NHL

Dreger: Sharks a strong contender for Blue Jackets' Nash

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Darren Dreger
2/21/2012 7:59:55 PM
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The San Jose Sharks are emerging as a strong contender for Rick Nash. Sources say Columbus initially targeted Logan Couture, but was quickly told that was a non-starter. But, make no mistake, San Jose will stay in the mix until Monday's deadline.

Nash and Sharks veteran Joe Thornton are good friends and have shown an impressive chemistry when playing together internationally that isn't being overlooked. The Sharks would prefer an off-season deal to avoid the in-season disruption, but San Jose is keen.

Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson won't discuss specifics on any of the deals he's working on, but tells TSN there has been a lot of creativity suggested with a variety of his players. You can't blame Howson for working outside the short list Rick Nash provided at the beginning of this saga.

As much as Howson wants to hit a grand slam in this deal, Nash isn't focused solely on the next four months and where his best chance to win a Stanley Cup might be.  The 27-year-old is about to make a life-altering decision on where he wants to spend the next six-plus years of his life while investing in the community the way he has in Columbus.

So, as diligently as Howson is working to find the best deal, it's highly unlikely Rick Nash can be pressured into accepting a trade to a team or city he's not interested in going to.

Toronto's bevy of blue-liners continues to draw interest from around the league.

With Jake Gardiner unavailable, multiple teams would like to pry Luke Schenn loose, however the Leafs insist he won't get moved unless faced with an offer they can't refuse, and so far, that offer hasn't been made. Carl Gunnarsson, Cody Franson and Keith Aulie are also generating interest.

Chicago, Detroit, New Jersey, Edmonton and Winnipeg remain among the teams still searching for defencemen, so Toronto expects an opportunity will surface in the days ahead.

The Edmonton Oilers are also hoping action heats up on Ales Hemsky. Inquiring teams say Hemsky's asking price of an NHL roster player in return is too steep, given his lack of offensive production and potential status as a rental. However, unless those currently on the fence shift to selling mode, teams like Edmonton and Toronto, who have players in play, may hold firm on what they expect in return.

Rick Nash (Photo: Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
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