Right Wing - CBJ
GOALS: 18 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 39
SOG: 222 | +/-: -24
-- Columbus Blue Jackets
star Rick Nash
offered a pair of "no comment" responses at Madison Square Garden on Sunday evening when asked if he would accept a trade to the Rangers and if he could see himself living in New York.
As fate would have it, Nash is town to play the Rangers with the pair having been linked in rumors over the past week since reports began circulating that the Blue Jackets' captain was likely to be dealt before the Feb. 27 trade deadline.
"You know, it's going to take care of itself," Nash said when asked if he'd prefer to stay in Columbus or be traded elsewhere. "I'm a Blue Jacket right now. We're playing great hockey. It's fun to be around. It's been a tough year for us. But right now, when you're winning games, it becomes a different game."
Nash said despite the talk that the Rangers could be a destination if he's traded, there's no added distractions being in Madison Square Garden.
"We're in different buildings every other night," Nash said. "It's just another game. I just worry about today. Right now, I'm a Blue Jacket and that's what matters. I've played my whole career here. That's how I'm dealing with a game I'm playing in two hours."
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The sight of a dozen reporters around a player two hours before a game is a unique one, but Nash said the microphones and recorders that are sure to follow him through next Monday aren't anything that will bother him.
"I'm fine. I played the Olympics a couple times for Canada," Nash said. "So this is really nothing compared to that."
Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson will be at Sunday's game against the Rangers, which is sure to fuel even more speculation about Nash's future. According to capgeek.com, the Rangers will be able to add $6.9 million in cap hits on deadline day. Nash carries a $7.8 million cap hit through the 2017-18 season.
Should the East-leading Rangers choose to add Nash, they would need to ship some money back to Columbus. One name that continues to pop up in rumors is forward Brandon Dubinsky
, who signed a four-year, $16.8 million contract this summer but has just 6 goals and 19 assists in 53 games after a career-high 24 goals and 30 assists last season.
"Trades are part of the game," Dubinsky told Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record. "Until Slats (GM Glen Sather
) calls me and says I'm not here anymore, I'm going to work my butt off. It's all rumors. It's just part of the game.
"I love it here. But I'm not putting too much thought into it. You can't control what other people say, you can only control what you do. If you do that, the rest of the game, the rest of your career, will take care of itself. That's the way you've got to approach it and keep your focus."
Nash has been an offensive force throughout his eight-year career, scoring at least 30 goals four times and at least 40 goals twice. This season, he has struggled along with most of the Blue Jackets, who sit in 30th place in the League standings. In 58 games, Nash has 18 goals, 21 assists and a minus-24 rating.
Through Sunday's afternoon games, the Rangers ranked 11th in the NHL in goals per game at 2.77.
In three career games at Madison Square Garden, Nash has 1 goal, a minus-6 rating and 9 shots.
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo