Big Night for Blue Jackets, Vermette off to Phoenix

(2/22/12) According to ESPN, the Rangers, Kings, Canucks, Senators, Penguins, Canadiens, Coyotes, and Red Wings had representatives in attendance to watch the Blue Jackets game Tuesday.  They undoubtedly liked what they saw, as the Jackets won 6-3 over the Sharks, and a number of players on the trade block produced big performances.

The biggest came from Jeff Carter, who posted a hat-trick and showed off the difference-making talent that has GMs clamoring for his services.  Carter probably could have come out for a couple of laps in the zamboni and the situation would be exactly the same, but this performance cements his status as one of the few true impact-players available at the deadline.  The latest rumors have Carter heading west to the Kings, where he would be reunited with former Flyers teammate Mike Richards.

Rick Nash, the other big dog on the Columbus trade block, also had an impressive game.  He recorded a goal and an assist and was plus-two on the night.  It seems like Nash's name has been linked to half the teams in the league, but the Rangers and Leafs seem to be amongst the front-runners to obtain his services, and some of the loudest rumblings are now coming out of San Jose.  

Several other possible trade candidates had solid outings, as R.J. Umberger had a goal and an assist, Vinny Prospal posted three helpers, Derick Brassard notched two, and Antoine Vermette had one.

Speaking of Vermette, sound the alarm!  The fire sale is officially under way in Columbus, as Vermette is off to Phoenix in exchange for a second round pick in 2012, a conditional fifth rounder in 2013, and minor-league netminder Curtis McElhinney.  

Through 60 games, Vermette has 27 points, and we don't believe his totals will change in Phoenix one way or the other.  The Coyotes do have more offensive potency than Columbus, but they also have the league's worst power-play, with a paltry 13.7% conversion rate, and don't exactly play a high-flying style.  One area where Vermette is likely to improve is plus-minus.  The Blue Jackets are last in the NHL in goal differential at minus-46, while the Coyotes rank ninth overall at plus-12.