Report: Up to seven teams express “significant” interest in Rick Nash

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With the 2012 NHL Entry Draft rapidly approaching, Rick Nash’s tenure with the Columbus Blue Jackets might be nearing its end.

Teams are likely to have significant interest in using draft picks as potential trade chips in a Nash deal. Additionally, any team that gets Nash around the draft will still have time to adjust their strategy for the free agent market.

According to the Columbus Dispatch’s NHL sources, up to seven teams have already expressed “significant” interest in Rick Nash over the last 10 days. There’s also another three or four that have “kicked the tires” to gauge what Nash would cost them.

The New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks, and Carolina Hurricanes are all believed to have considerable interest in Nash’s services. However, there’s also a real possibility that an overlooked contender might swoop in and wrestle Nash away from the Blue Jackets.

Columbus GM Scott Howson is hoping to get a big return for the face of their franchise. After a disastrous season, Howson needs this deal to represent a turning point. That’s not a simple task given Nash’s $7.8 million annual cap hit, but one way or another, we might not have to wait much longer to find out what Nash is worth to another team.

UPDATE: NHL.com reports the number of teams interested in Nash has now jumped to 10.