Rick Nash may no longer be a memeber of the Columbus Blue Jackets after the NHL draft weekend in Pittsburgh. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
With the 2012 NHL draft starting tonight, the rumor mill regarding the potential swap of established NHL players has gone into overdrive.
Columbus Blue Jackets right winger Rick Nash continues to dominate the news. The Columbus Dispatch reported Thursday GM Scott Howson was prepared to wait as long as necessary, including past the start of free agency July 1 or even into next season, to get what he feels is the right return.
The New York Post reported the New York Rangers remain interested in Nash, but Howson apparently hasn’t lowered his high asking price from the trade deadline.
Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren’s love of major deals has his club considered a dark horse candidate in the Nash sweepstakes, although their need to shore up their blueline appears more pressing than bolstering their already-deep forward lines.
Other clubs believed in the mix are the San Jose Sharks, Carolina Hurricanes, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Rangers, with their depth in affordable young talent, are still considered to have the best chance of landing Nash, but the Flyers could give them a stiff challenge if Holmgren’s interest is as serious as rumored.
The Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline took to Twitter Wednesday claiming to have it “on good authority” Flyers left winger James van Riemsdyk would be willing to join the Blue Jackets if such a trade were to be made. Portzline was the first last June to report the Blue Jackets had interest in then-Flyers center Jeff Carter.
If Holmgren is pursuing Nash, van Riemsdyk would have to be part of the return, both in shedding salary to absorb Nash’s $7.8-million cap hit and providing the Blue Jackets with a decent offensive talent.
Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea.com reported the odds of the San Jose Sharks acquiring Nash are worsening and suggested van Riemsdyk is a more affordable option.
The Flyers need depth at defense and in goal, two areas Kurz feels the Sharks can draw upon to make a pitch.
BOBBY RYAN BACK ON THE MARKET
Anaheim Ducks right winger Bobby Ryan has resurfaced in the trade market.
Ryan was mentioned last November as a possible trade candidate, but that talk died out after Bruce Boudreau was brought in as the Ducks coach.
Earlier this week, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported hearing Ryan was available, adding it didn’t mean the 25-year-old would be dealt, but that Ducks management was listening to offers.
Darren Dreger, McKenzie’s colleague, subsequently reported the Ducks weren’t pushing Ryan out the door, claiming they’re getting calls from other clubs about him.
The possibility of Ryan’s availability could have an effect upon the Blue Jackets’ efforts to trade Rick Nash, giving teams seeking a first-line winger another, more affordable option.
It would take a significant offer, however, to pry Ryan away from Anaheim. The Ducks won’t just give him away, nor will they accept castoffs or aging stars on the downside of their career.
IS STAAL ACTUALLY AVAILABLE?
Only a couple of days after Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero denied center Jordan Staal was available, it was reported Staal has rejected a 10-year contract offer from the club.
Though the financial details weren’t disclosed, it was rumored to be around $60 million.
No word on when the offer was made or when Staal rejected it. His agent claimed only his client was prepared to sign a contract extension at this time.
Shero wasn’t available to comment on the report, which reverberated around the league and created speculation over Staal’s future in Pittsburgh, as well as where he might land if the Penguins decide to trade him.
It’s believed Staal would prefer to join his older brother, Eric, with the Carolina Hurricanes, though some New York Rangers fans point out brother Marc plays for the Blueshirts, for whom he could also become a top-line player.
The Hurricanes have made no secret of their desire to add a front-line forward and if the Penguins decide to move Staal at some point, they’ll be among the interested parties.
Though the Penguins would get significant interest in Staal, he’s not expected to be shopped this weekend.
GARRISON WORTH $5 MILLION?
The Florida Panthers have extended a contract offer to pending unrestricted free agent blueliner Jason Garrison with GM Dale Tallon saying he intends to meet with Garrison’s agent this weekend in Pittsburgh.
Given the lack of depth in quality defensemen in this summer’s free agent market, it’s rumored Garrison could get around $5 million per season, a figure the Panthers apparently won’t match.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Wednesday evening it was possible Tallon could shop Garrison’s rights if he feels he can’t get him signed before July 1.
BLUES NEED BLUELINE DEPTH
The St. Louis Blues could be looking for blueline depth in the trade or free agent market.
GM Doug Armstrong told Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he is in the market for a top-four defenseman, preferably one who could play alongside rising star Alex Pietrangelo.
Rutherford suggests Nashville Predators pending UFA Ryan Suter would fit the bill, though he’ll be pursued by several other clubs and could command more than $7 million per season on the open market.
The Blues have new ownership and Armstrong suggested his team shouldn’t be automatically dismissed when it comes to interest in players like Suter. Still, it’s unlikely they’ll make a serious pitch for the Predators blueliner come July 1.
As the depth in quality top-four defenseman is thin this summer (Garrison, Dennis Wideman, Filip Kuba, Sheldon Souray and Matt Carle are the best available blueliners after Suter), Armstrong might turn to the trade market.
Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News, Kukla's Korner and The Guardian, Charlottetown.