Without a definitive head coach in place, San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson is set to make a move for the top free agent commodity this offseason: Rick Nash.
Nash, whom the Sharks made a move for prior to the NHL trade deadline, has put San Jose on his list of places where he would like to play next season. But it is the Blue Jackets who have put a halt to the seemingly sure thing that is Nash leaving Columbus before next season.
Nash's current contract with the Blue Jackets is worth $82.4 million over eight years and will expire in 2018.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported earlier this month that Wilson is in fact going to make an aggressive play for Nash, but told the Blue Jackets he would wait until June to make that happen.
Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson has been quietly trying to peddle unhappy captain Rick Nash but it’s difficult to find serious interest now. Sources say Sharks GM Doug Wilson, who made a serious pitch in February, is willing to revisit talks after a first-round exit. I’m told Wilson informed the Jackets the Sharks would sweeten the offer in June.
Of course, the overall consensus was that the Sharks would make the move for Nash at some point this summer, but San Jose appeared headed in a different direction, as the team recently floundered in the playoffs.
However, the only thing stopping the Nash-to-San-Jose trade from going through was Wilson's reluctance to give up a key young player. But with his job somewhat on the line, Wilson may be rethinking that notion.
Reports before the trade deadline suggested that the Blue Jackets had Logan Couture on their shortened list of players that they wanted from the Sharks in return for Nash. Evidently, that was not what Wilson had in mind, as the trade went dead. But there may be more freedom for Wilson this offseason.
The Sharks do have some good young players in the AHL, such as Taylor Doherty, but all indications point to Columbus wanting players who can perform now and the Sharks not willing to give up the same.
Some possible trade pieces for the Sharks to consider this offseason would be Joe Pavelski and Ryane Clowe, among others.
Clowe is coming off one of his worst seasons in some time, scoring 17 goals, 28 assists and a plus/minus of minus-5. The team would make him part of a major package if they want to land Nash.
Pavelski, on the other hand, would presumably be the next biggest piece to the trade if Wilson makes it clear that Couture is not available for trade. Pavelski had 31 goals and 30 assists last season, as compared to Nash's 30 goals and 29 assists in 2011-12.
Columbus is also looking for a goalie, as they announced they have virtually given up on netminder Steve Mason. The Sharks' Antti Niemi could be a key addition to the trade scenario with the Blue Jackets.
The biggest topic here is that Nash and San Jose captain Joe Thornton know each other very well—from the Canadian Olympic team to the 2004-05 NHL lockout, where they both played for Davos, Switzerland. It is safe to say the two are good friends, and that could play a big role in how this deal gets done and which team is willing to settle on the potential outcome of this possible trade.