Columbus general manager Scott Howson is not saying much about his quest to trade captain Rick Nash.
"We are working very hard" was about the limit of the conversation Howson had Thursday about the situation. He also added that he is not facing a deadline to make a deal.
Just about everyone else believes that things should be heating up.
Nash, the Blue Jackets' leader in most offensive categories, revealed midway through the season that he had asked to be traded. He has a no-trade clause in his contract and has given the club a list of possible destinations.
It was thought that once top free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed (both with Minnesota Wednesday), interest in Nash would climb. Among the reported suitors are the New York Rangers, Detroit, San Jose, Carolina and Philadelphia.
Since this was an already sparse free-agent crop in terms of offensive firepower, Nash should be a prized commodity. It's a question whether teams want to meet Howson's asking price, believed to be a couple of top young NHL-ready players with a high draft pick or two.
Last season, Nash scored 30 goals and added 29 assists, but had a career worst minus-19 plus/minus.
Of course, that number also has a lot to do with his teammates, and the Blue Jackets were far and away the worst team in the NHL this past season.
Nash has four years remaining on his contract, with a cap hit of $7.8 million.
But benefits could far outstrip the cost for a team that needs a 6-foot-4, 219-pound forward with a knack for finding the net.
Philadelphia signed two free agents, forward Ruslan Fedotenko and defenseman Bruno Gervais. Fedotenko, entering his 12th NHL season, will make $1.75 million under his one-year contract. Gervais, who had six goals and 13 points in 50 games for Tampa Bay last season after spending his first six seasons with the New York Islanders, will make an average of $825,000 under terms of his two-year deal.
Washington re-signed restricted free-agent centers Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle. Perreault, 24, received a two-year contract worth $2.1 million. Beagle, 26, got a three-year deal worth $2.7 million.
St. Louis signed forward David Perron to a four-year, $15.25 million deal. Perron, 24, played in 57 regular-season games last season for the Blues, collecting 21 goals and 21 assists. He missed the first 25 games of the season because of concussion-like symptoms.
Calgary re-signed Swedish forward Mikael Backlund to a one-year, $725,000 deal Thursday. He had four goals and seven assists in 41 games for Calgary last season.
The NHL and NHL Players' Association met for 2 hours, 40 minutes at the league offices in New York, The league's collective bargaining agreement is set to expire Sept. 15. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr characterized the discussions at the second formal negotiating session as "business-like" but he declined to divulge any specific details.