Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson said he’s comfortable with the current roster he’s got heading into this season’s training camp after trading Captain Rick Nash to the New York Rangers today in exchange for forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, defenseman Tim Erixon and a first round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.
“We’ll see what happens the rest of summer,” Howson added. “If we see something that’s going to help us, we’re going to do it.”
The Rangers also received defenseman Steven Delisle and a conditional third round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft in the deal.
“There was a little bit of negotiating today,” said Howson. “This is pretty much the deal we talked about on Friday; we just needed to have the weekend.”
Nash, the No.1 overall pick in the 2002 draft to the Jackets, asked for the trade in January after he was told by management the club was going through a reshaping phase. Nash has a no-trade clause and therefore was able to choose which club he would go to in a trade. That tied Howson’s hands a bit in terms of what he could get in exchange for the star forward, Olympian and All-Star.
“We talked to a number of teams. A number outside the list,” Howson said, adding he was attempting to gauge the market in terms of value for the forward who has scored more than 30 goals in each of the last five seasons. “Ultimately, Rick was in control. It certainly limited the teams we talked to seriously.”
But the Rangers were always interested, said Howson, and they got the deal done with a trade he said he’s “pleased” with. Howson said today’s trade brought the Jackets a good package, despite Dubinsky struggling some last season.
“I have no issue with Brandon bouncing back,” said Howson, adding he believes Dubinsky can be a 15 to 20-goal scorer. “He impacted games every time he played.”
Moving past the Nash era, Howson said he sees defense as the base of this team.
“We believe the strength of our team is defense,” said Howson. “We think that’s a very good blue line.”
The new look of the club also has some size to it, said Howson, and speed.
“We think upfront we’re going to be fast and competitive,” said Howson, adding they’ve now got some size down the middle. “We think we have a more balanced, versatile group upfront. We think we have six to seven people who can get 15 to 25 goals.”
And with that, said Howson, he expects to se some higher numbers in the win column.
“It’s about winning right now, for sure,” said Howson. “This is not a trade where we think, ‘We’ll be better five years from now.’ We think we can be better next year and we think these players can help us do that.”