Bidding war setting up for Nash

Say this about Columbus Blue Jackets general manager, Scott Howson: He’s handling the Rick Nash game like a professional poker player.

Howson may not move his prized forward by next Monday’s trade deadline or even during the summer, but with all the attention on him, the GM has certainly lined up the suitors in ample time to create a big-stakes bidding war.

Much like Brad Richards was in last summer’s free-agency period, Nash is the runaway darling of the trade deadline market, obviously, and rival GMs are getting in line to woo Howson with the multi-player packages it’s going to take.

On Saturday, it was a summit with the Flyers’ Paul Holmgren and if reports out of Philly are to be believed, his team vaulted into major player status.

On Sunday, there were multiple reports that Leafs’ general manager Brian Burke caught up with Howson in New York, though it wasn’t a scheduled meeting. Apparently Burke ran into Howson and the two GMs talked. On Sunday night, Howson was to be at Madison Square Garden for the Jackets game against the Rangers where the GM of the top team in the Eastern Conference, Glen Sather, was likely going to have his say.

The Rangers, Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings certainly are among the more notable shoppers and with more surely to be in the fray, Howson has created the ideal situation to attract the blockbuster action it will take to acquire the big forward. The more in the auction ring the merrier for the bottoming out Jackets as a bidding war is sure to ensue.

Of course the more that get involved, the more the Leafs may be a long shot depending on how many assets Burke will want to surrender with his team barely clinging to the final playoff spot in the East.

In any event, you can be sure the Nash dialogue will carry us right up to the Feb. 27 deadline.

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