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Rangers remain front-runners for Nash.

NEW YORK POST/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/NEWSDAY: reports the Rangers remain among the clubs interested in acquiring Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash. The Post claims the Rangers are holding firm against moving defensemen Michael Del Zotto and Ryan McDonagh, and prospect Chris Kreider, but would be willing to part with defenseman Tim Erixon. Brandon Dubinsky is considered part of the offer to Columbus. It’s believed the Rangers moved Wojtek Wolski to the Panthers yesterday to free up additional cap space for a big move. It’s also been reported the Blue Jackets are interested in center Derek Stepan. The Rangers also didn’t place Sean Avery on re-entry waivers before the deadline, effectively eliminating his chances of returning to the NHL this season. He’s a UFA this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets are also facing pressure from Nash’s agent, who made it clear yesterday the list of preferred destinations for his client won’t change if they decide to shop him this summer. Though I still think the Jackets could get a better return in the off-season, this could pressure them to make a move before the deadline.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, prior to last night’s game against Washington, dismissed the notion of blowing up the depth he’s built over the past three years on a panic move by the trade deadline in hopes of squeaking into the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If we take Burke at his word, it could mean he’s out of the Rick Nash sweepstakes, and won’t be peddling Luke Schenn or Mikhail Grabovski by tomorrow’s deadline.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: cited a report by Sportsnet’s John Shannon claiming the Stars were “listening to everything about almost everybody over the age of 27.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars are also battling for one of the final playoff berths in the Western Conference, which means they won’t move players like Steve Ott, Mike Ribeiro or Brenden Morrow unless they get something in return which helps them clinch a playoff berth.

VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports the Canucks are open to trade offers now that they’ve placed Keith Ballard on LTIR, freeing up an additional $4.2 million in cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s plenty of speculation the Canucks are interested in Steve Ott, but as I noted above, I don’t believe the Stars will move him unless they get a return which helps them right now.

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports it’s unlikely the Flyers will make a big move at the trade deadline.

MERCURYNEWS.COM: David Pollak reports Sharks GM Doug Wilson said the health of his players could be a factor in any decisions he makes approaching the deadline. (Hat tip to GJ Berg for the link).

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Damian Cristodero speculates if it’s worthwhile for the Lightning to pursue Blues minor league goalie Ben Bishop.