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.
Las Vegas could probably get a betting pool together with odds set on which NHL free agent will be the proverbial domino, as in the one player who signs or gets traded that causes all other players and teams to finally act in the middle of what has been a very stagnant off-season. So far, we have had plenty of single dominoes, but no domino effect. Anyway, at least we finally have some major news to talk about, regarding the other star defenseman on the Nashville Predators, Shea Weber, and the little offer sheet situation he and his team are involved in. Let’s take a look at that, and more, as we go “Around the NHL”…
Since it’s now been a few days since I caused that melee on Twitter with a certain Rick Nash rumor, I thought that it was now okay to go ahead with another hockey post. I just want to say that it seemed more people actually approved of the experiment than disapproved, though there were plenty who felt the latter. It’s funny that the people I know on Twitter, whether it be through actually talking to them on a regular basis or just casually following (even those who were not aware of the nature of the plot) were not angry at all, yet all these people who just came out of the woodwork were quick to call me names and attack me. I was left with this lasting impression: the lower the IQ, the higher the overreaction. Okay, now we’re moving on, and ready to go “Around the NHL”…
Has there ever been a more boring start to an NHL off-season than this one? Granted, the free-agent pool might not be as deep as it has been in years past, and is only going to keep on getting thinner due to all of these mega-deals, but still, there are enough names out there for this to have been a pretty exciting few weeks in July. It’s funny that when Ryan Suter and Zach Parise actually signed, aside from the initial, “Wow! Minnesota got both!” reaction, the excitement was limited, and people stopped talking about it within two days. Now if Parise had gone to the Rangers, Flyers, or Penguins, and Suter to the Red Wings, not only would we still be talking about it, but suicide hotline workers would be raking in overtime cash.
While I never grew up with any aspirations of working in radio by any means, I must say that co-hosting two online radio shows from July 2008- April 2009 made me give it some serious thought. The first, with which I worked on with Alan Bass, who has since gone on to write a book about the 1967 NHL Expansion and work with The Hockey News, introduced me to the field, and although it was a little stressful, proved to be a rewarding experience. He was a freshman in college at the time, and I was a high school senior. With absolutely nothing on our resumes, we were still able to get some pretty neat guests on what we quickly dubbed NHL 2Day, which made the show more interesting, and allowed us to be a little more daring with our interview requests in the future. While broadcasting on the free sports service YouCastr, we landed analysts Jim Jackson (TV; Flyers), Dave Mishkin (Radio; Lightning), and Kenny Albert (Radio; Rangers), as well as my favorite guest, then-current New York Rangers goaltender Steve Valiquette, and a prospect who is currently playing for the Nashville Predators, Colin Wilson. After I left the show in November because of scheduling conflicts, Alan was able to get the legendary Mike “Doc” Emrick, and later, the General Manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Scott Howson. Within weeks after leaving, though, I started up another show, called Rinkside!, with a fellow senior at my high school, Brett Bodner, who is now a journalism major and my assistant editor over at The Proprietary Times in Perth Amboy.
These past few days have just been up and down with rumors, most revolving around Columbus Blue Jackets’ superstar winger Rick Nash, with nobody seeming to know anything at all about what is really transpiring. But before all of that, we had a couple of big deals, the first being Jeff Carter dealt to Los Angeles by Columbus so he could be re-united with former drinking buddy, err…I mean, teammate from Philadelphia, Mike Richards. The return on the trade was defenseman Jack Johnson and a first round pick. With that, I would say both teams made out rather well. The Blue Jackets get some much-needed offense from the blue line, though Johnson’s defense is anything but solid (I guess you can say he’ll fit right in, then?) as he currently sits at a -12 on the season, and a -90 overall for his career. That’s scary to think about, considering the offense he has put up. Carter, meanwhile, will help a stagnant Kings’ offense, as he will personally be revitalized by playing with a big market team in a city full of night life. You can expect him and Richards to be the bash-brothers they were with the Flyers.
For the past several games, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been showing a serious interest in the New York Rangers, so much so, that on Saturday in Philadelphia, their General Manager Scott Howson was in attendance as well. While no one knows exactly who they are interested in, or if the Rangers are even willing to make a deal, we do know that something is definitely brewing, because it is not often that a team’s GM tags along to scout a game. This leaves us to speculate on who exactly could be on the move within the next couple of weeks. There are only two players on the Blue Jackets that would even come remotely close to helping them, but each one comes with some serious baggage by means of an enormous contract. They are center Jeff Carter and left wing Rick Nash. Even though the Rangers sit in first place in the Eastern Conference, they are in no doubt in need of another offensive presence, yes, even after Gaborik and Richards seem to have broken out of their funk over this past weekend. But at what cost will the Rangers act?