Have the New York Rangers, by default, become the favorites to land star forward Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets prior to Monday's 2012 NHL Trade Deadline? The Bergen Record speculated Thursday that Columbus trade of center Jeff Carter to the Los Angeles Kings means exactly that.
The Rangers and Kings were considered the co-favorites to land Nash if the Blue Jackets opted to deal their franchise player.
But with the Kings sending defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round pick to Columbus, it would seemingly preclude Los Angeles from also having enough chips to pursue Nash. Thursday night's trade is contingent on the players passing their medical exams today.
With Johnson onboard, the Blue Jackets may no longer insist on acquiring a top four defenseman - Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto were the rumored targets - from the Rangers in order to make a deal.
While they might be the front-runner should they be willing to pay the price required, the Rangers do appear to still have competition for Nash. Pro Hockey Talk reports that the Toronto Maple Leafs and San Jose Sharks are also among the suitors. PHT adds that "Just about any contender with some cap space could conceivably get in the bidding, as long as they're willing to pay the price in terms of assets and Nash's $7.8 million cap hit."