Spelling out the facts on Rick Nash

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Spelling out the facts on Rick Nash

With the Stanley Cup Finals little more than a week away, the busy season has arrived for the rest of the NHL beginning work on their offseason plans. Trade rumors, signing your own players and major roster decisions are all in play with the NHL Draft and NHL free agency little more than a month away.

That means the rumor mill is getting worked into a deep frenzy for 27 NHL teams watching the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings work out the whole Stanley Cup thing. There were reports out of Columbus that the Bruins are working on pulling together a deal for discontented sniper Rick Nash as he becomes the biggest trophy on the trade market this summer.

According to The Canon blog out of Columbus, the Blue Jackets TV play-by-play guy, Jeff Rimer, reported on one of the local radio stations that the Bruins were preparing a major offer for the former No. 1 overall pick.

While its true Nash is considered one of the best offensive talents in the NHL as a 6-foot-4, 216-pound left wing, the 27-year-old is also coming off one of his worst seasons with 59 points and a minus-14 for an admittedly miserable Columbus hockey team.

With that in mind lets go on a little fact-finding mission when it comes to Nash and the Bruins:

Fact: The Bruins are one of the teams that Nash would agree to waive his no-trade clause for and his camp admitted as much during the winter when his name first seriously surfaced at the trade deadline. So Boston is a place that the

Fact: The Bruins have interest in Nash as most every other team in the NHL would if they could clear out of the 7.8 million in cap space required to bring the forward onto a new team. That would mean the Bruins would need to move a player in the 5 million salary cap hit neighborhood (David Krejci, Tim Thomas) before even thinking about bringing in such a heavy hitter.

Fact: Columbus is going to be looking at premium prices in exchange for their franchise player with many teams expected to be in the sweepstakes around the time of the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh. Most expected that the Blue Jackets would be looking for Tuukka Rask in any Nash exchange given Columbus dreadful performance between the pipes, but indications to CSNNE.com from several places are that the Blue Jackets are looking for either Milan Lucic or Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton as their desired price tag. Seguin is an untouchable for the Bruins coming off a sophomore NHL season where he blossomed into an All-Star performer, but Lucic appears to have his name coming up more and more often in trade discussions. Prices may drop if the Blue Jackets have a difficult time finding a home for a disgruntled player that clearly doesnt want to be in Ohio next season, but the Bruins will need to part with something good. It makes much more sense for the Bruins to sell Columbus on a package of Krejci and prospectspicks, but that doesnt appear that it will be close to enough.

Fact: the Columbus blog post mentions Patrice Bergeron as a possibility to be moved to Columbus in the right circumstances. Thats never going to happen. No player in their right minds is going to waive a no-trade clause to go from Boston to Columbus. Thats where players like Jeff Carter go as punishment for their misdeeds rather than a landing spot for the Selke Trophy favorite this season.

Fact: the fact Boston is poking around Nash clearly illustrates their understanding that finding a little more offensive punch is a need after this springs feeble output against the Washington Capitals. Nash would be an ideal No. 1 left wing finisher and fits the bill for Bostons clear need, but it set off some bells and whistles that the winger played on many dreadful Blue Jackets teams and has exactly four games of postseason experience on his resume.

Fact: The Blue Jackets are asking for too much for Nash at this point. This hockey writer can only see the superstar winger coming to Boston if Columbus is willing to take on Krejci or Tim Thomas in exchange for their franchise cornerstone. That may or may not happen

Bruins acquire bottom-six forward Drew Stafford from Winnipeg.

Bruins acquire bottom-six forward Drew Stafford from Winnipeg.

BRIGHTON -- Bruins general manager Don Sweeney gave every indication it was going to be a mostly quiet trade deadline for the Black and Gold, and it was . . . right up until the 3 p.m. deadline.

Then the B’s dealt a conditional sixth-round pick to the Winnipeg Jets for forward Drew Stafford. The trade was announced shortly after Wednesday's 3 p.m. deadline.

Stafford, 31, is having a down year due to injuries and ineffectiveness and has four goals and 13 points along with a minus-2 rating on the season, and has played in only 40 games this season after being dealt two years ago to the Jets from Buffalo along with Tyler Myers. The 6-foot-2, 214-pound Stafford was a bit of a Bruins killer during his time in Buffalo and topped out with 31 goals and 52 points n the 2010-11 season. He scored 21 goals and 38 points in 78 games for Winnipeg last season, but compiled a whopping minus-23 mark.

This is a no-risk move for the Bruins, who surrender very little for a player who will give the B’s an option at wing should one of their younger players begin to struggle, or who could potentially replace someone like Jimmy Hayes among their bottom-six forwards.

Other than Stafford, the Bruins stood pat and watched as players like Radim Vrbata, Jaroslav Halak, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog didn’t move ahead of the deadline. The B's weren’t about to move their top prospects and blue-chip assets while in a rebuilding phase, and they were smart to stick to the low-risk/high-reward type move. Sweeney and Company are clearly betting on the group they’ve put together to finish up strong and power into the postseason in the final 19 games under interim coach Bruce Cassidy. 

Cassidy: 'Trying to set a standard' of being one of the NHL's better teams

Cassidy: 'Trying to set a standard' of being one of the NHL's better teams

BOSTON – The Bruins have won seven of eight games under interim coach Bruce Cassidy and are fortifying their position as the third playoff team in the Atlantic Division with each passing victory.

The 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden on Tuesday night probably shouldn’t be all impressive based on the Yotes standing as the second-worst team in the NHL, but it was a classic trap game coming off a long West Coast road trip. Instead of falling for the trap the Bruins exploded for three goals in the second period, energized by a shorthanded Riley Nash strike, and continue to extend the winning stretch they need in order to punch their playoff ticket.

The postseason clincher is still a long way away from reality, but Cassidy said the B’s are starting to achieve the elevated level of play they’re aiming for while finally getting the full potential out of their team.

“I just want the guys to make sure that they play confident, solid hockey and believe in themselves. And play to a [higher] standard,” said Cassidy. “We’re trying to set a standard where we’re one of the better teams in the National Hockey League. They’ve been there before, the leadership group here. That’s where we’re striving to get through in the end.”

They haven’t exactly shied away from the competition either, twice beating the first-place San Jose Sharks and shutting out the first place Montreal Canadiens in the final straw that saw Michel Therrien axed in favor of Claude Julien.

The B’s have now opened up a three-point cushion over the Maple Leafs for their playoff spot and they’ve averaged 4.13 goals per game (33 goals in eight games) while allowing just 2.13 goals per game (17 goals in eight games) in the eight games going from Julien to Cassidy. 

The challenge now is to maintain that level of play over the final 19 games of the regular season to drive home their playoff bid and finish strong at a point where in each of the past two seasons they’ve utterly imploded.