Rick Nash Trade Rumors: New York Rangers Still Top Contender For Blue Jackets Captain

We're just about 48 hours ahead of the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline now, and the Rick Nash trade rumors are picking up even more steam. Yes, the New York Rangers are the front-runners. Still.

Glen Sather's trade of Wojtek Wolski on Saturday afternoon freed up approximately $3.8 million in cap space for the Rangers, which could give them the necessary wiggle room to take on Nash's $7.8 million cap hit, depending on exactly what would be going back to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a potential deal.

That's the point of concern for Rangers fans. One report claimed that prospect Tim Erixon, a first-round pick and one of either Ryan McDonagh or Michael Del Zotto could be the deal for Nash, which would fall in line with Scott Howson's reported asking price for his franchise player.

But that seems like a curious deal from the Rangers perspective, considering the strength and depth of their defense has been perhaps their most impressive quality of their ascent to the top of the Eastern Conference this season. Losing one of two young defensemen who have been vital parts of that success and are clear parts of the future of the Rangers blueline would be an extremely high price to pay. Throw in the organization's best defensive prospect in Erixon and the potential deal makes you even more curious.

That doesn't mean a trade of Erixon doesn't make sense at all. It's a high price to pay, but anybody attempting to acquire Nash is going to pay for him, and considering the Maple Leafs and Sharks are also interested in Nash's services, the Rangers have to be the high bidder here. With prospect Chris Kreider reportedly off the table, Erixon might just have to be part of a deal if Sather wants to get it done.

You can get team-by-team coverage of the 2012 NHL trade deadline from around our network of hockey blogs. For more on the news, rumors and speculation surrounding the trade deadline, subscribe to our StoryStream.

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