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(FRED THORNHILL/The Canadian Press)
(FRED THORNHILL/The Canadian Press)

Rick Nash now 'on the market' Add to ...

The trade deadline suddenly got a whole lot more interesting.

On Monday night, RDS reporter Renaud Lavoie posted a story that outlined how the Columbus Blue Jackets were now prepared to put star forward Rick Nash "on the market."

Confirmations that the report is true have since come from both Blue Jackets beat writer Aaron Portzline and TSN's Bob McKenzie, two impeccable sources that have likely talked to those involved.

The key details here, however, are that Nash has a no-trade clause and can dictate where he goes. As a result, there would likely be only a select few teams in the running for his services, if in fact he gets moved.

Even so, this has just become the biggest story to watch with the trade deadline less than two weeks away and very little else of consequence going on.

Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson has vowed to keep quiet, telling NHL.com on the weekend that he's "not going to disclose what we're going to do, but we certainly have a plan in place."

Howson added that "we expect to be active" before the trade deadline.

The RDS report, meanwhile, provides a lot of other details. Lavoie writes that a general manager "confirmed Nash could be traded" and that a second source added that Nash "had been offered to a select few teams."

It's also made clear that a Nash deal could also happen in the off-season, likely near the draft, as opposed to in the next two weeks.

Several other reports have Howson in attendance at Saturday's game between the Rangers and Flyers in Philadelphia, and the hot rumour there is that New York is the leading candidate for Nash's services.

The Rangers, amazingly, will have nearly $7-million in cap space by the Feb. 27 deadline and would also likely move at least one roster player (believed to be Brandon Dubinsky) out to make room.

Along with the rest of his teammate, Nash hasn't had much of a season to remember. He is on pace for 26 goals, 57 points and a minus-32 rating, all of which would be his lowest totals in at least five years.

In the last five seasons, however, Nash ranks sixth overall in goals with 161, behind only Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jarome Iginla, Corey Perry and Dany Heatley.

He's also still only 27 years old and is under contract for the next six seasons with a cap hit of $7.8-million. If there's a downside to his game, it's his defensive play and tendency to have scoring droughts, but the upside here is obviously considerable.

If he can out score all but five other NHLers while playing in Columbus, how much can he produce on a team full of talent?

Elliotte Friedman has more on all this here.

UPDATE Nash spoke Tuesday morning with The Columbus Dispatch about the "rumours."

"The last couple of weeks there have been so many rumours," Nash said, "and when a team loses, more rumours keep on surfacing. That's [all]it seems to be right now, is just rumours.

"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."

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