COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 14: Rick Nash #61 of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrates a third period goal with teammates while playing the San Jose Sharks at Nationwide Arena on January 14, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. The San Jose Sharks won the game 2-1. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Well, it's all on the table now.
While it's easy, and sometime necessary, to get hung on precise terminology on a story like this one -- the differences between "on the market" as opposed to "listening to offers" as opposed to "being shopped" -- here's the bottom line:
Last week, in no uncertain terms, NHL teams were told Nash was not available and this week, he is. For the right team, anyway.
Less than two weeks to the NHL trade deadline, that is nothing less than a seismic shift.
That doesn't mean he'll necessarily be traded by the deadline but it does mean there has been a significant change in his status from last week to this week.
Nash's simple response, as reported by Aaron Portzline:
I'm a Blue Jacket right now. I've played my whole career here and it's a special place to me. So as of right now I'm a Blue Jacket.
Last night, Puck Daddy Greg Wyshynski threw out some teams that would have interest in Nash. The New York Rangers continue to be at the top of the buzz chart, and they do make sense on more than one level. Wyshynski also mentions the Washington Capitals have a lot of young talent with cap room to spare. Two teams that have been speculated, but no official reports are the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks.
When you trade a player like Nash, you want the minimize the number of times you'll have to potentially face him each year. To say he would be motivated when playing against the Jackets would be an understatement. That said, the Jackets may still be hoping on the new divisional alignment to eventually shake out, thus they would have less of a fear for trading him to a team in the West.
Of all the teams, New York makes the most sense based on what has taken place so far. There have clearly been talks between Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson and NYR GM Glen Sather. Whether the talks are for Nash, or for departing center Jeff Carter as originally reported, only time will tell.
The Rangers lead the East, and with 3 fewer games played than the Red Wings - the only team with more points than the blue shirts - they're clearly making a case that this is their year. With players like Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal and world class goalie Henrik Lundqvist, adding Rick Nash to that mix would far and away make them the most dangerous team in the league.
There's really no way talks continue without Brandon Dubinsky coming in return, a player the Blue Jackets have coveted for years. What else could be of value to the Jackets is the question. Picks, prospects... perhaps.
But when looking at the Blue Jackets biggest needs - a true number one goalie and a top 4 defenseman, two other teams seem to have more to offer.
The Jackets will be replacing Steve Mason. The free agent market is thin on goalies this off-season, and even if they have their eye on a player, the chance of signing them without grossly overpaying is slim. Remember the Mike Commodore and Kristian Huselius contracts?
So it makes the most sense to find a goalie by trade, and who would command a better return than Rick Nash? Of teams rumored to have interest in Nash, the Kings could offer Jonathan Bernier and the Canucks could pick their future with Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider. Both teams also have some defensemen that would interest the Jackets and could certainly include a pick or prospect as both teams have their eyes on the Stanley Cup.
These would all appear to be teams Rick Nash would sign off on, considering he has a No Movement Clause in his contract for another four years, but again, only time will tell.
This may all be for naught, as even with the poor play and rampant rumors, Nash will stand behind his organization and trust their judgement. He may very well be a Blue Jacket next year and beyond.
But for the first time, he's listening.