Rick Nash’s Impact on NY Rangers
My favorite acquisition of the summer is the move made by the New York Rangers. They obtained Rick Nash via trade with Columbus Blue Jackets. The Rick Nash saga started way back in January when he asked for a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Rangers were the heavy favorites to win the Nash derby, but the trade deadline deal never came to pass as the Columbus camp demanded too lofty of a price. The rumors and trade talks continued over the summer with the deal finally being reached last week.
On Monday July 23rd, a simple tweet by Darren Dreger broke the news – the Columbus Blue Jackets trade Rick Nash, a conditional 3rd round pick (if the Rangers make the Cup final, the pick goes back to Columbus) and a minor leaguer, Steve Delisle, for forwards Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, defense prospect Tim Erixon, and a first round pick. Columbus fans, we feel for ya.
So what impact does this trade have on the New York Rangers?
The New York Rangers were one of the best defensive teams in the league last season. They developed a great young shut-down tandem in Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi. The duo rarely showed any cracks during the regular season or the playoffs, while leading the team in ice time.The entire team bought into Tortorella’s shot blocking, defense-first play style. When you add to this formula a Vezina winning goalie (a very handsome one at that), Henrik Lundqvist, you have a team that challenged Vancouver for the President trophy till the very end and went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals
So why not a cup run? What was missing?
Rick Nash, that’s what. The Rangers lacked the offensive punch, the peppers on their sausages, the vodka in their martini, the solo in a Metallica song – you know what I’m saying? Even with Marian Gaborik who was nursing a shoulder injury, they only managed to score three or more goals in seven out of their 20 playoff games. Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan had 6 goals each, while 40-goal scorer Gaborik had 5, the same amount as rookie Chris Kreider. Again, this is with 20 games played, well, if we are honest, that is rubbish. Prorated over 82 games, it equates to a 25 goal season for Richards and Callahan, 21 goals for Gaborik. There was a major lack of secondary scoring from the bottom six players and the only way they made it as far as they did was Henrik being Henrik.
Fun fact: Dubinsky had 0 goals and only 2 points in 20 playoff games. (Do not give me jiff that he had a defensive role, supposedly top 6 forwards have to score)
So why would Rick Nash make a difference? Well, as I mentioned before, he needs a high-quality center to play with to be successful. Rick is one of those rare breeds of hockey players that can score more goals than assists (289 Goals and 258 Assists). He can already score by himself, so only playing with a creative and talented center would raise his game. Someone cue Brad Richards, please. Richards helped turn Ryan Callahan into a 29 goal scorer, so imagine what he might do for Nash’s numbers (Fantasy value = sky-high). Remember the numbers that Brad, Vincent Lecavalier, and St.Louis line put up? I think that is what we are looking at here.
Rick Nash is built for the current NHL. He is 6’4″ and 216 pounds and has the speed to carry that frame around defensemen like they are silly traffic cones. His mitts are as soft as a peep when it comes to tucking the biscuit in the basket. Sadly, he has been stashed away at the bottom of the NHL standings for most of his career in Columbus, so I do not know how familiar a common Ranger fan is with him. His impact will be immediate on a team desperate for goals. The improved offense should help Henrik Lundqvist. He has been the back bone that has been keeping Rangers relevant in a highly competitive Atlantic division for a few years now. With Richards, Gaborik and Nash, Glen Sather has finally been able to field a potent offense in front of him.
The biggest advantage that Rick Nash gives the Rangers is the ability to roll two scoring lines. I would imagine Brad Richards, Rick Nash, and Callahan would make up the first line. Derek Stepan, Marian Gaborik, and Chris Kreider would make up the second unit. I am not sure if Carl Hagelin will see some top 6 minutes instead of Kreider, but anytime you can throw out two lines with potential 40 goals scorers, it must make you feel awfully confident. Nash is a good player for Torts, as Nash will do anything to win, plus he has excellent work ethic, one of Tortorella’s favorite qualities. One could see the Rangers play open up a bit with stretch passes through the neutral zone and become more of a puck possession team, instead of always playing dump and chase.
I would not put it past Rick Nash to take over the scoring lead in New York. There could be an adjustment period, especially with Gabby being out of the lineup as he will be recovering from a shoulder injury for the first few months, but look for Nash to lead this team offensively. There is doubt among some Ranger fans that I have spoken to. They doubt him because he only had 59 points last year and he only has four playoff games under his belt. They doubt him due to the size of his paycheck and lack of winning that he has delivered in Columbus. But to me they only doubt him because they do not get to see him play (fix this NHL) as often as they should. His new home arena is built for stars like him. The Garden mob is a fickle beast and can turn on players rather quickly. Nash will give them goals and they will love him for it. A Stanley Cup? And they will worship him.
Do you believe in Rick Nash?
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Obligatory Nash highlights: