Brooks: Next two Rangers games could impact Nash trade

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The New York Post’s Larry Brooks believes the two games the Rangers play between now and Monday’s trade deadline – Friday on Long Island and Saturday versus the Sabres – could have an impact on their desire to acquire Rick Nash from Columbus.

Brooks argues that, given the Rangers’ offensive struggles lately, GM Glen Sather might be more willing to sweeten the pot if he doesn’t see an improvement. And while I don’t buy that argument myself (Sather knows what he’s got; two games won’t change his perception; and it’s not like they’re getting killed), Brooks does pass on the following information:

Sources familiar with the parameters of the discussions between Sather and Columbus counterpart Scott Howson have told The Post the Rangers have designated Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto, 2009 first-rounder Chris Kreider and 2011 first-rounder J.T. Miller as untouchables when the Blue Jackets requested their inclusion in the package for Nash, the 27-year-old power winger who is being dangled to deep-pocket contenders.

It is believed that Sather, who is not fazed by the ramifications of adding Nash’s contract that runs through 2017-18 at a cap hit of $7.8 million per year, is prepared to send Brandon Dubinsky, Christian Thomas, and perhaps 2010 first-rounder Dylan McIlrath plus a first round pick to Columbus in order to bring the 6-foot-4, 220-pound, nine-year veteran to Broadway.

Sather has been unwilling to include promising 20-year-old defenseman Tim Erixon — who could be a call-up for the playoffs — in the package going to the Blue Jackets, though Howson has expressed interest in the rookie North American pro.

If I’m Howson, I’d want more promising prospects than McIlrath (a big, tough defenseman, but with limited offensive upside) and Thomas (a top scorer in the OHL, but undersized). If those are the only two Sather’s willing to give up, I doubt Nash goes to the Rangers prior to the deadline.