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End is near for Rick Nash, Blue Jackets as trade discussions set to resume

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In my eyes, the unofficial end for Rick Nash and the Columbus Blue Jackets wasn't when the captain made his trade "suggestion" but when GM Scott Howson made that fact public after failing to deal Nash at the trade deadline.

It was a response to Nash's agent Joe Resnick going to the media and declaring Nash wouldn't expand his list of teams this summer if he wasn't traded, indicating it was ownership and management that approached Nash to move him.

"It's the right thing to do. It's the truthful thing to do," said Howson of the reveal.

Unless Howson was fired, Nash was done with Columbus. But Howson was given another chance by ownership to make this thing work, which means the situation between team and captain "still has the feel of an amicable split between two sides that would rather avoid a public spat," according to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch.

Portzline reported Sunday that Wednesday's GM meetings will set the Nash trade wheels in motion, a process that could be completed around the NHL Draft or at the Free Agent Frenzy on July 1. The destinations for both Ryan Suter and Zach Parise could influence the deal; but ultimately, it's Nash and his no-trade clause that will determine where he's traded. Ask the Ottawa Senators how much fun that can be.

In case you were wondering about a Nash redux with the Jackets, Portzline noticed a trend after the season:

This month, when Todd Richards was introduced as the Blue Jackets' full-time coach, he rattled off the reasons he was excited to keep the job. The acquisition of Jack Johnson, the late-season scoring flurry from R.J. Umberger, the leadership of Vinny Prospal and the hope of a bright future for Cam Atkinson and Ryan Johansen were cited by Richards, who made no mention of Nash.

Umberger noted how Richards was staying in touch with the leaders in the Blue Jackets' dressing room. He, too, mentioned Johnson and Prospal, along with right winger Derek Dorsett and defenseman James Wisniewski. He did not mention Nash.

Which is weird, being that he's, you know, the captain and all.

Will Nash expand his trade destinations? That was the play by Howson, keeping Nash at the deadline and hope the awkwardness of the divorce opens up new trade routes in the summer (along with teams that didn't win in 2012 getting a little more trigger happy in the off-season).

Who might be in the derby? The Boston Bruins have the pieces but the price could be too high, despite Nash being a Cam Neely-esque prototypical power forward. The New York Rangers, in on Nash until the deadline this season, are an interesting call: Does Glen Sather see Nash as the last piece, or did he see enough from the team's young players (like Derek Stepan, for example) in this playoff run to make them untouchable?

The Toronto Maple Leafs would covet this "good Ontarian boy," but might not have the assets other suitors have. The Vancouver Canucks would be a fascinating destination if they're interested. The Washington Capitals could kick the tires on a replacement for Alex Semin, who'd also be the antithesis of Alex Semin. The Detroit Red Wings could make Nash the fallback if, for some reason, they lose out on Parise and Suter.

Ultimately, the San Jose Sharks might make the most sense. Their roster needs a shake-up after their regression last season. And the draw of playing with Joe Thornton is undeniable for Nash.

Logan Couture is off the table; it would be interesting to see who else is on it. But based on their cap space for next season and Nash's hit ($7.8 million), it may necessitate someone taking Patrick Marleau's salary off their hands to make this work. Good luck with that.

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