It's the long and short of why Rick Nash wasn't trade at the deadline and why Howson won't trade him at the Draft. Mostly because I believe that Howson won't be there for the Blue Jackets come Draft time. Fact of the matter is that Howson was in a lose-lose situation.
First off, he probably couldn't trade Nash because the price he was asking for return was much to high for teams to pay. Even though Nash is a talent, the odds are that his lack of playoff experience doesn't warrant trading away the chemistry you have on your team, as well as mortgaging the future, even if Nash will be around during his prime with the team.
Second, Howson didn't want to hamstring his team he's working for being responsible for trading the face of the franchise, especially if it doesn't work out in the end. Should Howson's tenure end in Columbus and trading the biggest name on his team for what could be nothing won't look good on any resume you'd be showing to prospective employers.
Third, and I think most important, Scott Howson is not long for the Columbus Blue Jackets organization and may not have been allowed to actually move Nash, regardless of the price. It's been a bad year for Howson and the decisions added to the lack of solid play could have hamstrung Howson for the long-run. Sure, injuries could be claimed in the case of summer pick-ups James Wisniewski and recently-traded Jeff Carter, but at the same time-- the goaltending wasn't solid, the rest of the team didn't pick up any slack, and the star player was merely a footnote with only 21 goals and 22 assists as the captain of the team.
Granted, that stuff is out of Howson's control, but didn't make the team better in the long-run. It almost seems like a lame-duck move for him ask so much or be told to ask for so much by the ownership. Considering he didn't make many other moves of note either, shows that he is probably not in control and come April, he'll be in the unemployment line.
Another clue to his demise could be how Howson broke down the fourth wall and threw the star player under the bus and making himself the victim. When you do something like that, you're already breaking down a more fragile situation and maybe it very awkward for players and upper management to believe in you and trust in your decision making. That, to me, put the final nail into the coffin for Howson's tenure.
Like always, I'm probably wrong and that the dreaded "Vote of Confidence" that may come is actually geniune and Howson will stay, but his decision making has been fairly suspect and hasn't yield much success for the franchise in the grand scheme of things. If he would have traded Nash, he would have been run out of town by the fans, with him not trading Nash and then putting private matters out to the public, he could be run out by his own peers.