As Dave noted last week in our ongoing discussion about Rick Nash, it’s very possible that Nash wouldn’t be the only Blue Jacket coming back to the Rangers in a potential blockbuster trade this summer.
There have been wide-ranging reports of Columbus GM Scott Howson’s trade demands, but the general consensus seems to be that he wants a couple of NHL forwards, a top prospect and a first-round pick (in addition to the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty).
Though Rangers GM Glen Sather will not meet Howson’s specific demands, it’s still a certainty that a deal for Nash would require a significant multi-player package. It’s also a good bet that Sather might require more players coming back from Columbus if he’s forced to part with prized young assets and it’s possible that Howson would attempt to dump other dead weight in a Nash deal.
So what other Columbus players could be of interest to the Rangers and who would Howson love to send our way?
*Apologies to those with nostalgia, but Vinny Prospal and Fedor Tyutin aren’t in consideration – Tyutin inked a six-year, $27 million contract extension last summer and Prospal has already committed to finishing his career in Columbus and taking a front office job upon retiring.
The Blueshirts would love to get their hands on youngsters Ryan Johansen, John Moore and Boone Jenner, but it makes very little sense for Columbus to deal any of its decent prospects considering the franchise is rebuilding.
The Blue Jackets might consider dealing forward R.J. Umberger, who re-signed for five-years, $23 million in September. Umberger, who was briefly Rangers’ property in 2004, is a solid player and if Howson can get a more appealing package from the Blueshirts, he might consider packaging Umberger with Nash. However, it’s highly unlikely the Rangers would be interested in adding Umberger’s $4.6 million cap hit in addition to Nash’s $7.8 million price tag.
Columbus might attempt to shed the contract of James Wisniewski, who signed last summer for six-years, $33 million, but again, the Rangers wouldn’t want to add that kind of salary.
New York might have a moderate level of interest in sophomore Cam Atkinson, who posted 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 27 games, but he might fit under the umbrella of prospects Columbus has no desire to deal.
Perhaps the player that makes the most sense for both sides is 24-year-old center Derick Brassard, a linemate of Nash over the last two seasons. Brassard has been frequently mentioned in trade rumors and doesn’t seem to be particularly popular in Columbus. Though it remains extremely unlikely that Sather would consider dealing Derek Stepan, Brassard has the potential to be a second-line pivot and might assuage the loss of Stepan to an extent.
Brassard carries a reasonable cap hit of $3.2 million, and depending on how New York’s scouting staff feels about him, he might be another offensive weapon worth attempting to acquire.
Those are about the only players that make any type of sense. Though a multi-player return package would seem likely on paper, there really aren’t a whole lot of Blue Jackets that would interest New York and the ones that might aren’t likely to be on the trading block. Howson’s lack of attractive tradable assets other than Nash makes a blockbuster deal even more difficult to complete, especially while Howson maintains unreasonably high demands.