Against all odds, Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson kept his job despite the spectacular failure of his team. He spent a lot of payroll dollars to lose a lot of games.
Now Howson will be the NHL’s most popular man as the draft nears. Several teams are bidding on power forward Rick Nash, a player the Blue Jackets are committed to moving as part of a badly needed overhaul.
The New York Rangers and San Jose Sharks seem like the front-runners, but don’t rule out the Toronto Maple Leafs or Carolina Hurricanes.
What sort of package would it take to land Nash? The team apparently is asking for two proven players and a couple of prospects or draft picks in exchange.
The Blue Jackets need to start over in goal, which is why an Antti Niemi/Joe Pavelski/picks/prospects offer from San Jose could have some appeal. The Sharks figure to make major changes after their playoff flop and Niemi, a Cup winner in Chicago, was one of their major culprits. The versatile Pavelski would offset some of the offense lost with Nash’s departure.
The Rangers have some young forwards with upside, but only Ryan Callahan has emerged as a proven scorer. Brandon Dubinsky has scored more than 44 points just once in his career, yet the New York media props him up as an amazing trade piece. Actually he is a really good third-line forward.
Chris Kreider showed some promise after coming out of the college ranks to score five playoff goals in 18 goals. Derek Stepan had one goal and eight assists in 20 playoff games. Artem Anisimov had three goals and seven assists in 10 playoff games. Are they future impact players or merely supporting cast candidates?
Should Zach Parise re-sign with the New Jersey Devils, Howson would gain a ton of trade leverage. Then his demands for four or five significant pieces would not seem so extreme.