After signing James Wisniewski and trading for Jeff Carter last summer, the Columbus Blue Jackets had hopes of making the playoffs for only the second time in the franchise’s history.
Being in the NHL’s toughest division, the Central Division in the Western Conference, the Blue Jackets are at the bottom of the league standings with only 41 points this season—nine points below the second-lowest point total.
A team in rebuilding mode, their most valuable asset is Rick Nash, a winger they selected 1st overall in the 2002 NHL entry draft.
A career Blue Jacket, Nash is a proven goal scorer and has 19 to go along with his team-leading 40 points this season. With teams in search of help boosting their offense for the final stretch of the season pushing into the playoffs, Nash has been linked with interest from the New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks and many other teams.
If Columbus wants to get the highest return they can for Nash, they should trade him to the Los Angeles Kings.
If the playoffs started today, the Los Angeles Kings season would be over as they are currently the ninth place team in the Western Conference.
With high expectations for the past few seasons, the Kings once again are experiencing a disappointing season.
They acquired Mike Richards from Philadelphia and signed Simon Gagne last summer, a couple of veterans to play with their youthful players in Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson.
With the frustrating season in LA, the Kings are desperate.
General manager Dean Lombardi is fighting to keep his job that he will most likely lose if the team misses out on the postseason. It is not too late for him to salvage LA’s season and his job.
Lombardi and the Kings desperately need Nash, who would provide a boost in scoring, something the teams has sorely lacked. The franchise has big pieces that the Blue Jackets would surely covet, like a young roster player and a starting net minder.
The Kings possess a great deal of youth as well as a deep defensive corps. Because of the situation Lombardi and the team face before April, Blue Jackets general manager can probably squeeze Johnson into being a part of the deal. With Doughty and Willie Mitchell on defense in Hollywood, Johnson, a young, puck-moving defenseman, is expendable and would drastically improve the Blue Jackets blue line.
Columbus goaltender Steve Mason has not played close to the level he did in 2009 when he won the Calder Trophy.
Sending Nash to southern California should be enough for Howson and Columbus to get a capable starting goalie in return.
The Kings have Jonathan Bernier on their bench because All-Star Jonathan Quick has played outstanding in net over the past three seasons. Bernier is one of the best young backup goalies in the league, and one of a number who are waiting for the chance to be a starter.
Because Nash is only 27, Columbus has leverage in demanding a higher price. He still has a number of years of good hockey ahead of him.
The LA Kings are the best trading partner for Howson because of the position they have found themselves in this close to the playoffs.
Trading with LA would give Columbus at least two roster players that they are in need of, as well as maybe a high draft pick or prospect.
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