When the Rick Nash Sweepstakes resume after the season, the San Jose Sharks will be front and center in the bidding.
That team could have a fascinating offseason. In the meantime, though, the Sharks need to refocus and resume winning some games.
San Jose is 3-8-1 in its last 12 games. As a result, the Phoenix Coyotes have moved into the Pacific Division lead with Dallas and Los Angeles also in hot pursuit.
“It's tough to put a finger on it, but we're obviously in a funk, and we've got to get out of it,” defenseman Douglas Murray told reporters “We've got to work hard -- the same old cliches -- but we've got to get it going. Enough is enough.
“It's the same as always, if we knew the solution, we'd take care of it. You talk about it, but you've just got to go out and do it. It's easy to talk, but you've just got to get it done on the ice.”
San Jose offensive struggles were magnified during a 3-1 loss to the visiting St. Louis Blues. The return of center Logan Couture to active duty didn’t make much of a difference.
“They give up the fewest amount of shots per game in the league, we knew we were only going to get 6-7 Grade-A scoring chances,” center Joe Thornton said of the Blues. “They block a lot of shots, that's the way they play. So you knew you weren't going to get a lot of chances. We thought it was going to be a 1-0, 2-1 type game.”
The absence of coach Todd McLellan to a concussion – the result of a freakish incident on the bench – has complicated matters for the Sharks. Assistant coach Matt Shaw has been filling in.
“It's always work and resolve and the attitude that we're going to overcome any bumps in the road,” Shaw told the San Jose Mercury News. “It's not a magic wand or a switch.”
The first Blue Jacket to fly off the racks this week was former 27-goal scorer Antoine Vermette. The handy supporting cast scorer fetched a 2012 second-round pick from Phoenix along with a fifth-round pick in 2013 goaltender Curtis McElhinney.
And so the great Columbus sell-off began in earnest.
“This is moving forward,” Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson said, according to the Columbus Dispatach. “We have to move forward. It wasn't working this season as we expected. We're going to move forward and this is part of the process of reshaping the team.”
McElhinney is recovering from abdominal surgery and is not expected to play again this season. He is a pending free agent as well. The Coyotes needed to get him off their 50-man roster to create space for positive additions.
The Blue Jackets played along to facilitate this deal, which moved Vermette’s onerous four-year, $15 million contract down the trail.
“This gives us more flexibility,” Howson said. “It's never fun trading anybody. I don't think any GM enjoys that. But this is about us moving the team forward.”
Blue Jackets power forward Rick Nash remains the primary trade target for other teams. Interest in Nash is running high from the East Coast (Rangers) to West Coast (Sharks) and just about everywhere in between.
Columbus would love to pry Logan Couture from San Jose, but so far the Sharks haven’t been willing to go to that extreme to get Nash.
How Russians sell hockey tickets
The Hot List
Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins, Joe Pavelski, Ryan Getzlaf, Alexander Semin.
The Cold List
Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers,John Tavares, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Vancouver Canucks,