There is no doubt that last season's captain cannot return to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Once GM Scott Howson made it known his star had demanded a trade after the 2012 deadline passed—with no motivation apparent other than to deflect blame—that ship sailed.
The tension would be untenable for everyone associated with the team outside of the media. (Trust me, having the Brett Favre spotlight on the team I wrote about was a boon!)
That is why the Sharks, New York Rangers (via The Columbus Dispatch) and Ottawa Senators (via The Dispatch) continue to be mentioned in trade talks for Nash. As much as Columbus is asking, teams know that the price to upgrade their teams via free agency also costs more than it nets in return.
San Jose has been the only potential destination to stay among the contenders, and was earliest on the list. To most people, that would suggest his arrival is inevitable, not unlikely.
Howson is hoping teams will be left with no choice after they failed to make roster upgrades via free agency. But the Sharks have never been a team that signs big stars via free agency, and they will not want to start now.
The need to move on. They need to protect themselves by making sure their top lines and pairs are in order before free agency so they can upgrade without meeting Howson's demands. And even with a drop in price, the Sharks do not have the right pieces for Columbus.
Howson wants young talent, and that is something in short supply on the San Jose Sharks roster.
Where do you think Rick Nash will play in 2012-13?
San Jose might be able to convince him to take an older talent if it made them better than they are with Nash, but the Sharks obviously do not want that because they are a team looking to win now.
Other teams are already beginning to move on.
The Philadelphia Flyers left the trading table with an alternative to Nash when they traded away James Van Riemsdyk for Luke Schenn. It is quite possible they only dealt Sergei Bobrovsky to Columbus for a second- and two fourth-round picks after reaching an impasse on Nash as a way of turning all the time spent into something constructive.
Prior to the Bobrovsky trade, the Sharks may have been able to use goalie Antti Niemi as a piece in the trading puzzle. It was thought that as a steep need for Columbus and a position the Sharks have a lot of good but untested young talent at, this might be a good gamble.
It is better for the team that option not be on the table. While he has struggled with consistency, Nemo has been more victimized by the team's poor penalty-kill approach than a part of its failure. He is a proven Stanley Cup-winning goalie and flashed enough brilliance to be considered top-10, but outside of that pay level.
So what options does that leave the Sharks?
I will be profiling alternatives to the big Columbus forward in my new post at San Jose Sharks Examiner over the next week, with the first one already available at the link. You can either go back to that page or click on "Subscribe" by the photo under the headline to make sure you do not miss future posts.