Dean Lombardi doesn’t want to change the defense and the “backend”. He just wants to add offense. “But to trade for Rick Nash, he has to gut the backend, right?” He doesn’t see it that way. Let me explain Lombardi’s thought process:

The most recent word is the following package is in play for Rick Nash – Jonathan Bernier, Jack Johnson, Andrei Loktionov & “more.” Break it down:

1. Jonathan Bernier is a talent. He has all the potential in the world to be a star goalie in the NHL. But Dean Lombardi would tell you he already has one of those in Jonathan Quick and he has waiting in the wings one of Martin Jones, Jeff Zatkoff & Christopher Gibson. Dean is not going to rely yet on one of those kids to take the number 2 spot. He will trade for that or Curtis Sanford will come the other way. Regardless, he looks at Jonathan Bernier as a hole he can fill before the trade deadline while the younger goalies develop and ultimately one of them slips into the number two spot. If one of them does not, a back up goalie is easier to find than a starter.

2. Jack Johnson. I love JJ. Have not been shy about saying so. But, once again, Lombardi’s mentality points to the fillable hole. If Jack Johnson leaves, that leaves us with Doughty, Voynov, Mitchell, Scuderi, Greene and Martinez with Thomas Hickey, Nic Deslauriers and others on the outside looking in. I am not saying I agree with it but that is the mentality.

3. Andrei Loktionov: Where are the Kings deep? Goaltending, defense and center. What is Loktionov? A center. His departure would have little impact on the present scoring situation because Andrei Loktionov is presently not scoring. He also cannot crack the top 6 because (a) he has not been effective in a very short test study at wing and (b) Kopitar and Richards have the 1 and 2 spots locked up. There is also Jarret Stoll and players like Brad Richardson and Trevor Lewis who Dean, in his mind, believes can fill that role in the present time. “I am not going to miss out on an elite winger over a third line center” may be exactly what Dean Lombardi is thinking.

4. “More”: This wil be interesting and may be the deal maker or breaker. What “more” does Columbus want if they were happy with the above 3 players? Picks. They need to rebuild and thus need 1st and 2nd round draft picks. We know how much Lombardi likes his 1st round picks (before Dustin Penner that is) so he can pick up that defenseman we don’t need or the bottom six center we already have – will Dean Lombardi part with a 1st and 2nd or perhaps even a couple of 1st rounders in a deal like this? That is a tough sell and it’s ironic the picks may be the reason this deal does not happen – the “picks” for a player we have not drafted, have not seen and may or may not amount to much of anything.

There are arguments both ways on a trade like this. I do think it comes down to the “more” factor. If I am Howson, I stand pat. I get this as close as possible to the trade deadline and unless an offer gives me an orgasm, I don’t move Nash. That is why Dean Lombardi is both in a bidding war and negotiating from a position of weakness (read: “need”). Good negotiators know that and make sure they don’t get their ass handed to them.

As a bonus, let’s look at the L.A. Kings lines if Bernier, Johnson, Loktionov and a 1st go the other way. These are my lines. Yours may vary. Remember that Nash can play left or right wing.

Penner-Kopitar-Nash (the triple towers line)

Clifford-Richards-Williams (brawn-brains-beauty line)

Nolan-Stoll-Brown (Brown is not a top 6 forward on a Cup contender line)

Richardson-Fraser-Lewis (crash boom bang line)

(extras: Westgarth and King)

Doughty-Mitchell

Voynov-Scuderi

Greene-Martinez

Quick

Backup (I weep for Jonathan Bernier)

p.s. As of 4:30 PST today (February 20, 2012), Bob McKenzie considers the Kings the favorite to land Rick Nash. Seems to be a growing consensus.

p.p.s. When will Rich Hammond drop the term “Insider” from his title? While everyone in the hockey world is talking about Rick Nash and the L.A. Kings and as reports are coming out about specifically what the L.A. Kings have offered in exchange, where is Hammond? A quote, anything from Lombardi? Anything from Hextall? Even a “we’re in discussion but not at liberty to talk further?” Insider, eh? Rich Hammond’s new nickname is “paycheck.” We will substitute it with “mushroom” as the mood strikes.