Ottawa not on Nash’s list of potential trade destinations: Report

Ottawa not on Nash’s list of potential trade destinations: Report

PITTSBURGH — The Ottawa Senators may be interested in Rick Nash but the big right winger is apparently not very interested in them.

Ottawa is not on the list of teams that Nash would waive his no-trade clause for, the Columbus Dispatch reported Sunday.
So right now that makes all of the talk between Ottawa and Columbus academic.

Nash’s mind could change, of course, and it might have to, because at moment it appears that Ottawa is the only serious bidder.

Reports seem to indicate that the San Jose Sharks have dropped out of the race, and the New York Rangers are reportedly going to target New Jersey free agent Zach Parise.

Will the Rangers jump in if they don’t get Parise, who has seemed to indicate he’s going to re-sign with the Devils?
Columbus general manager Scott Howson can only hope.

After not receiving a sufficient offer at the draft, he is now waiting for early July to see if the offers get better after the first few days of free agency.

In such a thin free-agent market, he’s hoping that prices rise.

Howson is in a tough position, very similar to the position Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray was in three years ago when Dany Heatley demanded a trade.

The demand was a shock, certainly, but Murray diligently went out and made a deal with the Edmonton Oilers: Heatley for defenseman Ladislav Smid and forwards Dustin Penner and Andrew Cogliano.

But, like Nash with Ottawa, Heatley wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause for Edmonton.

That put Murray in a very tight corner. The rest of the NHL could smell blood.

Even if he said he would, he wasn’t going to make Heatley play out his contract in Ottawa. That would have poisoned the team. And if Murray didn’t know it, his wife Geri pointedly told him as much just as training camp was about to start.

So Murray got the best deal he could: Heatley and a fifth-round pick to San Jose for Jonathan Cheechoo, Milan Michalek, and a second-round pick (rental Andy Sutton, from the Islanders in 2010).

Effectively, the deal turned out to be Heatley for Michalek, which is pretty good in the overall scheme of things, since Michalek is a good player and a good person.

But it nonetheless put the franchise through some bad times it didn’t need, and we can all still argue whether the Edmonton deal would have worked out any better.

In many ways, Howson’s situation is more delicate than Murray’s was.

Murray had the city behind him, united against Heatley.

The Senators also had a history as a perennial playoff team, only a few years removed from the Stanley Cup final. So there was a lot of residual goodwill for the team.

Not so in Columbus, which has made the playoffs just once in 11 years and not in the last three. On the ice, the team is a mess and the few remaining fans are furious.

Howson, on proverbial thin ice, needs to get something from this trade that will make his team a playoff contender, which is, of course, why his asking price has been high. He needs some bodies who can play this game.

“We don’t have enough forwards right now,” Howson told the Dispatch.

“That’s something we have to look at through free agency or trade.

“The free-agency market is not something that’s going to get us a high scorer.”

Nash would immediately make the Senators a serious contender in the Eastern Conference – though many think they’ll be one even without him – but he’ll come at a steep price.

Under contract through the 2017-18 season, Nash carries a cap hit of $7.8 million, which would make him the highest-paid player on the Senators.

That’d make Jason Spezza, with a cap hit of $7 million through 2014-15, the second-highest paid player. Would he be OK with that?

Then there would be the price in players going to Columbus.

Over the last week, a number of names have been bandied about, including goalies Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop, and forwards Mika Zibanejad and Nick Foligno.

Plus, while having a gunner such as Nash would be nice, the Senators still need help on defence, which Murray has talked about as a priority.

If nothing else, all of this intrigue ensures that there will be no respite from the hockey season. It now runs 12 months a year.

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