If teams were salivating at the opportunity to acquire Rick Nash at the trade deadline, one can only imagine how many more will be chomping at the bit come postseason.
The reason being that general managers will have much more time and flexibility once the offseason comes to make a deal of this caliber work.
The reality will set in however, that along with this super-star player comes a super-star salary. So the real question remains, which teams will be able to afford him?
And by signing his monster eight-year $62.4 million contract extension that took effect during the 2010-11 season, it seemed that Nash was there to stay.
Since that time something has obviously gone amiss.
On the one hand, (loyalties aside) Nash wants to win and am sure would like to have more postseason experience than the mere four games he has played in to date.
On the other hand, if General Manager, Scott Howson is going to part with Nash, then it is going to have to benefit the Columbus organization and not the other way around.
Lets face it, it sure doesn't look good that your team captain and face of your franchise so badly wants out.
So I think it is safe to say that Nash will not be playing in Columbus next year.
Lets take a look at the six teams that would still be willing to work this 27-year-old powerhouse of a goal scorer into their lineup.
First and foremost on that list would have to be the New York Rangers. And we all know that Broadway is always looking for their next super-star.
And while Rangers' General Manager Glen Sather wasn't willing to trade away his whole team that they worked so hard to build at the trade deadline, he may very well see things differently depending upon the outcome in the playoffs.
Sather made the right move at the time, because this current season's chemistry is just too good to tamper with.
The Rangers organization did clear some obvious room in their salary cap when they traded Wojtek Wolski to the Florida Panthers and freed themselves of his remaining $3.8 million.
Plus they acquired John Scott from the Chicago Blackhawks for peanuts and he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season anyway.
Nash's big body and physical presence would fit in perfectly with head coach John Tortorella's coaching style and philosophy. Not only that, but he would also relieve a lot of the pressure that Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards are feeling to ignite the power play.
The second team that would be most interested in obtaining Nash would have to be the Toronto Maple Leafs who are 12th place in the Eastern Conference with 68 points.
They recently fired head coach Ron Wilson and quickly replaced him with ex-coach of the Anaheim Ducks Randy Carlyle in a desperate attempt to end their postseason drought dating back to 2004.
President and general manager Brian Burke is obviously seeking to rekindle past glory with old pal Carlyle from their glory days in Anaheim where they won a Stanley Cup together in 2007.
The Leafs (like the Rangers) may decide to sweeten the deal depending on whether or not they actually do make it to the playoffs, because even after firing Wilson their play has not dramatically changed, having lost ten out of their last 11 games.
This leads one to believe that there will be quite a shakeup in the look of the Toronto Maple Leafs roster during this coming offseason as this may be Burke's last hurrrah unless things start changing.
The Leafs would probably offer Jake Gardiner (who in his rookie season has four goals and 17 assists so far), as well as forwards Mihail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur in exchange for Nash.
MacArthur has 19 goals and 18 assists and one year remaining on his two-year $6.5 million contract with the Leafs.
Rick Nash is also just the sort of tough and solid player that Burke would kill to have on his team.
Next up would be the Philadelphia Flyers. Of course they are going to be in the mix for Nash, because they sure don't want him going to a rival team.
The Flyers have also struggled to find good goaltending dating back to the mid-1980's. They signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year $51 million deal starting this season in an attempt to fit that niche.
Back during the trade deadline, however, the Flyers were considering trading backup goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, but decided against it because Bryzgalov was playing so inconsistently.
His recent play, however, has greatly improved and if it continues, Bobrovsky may be a perfect addition to a Nash package, because Columbus is in the market for a goaltender.
Others that might be considered to acquire Nash would be Brayden Schenn and James Van Riemsdyk.
In addition, depending on whether they re-sign Jaromir Jagr when his contract expires at the end of this season, the Flyers might be looking to fill that super-star void in their roster.
Lastly, flanking Rick Nash on a line with Claude Giroux would make Philly fans very happy and could lead to a killer combination of talent.
Next in line for Nash would be the Boston Bruins. The defending Stanley Cup champions have been stuck in a rut since their hot streak ended in late November. Since that point they have been unable to regain any consistency of play.
Also, while Nathan Horton is still out recovering from a concussion he suffered during the Stanley Cup Final in June 2011, the Bruins need to decide what they are going to do to fill the gaping hole left from his the star winger's absence.
General manager Peter Chiarelli is no stranger to making bold trades, so adding a player like Nash to the lineup would not be an issue for him. Nash's size and skill set also fit right in with the big, bad Bruins persona.
Nash would also be a great addition to complement second-year player Tyler Seguin and veteran Patrice Bergeron and could provide great leadership to the team.
The Blue Jackets would probably most want backup goaltender Tuukka Rask to be part of a Nash trade, but the Bruins weren't willing to give up their future in net at the trade deadline. Perhaps they will be more willing to do so come summer.
The San Jose Sharks general manger Doug Wilson is one of the NHL managers most likely to be under the gun after this season commences, may be open to some changes, depending on whether or not they make the playoffs and if so, how they fare.
Scott Howson isn't going to be thrilled about trading Nash to a fellow Western Conference team that he has to face multiple times a season if he isn't going to get a lot in return for it.
Wilson would probably have to throw in Joe Pavelski, as well as top prospects and high draft picks to make the deal worthwhile for Columbus. If the Sharks can spare a good prospect goaltender then that would further sweeten the deal .
While the Sharks are currently in ninth place in the Western Conference, they have lost three out of their last 14 games and could use a major shakeup like acquiring Nash.
Nash is very open to the idea, as the Sharks were one of the teams he was willing to waive his no-trade clause for at the trade deadline.
It sure doesn't hurt that Sharks veteran Joe Thornton and Rick Nash are good friends and play very well together as seen during the 2004-2005 lockout when they were linemates for Davos, Switzerland and then teammates on Team Canada during the 2010 Olympics.
Also Nash's agent Joe Resnick and Thornton's brother John Thornton are co-founders in Top Shelf Sports Management, which further entwines Nash with San Jose.
And last but not least, the Vancouver Canucks will surely still be in the running to acquire Rick Nash.
Right around the trade deadline the Canucks placed Keith Ballard on the long-term injured reserve list, which freed up $4.2 million in salary space. Depending on how long Ballard is out for could mean room for Nash in the salary cap.
Nash would also bring the Canucks the power forward they have been longing for since Todd Bertuzzi.
Canucks backup goaltender Cory Schneider would be of most interest to the Blue Jackets and they may be willing to give him up due to their long-term contract with Robert Luongo whose 12-year $64 million contract extension expires in 2022.
Front man Ryan Kesler also might be good bait for Nash, that is if Vancouver is in fact willing to part with him.