Could The Jackets Do Business In Beantown?

Both David Krejci and Milan Lucic could be on Scott Howson's shopping list if the Bruins are serious about pursuing Rick Nash. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

If you weren't listening to the Blue Jackets' Sunday Morning Skate this morning on 97.1, you may have missed Jeff Rimmer reporting that the Boston Bruins are very interested in Rick Nash, and preparing to make a "major" offer in an attempt to land the winger. With 18 current roster players heading into RFA or UFA status between this offseason and next, they're going to need to shuffle a lot of dollars around to keep everyone together, and they may see the next two seasons as their best chance to repeat as champs if they can get Nash into their lineup - particularly if the Jackets take back some salary (or a player likely to want a big raise) as part of the deal.

So, with that in mind, who might the Bruins be willing to offer, and who would the Jackets want back?

We'll get the obvious one out of the way: Tuukka Rask.

An upcoming RFA, the former Maple Leafs draft pick has been considered the heir apparent in Boston for the past three years, but Tim Thomas has this pesky habit of being Tim Thomas and stealing more time in the starter's role.

Likely to want a significant raise (he's posted a 2.23 GAA and .926 SV% the last three seasons, plus 2.61 GAA and .912 SV% in 13 playoff games), it's been assumed that the Bruins would want to keep Rask as their insurance policy, and it's hard to see him being traded.

Blue Jackets Suspected Interest: HIGH

Bruins Willingness To Trade: LOW

Patrice Bergeron (C)

Signed through the 2013-2014 season at a $5,000,000 cap hit, Bergeron has been a linchpin player for the Bruins who has played up and down the lineup according to the team's needs. Able to kill penalties, work the power play, and go to the net, he's been an Olympian for team Canada (including the 2010 gold medal team) and has put up 50+ points the last three seasons.

Most importantly, Patrice is an incredible character player who would be another solid contribution to the club's efforts to build a strong identity with his hard working attitude and commitment to team-first play.

The one problem is that Bergeron does currently hold a No-Movement clause, but obviously that could be waived in the right situation. He's a big piece to move, but on the other hand, if the Bruins really want Nash, you have to give to get...

Blue Jackets Suspected Interest: MODERATE to HIGH

Bruins Willingness To Trade: UNKNOWN

Milan Lucic (LW)

One of the Bruins' young core players, Lucic has become known for his punishing physical play and willingness to get dirty, but he's also produced some solid scoring along the way.

It seems crazy to think that the Bruins might look at trading the promising winger, but talk of his "disappearance" in the playoffs and some concerns about his increasing PIMs brought out a fair amount of grumbling in Beantown, and that could mean there's an opening.

Signed at a $4 Million cap hit through the end of next season, Lucic will be an RFA going into 2013-2014, and does not possess a no trade or no movement clause. Bringing him into Columbus might offer him the chance to prove himself to the fanbase here, earn a new contract, and show that he can succeed as his own man, and not just as part of Claude Julien's system.

Oh, and did I mention that he's put up 25+ goals and 60+ points the last two years? It wouldn't totally replace Nash in the lineup, but it would certainly go a long way towards adding a similar player in the team's arsenal. (Oh, and imagine the idea of putting him on a line now and then with Derek Dorsett when the Blues try to goon it up? I get chills, I tell you...)

Blue Jackets Suspected Interest: HIGH

Bruins Willingness To Trade: MODERATE-HIGH?

Rich Peverley (C/RW)

At 29 years old, he's near the top end of the "core" age that the team has been trying to put together, but Peverley would be a very interesting trade target for several reasons. A strong two way player and excellent faceoff man, Peverley was a big surprise for the Thrashers after being plucked off waivers in 2008-2009, and continued that strong play in Boston after being traded for their cup run. He's now signed with the Bruins through 2014-2015 on a deal that would pay $3.25 million per season.

You may remember Peverley from his clutch scoring that postseason, or for the sick shorthanded goal he tore up the Jackets with at Nationwide two years ago.

He wouldn't - or perhaps shouldn't - be thought of as a #1 center, but he could easily slot into the void left by Sammy Pahlsson's departure, or perhaps play a role similar to Antoine Vermette. He's also another guy who came up through hard work, dedication, and gritty play through all levels of hockey, making him another good "voice in the room."

Peverley has a limited NTC this season, and can submit a list of 8 teams to the Bruins, so he controls his destiny. Is Columbus one of them? Doubtful, but it's always possible that Scott Howson or Craig Patrick could sell him on it. After all, you'd think he'd want a little payback on the Predators for cutting him...

