It finally happened. The trade that everyone has been waiting for just went down, and that was the New York Rangers acquiring Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first blockbuster of the off-season. There were many guesses as to whether or not it would take an overpayment to get him, but I held fast with Glen Sather saying it would either be a robbery, or he would not be acquired at all. The magician has just completed his latest trick, because the Rangers somehow managed to only send Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and a first round pick. The Rangers also received a third round pick and a defenseman back from Columbus. All told, the Rangers still have more than $13 million in cap space, with nearly a full roster, as the only two players awaiting to be re-signed are restricted free agents Anton Stralman and Michael Del Zotto. Glen Sather has put himself in a wonderful position here to acquire more, some believing that Shane Doan will be signed shortly. The Rangers are also expected to pursue a defenseman.
In getting to Rick Nash, I certainly was on the fence about him because of his struggles, but one can attribute that to him playing on one of the worst teams in the league year after year. He is one of the best power forwards in the game and has scored 30 or more goals in each of the last five seasons, and seven out of his nine in the NHL. He has even hit the 40-goal plateau twice, in 2003 and 2008. Though he does not fight and hit as much as he used to, the 28-year-old forward is still a force to be reckoned with and will enormously help the Rangers for the first few months of the season when Marian Gaborik makes his return from surgery. For the first time in ages, the Rangers have solid 40-goal threats on both the first and second line.
If anyone is angered by what the Rangers gave up in this deal, then I don’t know what to tell you. Dubinsky was coming of a disastrous season where he scored only 10 goals and 24 assists, while earning $4.2 million. Artem Anisimov is a good defensive forward, but is never going to be anything more than a 40-point scorer, who brings no physicality whatsoever. As for Erixon, I liked him, but now one can only wonder if he would have blossomed into something special, or would just be an average defenseman—I suppose we will find out next season in Columbus. I wish the trio the best of luck. The Rangers have also drafted well in recent years, stockpiling a plethora of prospects, so they will not be badly hurt by the loss of their first rounder. Besides, most of the gems the Rangers take usually come in late rounds anyway.
All in all, it’s a steal for the Rangers and a move they had to make to up their offense and keep pace with the other teams in the Atlantic Division, especially Philadelphia if they get Shea Weber. It’s hard to not gush over this deal, and even more when you see the amount of cap space they still have. The Rangers are not done, though, and you know it. Hopefully the team will continue to get even better.
P.S: I don’t know why everyone is so surprised at this. After all, I called it weeks ago!