February 24, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Rick Nash (61) carries the puck against the Colorado Avalanche at Nationwide Arena. Colorado won the game 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

Rangers Back Out of Nash Sweepstakes

Though there is still about 21 hours remaining before the 3 pm NHL Trade Deadline, reports are trickling in that the Rangers are backing out of trying to acquire Columbus Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash.

Several reports, including Nick Kypreos of SportsNet.ca, are saying the Rangers’ unwillingness to meet Jackets GM Scott Howson’s demands — rumored to include one of either Michael Del Zotto or Ryan McDonaghand top-prospect Chris Kreider — will take them out of the running to land the 27-year-old Nash, who was taken first overall in 2002.

Rumors were the Rangers offered Brandon Dubinsky, defensive prospect Tim Erixon and a first-round pick for Nash.

Although the saga is still alive, this news leaves two teams still linked to Nash: the Toronto Maple Leafs and San Jose SharksNash’s agent, Joe Resnick, said the hope was to get something done prior to the deadline rather than playing the season out and making a trade in June at the Entry Draft in Pittsburgh.

“We’re hopeful a deal can get done prior to the trade deadline that is fair and equitable to the Blue Jackets,” Resnick told TSN’s Bob McKenzie Saturday.

Aside from having the assets to land Nash, teams have to also deal with his cap-hit. Nash is in the second year of an eight-year contract with a cap-hit of $7.8 million annually through 2017-18, with a no-trade clause. In order to be traded, he’d have to agree to the deal.The important thing to remember is the Jackets don’t have to trade the home-grown star the franchise has ever known. Unlike situations where teams are forced to make a deal prior to the deadline because a player will become a free agent after the season, Nash is signed for the next half-decade. This gives Howson and the Blue Jackets to hold steady until a deal they believe is worth their while.

That, though, only goes for so long. Nash won’t be a member of the Jackets next season. The circus that has surrounded him and the team over the last two weeks has become a no turning back situation for both sides. The Jackets want to start fresh and Nash doesn’t want to be part of a rebuild.

Nash has been the face of the franchise since 2002, but after just four playoff games with zero wins, it’s time for a new face in Columbus.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamia

Tags: Brandon Dubinsky Chris Kreider Columbus Blue Jackets Michael Del Zotto New York Rangers Rick Nash Ryan Mcdonagh San Jose Sharks Tim Erixon Toronto Maple Leafs

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