Now that Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have taken their talents to Minnesota — you know what they say: St. Paul is the Miami of the north — the Rick Nash Derby can really start to heat up. Teams that pursued one or both of the two big unrestricted free agents might turn their attention to the biggest name on the trade market, while teams that have been in it all along at least have a somewhat better sense of what they're up against. So, which teams are involved at this point?
For that, we turn to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch. One of the things to keep in mind is that Nash has a no-movement clause which allows him to create a list of teams to which he'd be willing to go to. Via Portzline, here's what we know about that list:
The Dispatch today confirmed that the Pittsburgh Penguins are on Nash's approved list and have been from the start. The list, then, as we know it: Detroit, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Jose. This is the same list Nash presented the Blue Jackets last winter, but there have been hints lately of a willingness on Nash's part to expand it, perhaps for Carolina.
Detroit went after both Parise and Suter but lost out, and according to Portzline, Columbus would be willing to deal Nash to the Wings even though both teams play in the same division. San Jose, according to a post earlier this week by Portzline, has an offer on the table, and that offer could be sweetened. And though Carolina isn't currently believed to be on Nash's list, the Hurricanes, according to TSN's Darren Dreger, are no longer pursuing Nash because the cost was too high. (Dreger says the Blue Jackets are believed to have asked for Jeff Skinner, though, as Greg Wyshynski notes, that could have simply been the opening asking price in a negotiation.)
The other three teams reportedly on Nash's list all play in the Atlantic Division. The Penguins have money to spend after dealing Jordan Staal and missing out on Zach Parise, though putting together a package of interest to Columbus is another story (assuming the Pens are even interested). As for the Flyers, they've reportedly been involved in talks for months now, and Portzline reported earlier this week that the Flyers' trade of James van Riemsdyk to Toronto "does not create a roadblock to a deal, we're told, only a hurdle," since Philadelphia has other pieces it could offer the Blue Jackets in return. (Portzline noted today that Columbus G.M. Scott Howson would have liked to have seen either the Flyers — who made an offer for Parise — or the Rangers — who didn't — land the free agent to get the other to up their offer, though we suppose it's also possible that knowing a division rival is interested in Nash could have a similar effect. After all, it's in Howson's best interest to have as many teams as possible in on this, especially if three of those teams play in the same division.)
The Rangers, meanwhile, still have plenty of trading chips that they're unwilling to part with. As of two weeks ago, not much had changed since the trade deadline between the Rangers and Blue Jackets, according to a Larry Brooks report. (In short, the Rangers have multiple proposals on the table but don't want to trade Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh, or Derek Stepan. The Daily News also reports that they're reluctant to trade Michael Del Zotto, though Brandon Dubinsky — whose name is so often included in trade rumors that we have to remind ourselves he's still with the club — doesn't appear to fall into that category.)
Whether the Blue Jackets would be willing to trade Nash to New York for some combination of, say, Dubinsky, Carl Hagelin, or prospect J.T. Miller depends on what kind of offers Howson is getting from other teams. The Rangers want a scorer, to be sure, but the Blue Jackets pretty much have to trade Nash before the season begins. Bobby Ryan is also believed to be available via trade right now, but the limited market for scorers at this point in the off-season works in Columbus's favor. Will that drive up the cost for Nash? Howson certainly hopes so. Glen Sather, meanwhile, hopes that it won't.