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Howson no closer to a deal for Rick Nash

by Arpon Basu

PITTSBURGH -- Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson met for nearly an hour Thursday with the agent for Rick Nash, but said he is no closer to trading his disgruntled captain than he was at the trade deadline.

Howson and agent Joe Resnick met one day prior to the first round of the NHL Draft, a day many have pointed to as the logical moment for Howson to move the greatest player in franchise history after he requested a trade during this past season.

But Howson said he's not been overly impressed with the offers coming his way.

"Uhhh, no," Howson answered when asked if he was close to accepting a trade proposal for Nash.

However, that doesn't mean the door is closed on a trade going down sometime this weekend.

"I think a lot of things can happen between now and when the draft is over," Howson said. "I'm not counting on anything. Obviously our goal is to do what's best for our hockey club, and that's how we'll keep operating."

Howson has been through this dance before, having unsuccessfully attempted to move Nash prior to the deadline nearly four months ago. He says he feels the environment for a deal is more suitable now than it was back in February.


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"I believe we are, yeah, but we're no closer to a deal than we were at the trade deadline," Howson said. "I think there are more legitimate possibilities out there right now."

The one detail of his conversation with Resnick that Howson did reveal was that the possibility of Nash staying with Columbus was not discussed -- though it's something Howson has not entirely ruled out.

"I think anything's possible in this game," he said. "No one knows how people are going to feel a week from now or two weeks from now, or how we're going to feel. Rick's a great guy; he's been a tremendous ambassador for our team and for our city. I wouldn't want to put any certainty into anything right now."

The potential of moving Nash obviously is not the only file sitting on Howson's desk this weekend, as the Blue Jackets hold the No. 2 pick in the NHL Draft that gets under way Friday night at the Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN).

One trade rumor that Howson was comfortable shooting down immediately was the possibility of the Blue Jackets swapping picks with the Edmonton Oilers to grab the No. 1 choice.

"We're not interested in moving up," Howson said. "We're going to stay at [No.] two or move back."

Howson and his staff were going to meet Friday night to discuss "a few possibilities" to move down in the draft, but he said he was very comfortable keeping his pick. Howson said the position of the player or his country of origin will have no impact on his team's decision on the draft floor.

"The players that we have rated one and two are very close, and we'd be delighted to get either one of them," he said. "I think there are one or two players in this draft who will be able to step in right away."

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