Say what you will about Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson – he’s not sitting idly by as the trade deadline approaches. Howson has already loaded up on youth and picks with the Antoine Vermette and Jeff Carter trades, but Aaron Portzline reports that Rick Nash is “still available for [the] right price.”
Really, the only difference is that the Los Angeles Kings are no longer in the running (barring something really bizarre happening).
Plenty of other teams have reportedly shown interest in Nash, with the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and San Jose Sharks making the biggest waves so far. Just about any contender with some cap space could conceivably get in the bidding, as long as they’re willing to pay the price in terms of assets and Nash’s $7.8 million cap hit.
The Carter trade only solidifies the notion that Nash will come at a significant cost since Columbus received a first-round pick and a talented young defenseman in that swap.
Moving Carter might relax a little bit of the tension for Howson to move Nash by the deadline itself. Much has been made about the off-season potentially being a better time to maximize his trade value since it’s likely that more teams could be in the bidding, but the pressure was really building.
Now Blue Jackets fans might be appeased by the fact that Howson got a nice package for a guy who clearly didn’t want to stay in Columbus.
If nothing else, hockey fans have at least one blockbuster trade to chew on, so this year’s general trade deadline time won’t be a total letdown – even if the day itself ends up being underwhelming.
More on the big Carter-to-LA trade: All sides seem happy with the move.
Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.
Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.
The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.
“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told NJ.com. “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”
At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.
The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.
Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.
There’s another Raffl in the NHL.
On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.
Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.
“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.
With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.
For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.