Rick Nash will likely have a new home soon.
The Colombus Blue Jackets' captain has been linked to many teams in recent days. Though general manager Scott Howson has denied any intention of trading Nash, the fact remains that Columbus is in last place in the Western Conference and owns the NHL's worst record.
The vultures are circling.
If a transaction is made, it will have to be of monstrous proportions. Howson is looking for a player ready to take the ice immediately, a prospect and a high draft pick in return for Nash.
Also in consideration is Nash's no-trade clause. The captain appears willing to waive the clause for the New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins. Yet, the Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs remain in the mix as well.
So who is the most likely team to land the 27-year-old winger?
Los Angeles Kings
Current GM Dean Lombardi is facing pressure to win big this year. There is speculation that should the Kings disappoint, it will cost Lombardi's job. At this point, the Kings are 10th in the Western Conference, fourth in the Pacific Division.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Lombardi may be the one GM that succumbs to Columbus' huge return demands.
San Jose Sharks
So far the Sharks have been unwilling to meet the demands required for Rick Nash's services. The Sharks have seemingly shut down discussions about including center Logan Couture in the trade.
Two huge factors remain however.
Sharks captain Joe Thornton and Nash are reportedly close friends. There could be an inside push from Thornton to obtain Nash's services.
The Sharks need to make a move that will push them over the hump. San Jose has finished first in the Pacific Division the last four years, yet haven't been able to dominate in the playoffs like many expect. In fact they've lost in back-to-back Conference Finals with an underwhelming 1-8 record.
Nash could certainly make a splash immediately, but giving up the talent required to get him might still be too damaging to the Sharks' future.
San Jose and Columbus would have to meet exactly in the middle for this deal to take place. A different Blue Jacket would likely fit better. Still, the Sharks and Blue Jackets remain linked.
New York Rangers
The Rangers have the pieces Howson wants most and New York seems most willing to give up the bounty.
New York owns the best record in the East and will look to bolster that lead by the trade deadline. With New York pushing for an answer from Howson by Sunday at the latest, one day early from the deadline, Howson will likely feel pressure to accept a deal before it falls off the table.
The New York Rangers are in a good position to force a deal with an already acceptable offer, before a better one even has the chance to be presented.