BOSTON -- According to several reports, Blue Jackets’ winger Rick Nash is on the trading block and the Rangers appear to be one of the teams in the mix.
The cornerstone of Columbus’ franchise, Nash was long considered untouchable although it looks like the team may now be willing to part ways with its 27-year-old captain.
The beleaguered Blue Jackets, in last place with a woeful 16-34-6 record have begun to court potential trading partners, according to the Ottawa Sun and Columbus Dispatch.
In a recent story, the Sun named the Rangers as a potential landing spot for Nash and said Nash would be willing to waive his no-movement clause to play in New York.
Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson has declined to comment on the rumors, but was in attendance to watch the Rangers’ 5-2 win over the Flyers in Philadelphia on Saturday. Blue Jackets scouts have also been on hand to watch the Rangers as recently as this Sunday against the Capitals.
On the second-year of an eight-year, $62.4 million deal, Nash comes with a hefty price tag. The Rangers would have to do some crafty maneuvering to fit his $7.8 million cap hit given the large contracts the team already accommodates with Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards.
But if the Rangers could pull it off, the move may be a game-changer.
With an 11th-ranked offense scoring an average of 2.78 goals per game, New York could use Nash -- a bona fide scoring threat all teams covet heading into the playoffs.
The Broadway Blueshirts have grinded their way to the top of the Eastern Conference standings with their trademark gritty play and impressive resilience, but could use another offensive weapon to augment their attack.
Nash, who has spent his entire career in Columbus since being taken first overall in the 2002 draft, has posted four straight seasons with 32 goals or more and has 18 goals and 21 assists in 56 games this season.
Should Columbus move Nash, the asking price is expected to be high.
The Rangers would likely be asked to package a roster player -- i.e. Brandon Dubinsky -- a top prospect like Boston College's Chris Kreider, and a No. 1 draft pick in 2012, if not more.
The Rangers also have valuable assets like Tim Erixon, J.T. Miller,Christian Thomas and Dylan McIlrath. Whether they’d be willing to part with any of those player remains unclear but one thing is certain:
The speculation over the blockbuster deal will only escalate leading up to Sunday, when the Rangers host the Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden.
As of right now, Nash isn’t putting too much stock into the trade talk.
"The last couple of weeks there have been so many rumors," Nash told the Columbus Dispatch Tuesday morning. "And when a team loses, more rumors keep on surfacing. That's it seems to be right now, is just rumors.
However, in an interview with the Dispatch last month, Nash made it clear he would not stand in the way of a trade should Columbus choose to go that route.
“The city of Columbus deserves a winner and deserves a good product on the ice. If it comes to that -- like you said, all speculation -- but if they don’t want me here, they want to move me? I’m not going to do something where it’s going to hurt the franchise just because I have that in my contract.”
* Want to know ESPN's Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun's take? The two weigh in on all things Nash in Tuesday's Daily Debate here.