An NHL agent said of the Blue Jackets this week: "So, you've got the 30th-place team in the league extending the contract of a 37-year-old player (Vinny Prospal), giving him a no-trade clause, and at the same time scratching a 19-year-old rookie (Ryan Johansen) who was just at the All-Star Game."

The suggestion was that no one can quite get a read on the Blue Jackets.

The Blue Jackets have two weeks until the NHL trade deadline arrives on Feb. 27 to show their hand, to reveal to the rest of the league if they are making two or three big moves to fix their roster, or if they are going to start a two- or three-year rebuilding project.

One of the Blue Jackets' desires is known: they are attempting to trade center Jeff Carter, who arrived less than eight months ago as the savior after the franchise went a decade without a No.?1 center.

How did it get to this point? Why are the Blue Jackets dead set on dealing Carter, a 40-goal scorer with one of the best wrist shots in the NHL?

General manager Scott Howson, who was in New York to watch the Rangers and Flyers play yesterday, will not speak publicly about Carter or any other deals he's hoping to make.

Carter's agent, Rick Curran, won't speak publicly either, except to confirm that Carter has not requested a trade.