TSN's Darren Dreger reported two items of varying degrees of hilarity on Thursday. First was that the Carolina Hurricanes are no longer in pursuit of Rick Nash, which is understandable when Nash didn't have the Canes on his list of preferable destinations.

The second bit of information is the punchline:

"Columbus Blue Jackets believed to be after Jeff Skinner. Non-starter."

Jeff Skinner, you'll recall, won the Calder Trophy and has 107 points in his first 146 NHL games, all played before his 21st birthday.

Now, there are three reasons we can fathom for GM Scott Howson reportedly asking for Jeff Skinner here. The first is that this is, after all, a negotiation. You start high, they start low, you meet in the middle. Of course, asking for Jeff Skinner isn't starting high; it's ludicrous.

Unless it's actually Theory No. 2, in which Jeff Skinner is seen as equal value for Rick Nash; this might not be too outlandish given their abilities and track records, until you factor in potential and the concept of player decline after a certain age in the NHL. Nash is old and busted, Skinner is the new hotness, in Will Smith parlance.

Theory No. 3 is that Howson believes Skinner's next contract — he goes RFA next summer — will make the Hurricanes' budget explode on the heels of Jordan Staal's 10-year deal, and saw the chance to swoop in to grab Skinner.

If that's the case … hey, it was worth a shot, Howson. Or perhaps he simply wants to prevent GM Jim Rutherford from the eventual heartbreak of having to trade a beloved franchise player for one reason or another, and then finding the market isn't going to offer up the gold-plated unicorns that are your asking price. Because obviously Howson would know.

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