Blue Jackets Suspected Interest: MODERATE

Bruins Willingness To Trade: MODERATE

David Krejci (C)

A legit #1 C possibility, Krejci just signed a new deal with the Bruins that will carry him through the 2014-2015 season at $5.25 million per year against the cap. He seemed to peak, NHL wise, with a 73 point season in 2008-2009, but still has put up 50+ points in each of the following years, and had 12 goals and 11 assists during the Bruins' cup run.

Normally I'd consider him as good as untouchable, particularly since he carries an NTC, but like Lucic he's gotten a lot of criticism for "disappearing" during this postseason, and the team also has Tyler Seguin ready to take on a similar role in the lineup.

If there's a bit of a concern, it's his recent concussion history. Any interest would likely be modulated by that, but at the same time, he could be a very attractive fit here in Columbus.

Plus, we'd get to put up the Czech Mates banner again, and everyone loves that.

Blue Jackets Suspected Interest: HIGH

Bruins Willingness To Trade: MODERATE

Speaking of Tyler Seguin, let's consider the 2010 #2 overall pick.

In two seasons of NHL action, he's made an impressive leap, going from 22 points in his first season (mostly spent on the third and fourth lines) to 29 goals and 67 points as a top six forward, plus two goals and an assist in their 7 game series against Washington.

Currently on his entry level deal, Seguin will be a RFA next year, meaning that the Jackets could potentially lock him up as a new "franchise" star alongside Ryan Johansen for the forseeable future...if the Bruins would consider moving him.

Blue Jackets Suspected Interest: HIGH

Bruins Willingness To Trade: LOW

Brad Marchand (LW)

Think of Derek Dorsett turned up to 11, and you have Brad Marchand. A heart and soul player who has been known for leaving it all on the ice, he's also been known for being a bit of a wild man off the ice. Fortunately, for him, he's backed up the wild and crazy lifestyle with strong play on the ice, scoring 28 goals this year following his incredible 19 point run in last year's postseason.

Marchand also had some major battles with Boston GM Peter Chiarelli over getting a new contract in time for this season, so it's possible that he'd be amenable to a new team and bit of a fresh start. With one more year at $2.5 million on his current deal, he's another player who might see Columbus as an opportunity to make a big impact and earn a bigger paycheck, but it might require one of the veterans in the locker room keeping a careful eye on him.

Blue Jackets Suspected Interest: MODERATE

Bruins Willingness To Trade: MODERATE to HIGH

Last but not least, there are two prospects who I could see Scott Howson looking at in any deal with Boston - Dougie Hamilton and Anton Khudobin.

Hamilton, the 9th overall pic in last year's draft, is expected to be an impressive young offensive defenseman with great puck moving skills, and so far he hasn't disappointed. While he would be in the "NHL or back to Junior" camp next season (and I don't know if there would be room for him on the team's relatively crowded blue line this season), he would be a major boost to the team's prospect pool and a potential future star to develop.

Khudobin, on the other hand, is a promising goaltending prospect who was expected to slide up into the ranks for the Bruins after being stuck behind Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding for several years in Minnesota. His NHL sample size is almost microscopic (7 games in three years), but he turned in strong performances each time, including two NHL shutouts, and he's had respectable runs for both the Houston Aeros and Providence Bruins in the AHL.

I'm not sure if I'd want him to immediately take over the starting job here in Columbus (as Rask would if he came over in a trade), but if the team parted with Steve Mason, acquired someone like Josh Harding in Free Agency and groomed Khudobin to take over in the next season or two? Yes, I think that could work nicely.

The one potential hitch in that plan is that Khudobin is a UFA after 2012-2013, so any plans to bring him along would have to come with a new contract...

All things considered, there are some very attractive pieces that the Bruins could offer in a potential Nash deal, and I'm interested to see what might happen. Boston could be in a very tricky position against the cap with so many upcoming RFAs at the end of next season, and this might be a way for both clubs to help each other out.

Two or more of these players would almost certainly need to come back - and it seems likely that picks or other prospects would also be involved. It's a steep price, but Nash has been promoted as a true game changer - perhaps the biggest player on the trade market since Ilya Kovalchuk went to New Jersey - and if Kovalchuk can put the Devils past New York? The price just went up, because you know Glen Sather will be back on the phone.

The question is, how badly do they want to make a deal, and how hard of a bargain can Scott Howson drive?

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