus, one in which restricted free agent forward Nick Foligno went to the Blue Jackets in exchange for defenseman Marc Methot, who will likely by Erik Karlsson's new partner.

"I would say we're out of the talks -- yes," Murray confirmed on Sunday afternoon.

"Basically, we weren't on the list. I'll put it that way," Murray added. "As far as I know, it (Nash's trade list) never changed, so there was sense in chasing. We just didn't feel that was necessary."

Murray had numerous discussions with Howson around the NHL Draft weekend in Pittsburgh.

As a backup plan, Ottawa was hoping to land a top-six forward -- perhaps even Parise -- through free agency, but, in the end, the price to do so proved to be too steep.

"We talked to everybody -- the Nash camp and the Parise camp. It just didn't work with our way of operating with the number of young people we have coming and the commitment we had to make financially and term. So we just stepped nicely back from that," Murray said shortly after the trade of Foligno and the signing of Guilliame Latendresse to a one-year deal.

As for Nash, his future remains up in the air. According to several reports, the New York Rangers are the most likely destination, with several other teams still in play.

However, the interest in Nash will not reach its apex until Parise's landing spot is determined. According to reports, Parise will not make a decision until Monday, at the earliest.

Which means the future of Nash remains in limbo.

"I wish I had the crystal ball. I really don't know," Howson said. "I think in free agency now, that's where teams' attention is. We'll figure out after the chips fall if there's something there that would make sense for us."

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