New York makes splash with Nash
The Rangers have a new sheriff in town.
The Blueshirts have just pulled of the biggest trade of the summer; landing Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets. The cost was high. But the return could be immense.
To land the former Columbus captain and all-time leading scorer, the Rangers traded Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first-round draft pick to the Jackets. This price may seem steep, but it is actually a great deal for New York.
With 30, Nash had more goals than the three aforementioned former Rangers combined last season. As crazy as it sounds, Nash actually had a down year last season. His shooting percentage (9.8) was the lowest of his career. His goal total was the worst since 2006-2007. Yes, he may have been distracted by trade rumors. Still he managed 59 points. He also did so on the worst team in the NHL, and without a true number one centerman.
The supporting cast should be a little better in the Big Apple. Joining the Rangers, Nash will probably find himself centered by Brad Richards. Richards is considered on of the premier passers in the league, so 50 goals wouldn’t be out of the question next season for Nash. With the injury to Marian Gaborik, the team needed to add offense. Nash should prove more than capable.
New York also gets a leader. Nash has long been the captain of Columbus; and even when the chips were down, always seemed to give his best effort. Nash is another marketable superstar. With the rival Flyers signing world-class defenseman Shea Weber to an offer, the Rangers needed to make a splash. They instead made a tidal wave.
It didn’t come cheap however, but I don’t think the Rangers really gave up as much as people think. Anisimov and Dubinsky have both been top-six forwards at times, but have failed to consistently stay there. Dubinsky was supposed to be the center of the future, but failed to live up to expectations or his large contract. He finally seemingly found a place last season as a third-line shutdown center, but the Rangers are deep down the middle. Moving Dubinsky and his large contract also gives the Rangers more cap flexibility.
Anisimov has also failed to live up to expectations. He has the versatility to play both center and wing and a great set of hands. Unfortunately, he is immature, takes bad penalties and sometimes seems disinterested. Erixon is a solid two-way defensive prospect, but the Rangers do have considerable depth in that area.
From the perspective of Columbus, they did address their biggest need: they added strength down the middle. With the presence of Derick Brassard, it is possible that one of the newly acquired forwards will play wing (something they both have done), but they absolutely needed a top-line center. Columbus also improved their future outlook with Erixon and the first-round pick. Erixon should be ready to become a full-time NHL defenseman this season.
Columbus also took quite a gamble. Dubinsky and Anisimov have a reputation as offensive underachievers. It’s possible that they will rediscover their touch with a larger role, but it’s no guarantee. The inclusion of Anisimov is particularly surprising, as the team has been burned by highly-regarded Russian forwards in the past (i.e Filatov, Zherdev and Fedorov).
Still, Nash wanted out. A deal had to get done. Could they have gotten more? Perhaps. GM Scott Howson’s job may be contingent on the final verdict. But at least the shadow of doubt is finally lifted. Now the team can move on.
This trade should also have implications around the league. Many other teams that were in on Nash will now have to look elsewhere. Many other players were left in holding patterns until this played out. Don’t be surprised if Alexander Semin, Shane Doan and Petr Sykora all sign soon. This also opens the door for Anaheim to trade their own disgruntled winger Bobby Ryan.
More dominoes will fall before the season starts (hopefully) this fall.
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