Rick Nash

Should Columbus trade Rick Nash?

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In 2009, Rick Nash signed an eight-year, $62.4 million contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets. At the time, GM Scott Howson said “we are very happy that he will continue to call Columbus home for many years to come,” while adding, “this is an important and exciting day for our franchise and fans.”

That was two years ago.

Today, folks are asking if Nash should get the hell outta dodge. (Dodge being Columbus in this instance. Look, just go with it.)

Adam Proteau of The Hockey News has penned a column on why Nash would be best served moving out of Columbus.

Sometimes, asking to be moved is the right thing to do, for both the player and his employer. And I think we’ve arrived at that stage when it comes to the increasingly sad story of Rick Nash and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Now, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Nash hasn’t made any noise whatsoever about wanting out of Ohio and the Jackets are far from being mathematically eliminated from the 2012 playoffs – his team isn’t altogether bereft of talent. Indeed, I was one of the few people who thought Columbus could make the playoffs this season.

However, the hockey gods have all but extinguished those post-season dreams. Losing prized free agent signing James Wisniewski to an eight-game suspension at the start of the year was bad enough; losing prized trade acquisition Jeff Carter after five games to a fractured foot was worse; and the consistent struggles of starting goalie Steve Mason (whom as I joked on Twitter was in line to star in the next edition of the Saw horror movie franchise: Saw VIII, Let In VII) looks like the worst development of all.

First, the brass tacks: Nash has a no-movement clause through 2015. When that’s up, his no-trade clause kicks in (and goes until 2018.) So there’s that logistical hurdle to overcome.

Second, this isn’t a new line of thought. CBC’s Elliotte Friedman brought it up during Hockey Night in Canada. TSN’s NHL panel of Marc Crawford, Aaron Ward and Bob McKenzie discussed it. Lyle Richardson addressed it in his weekly rumor roundup.

Third…would Columbus even have the stones to pull this off? Not to belittle the offseason work of Howson and club president Mike Priest, but there was no major blowback from the Wisniewski and Carter acquisitions. They were bold moves, but relatively easy ones to make. Wiz only cost the team money (which was spun as a commitment to winning) and Carter only cost them a single roster player (Jakub Voracek).

When the season started poorly and losses mounted, Howson and Priest failed to make any bold, tough moves (unless you count bringing in Mark Letestu and Nikita Nikitin, which I don’t.) Howson still has a job, Scott Arniel still has a job and Steve Mason still isn’t being challenged for the No. 1 goaltending gig.

Addressing any of those issues would be considered a bold move. But trading the face of the franchise? That would be the boldest move of all.

Just doesn’t seem like Columbus is willing to make it.

Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1

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For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.

Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.

But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.

Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.

When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.

Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.

The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.

Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.

Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.

Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1

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Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?

Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.

Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.

Official update on the really important story of the evening:

Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

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The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.

As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.

The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.

Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.

Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.