Monday, July 23, 2012

Blockbuster: Rangers Acquire Rick Nash From Blue Jackets

It's safe to say nobody saw this coming when they woke up this morning. The New York Rangers have officially confirmed that they have acquired Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, defenseman Tim Erixon, and the Rangers' first round draft pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Level Draft. The Rangers also got back 21-year-old AHL defenseman Steven Delisle and a conditional third-round draft pick. The Blue Jackets would reportedly only get that draft pick back if the Rangers make it to the Stanley Cup Finals this upcoming season.

Click below to read more on my thoughts on this blockbuster trade, as well as the official press release from the Rangers.

You can read the Rangers' official press release here.

My first thoughts upon reading that this deal was going down were a combination of total shock, excitement, and fear of what the Rangers were going to give up. But once details began trickling out I can't tell you how thrilled I was that Glen Sather acquired one of the best goal-scorers in the league who is signed for five more years, and he did it without giving up anyone who truly is part of the Rangers' core going forward. Glen Sather reportedly had this same offer on the table back at the trade deadline in February, plus he was willing to include more draft picks in the deal, but Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson chose to wait and wait and wait before eventually dealing Nash. Clearly, Columbus' asking price dropped dramatically from when Rick Nash first requested a trade until today because I remember hearing there was no way the Rangers would be able to get him without including a combination of Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh, and Marc Staal. Low and behold, Sather got his man and kept his.

As far as the trade itself goes, I just think it's an absolute steal for the Rangers. They gave up several young players, but these were players that were made expendable with the emergence of kids like Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan in recent years. I've always been a big supporter of Dubi, and there's no doubt he's gonna be the guy I'll personally miss the most. He was just such a heart and soul guy and a fan favorite who played with his heart on his sleeve. It always sucks to see a kid who came up through a team's system and grew up before our eyes get traded away, but that's life and the business of sports. It's unfortunate for Dubinsky that one bad season ultimately gave the Rangers the flexibility to be able to move him. It'll be weird for me to see Dubi in another uniform next season considering a year or two ago he was thought to be an untouchable part of this team, and almost as much of a core guy here as Ryan Callahan. Hopefully, Dubi can go onto have a nice bounce back season in Columbus and put this past season behind him. He's a good kid, and I hope things work out for him.

Dubinsky already took some time out to thank Rangers fans and the organization on his Twitter that you can read here.

Anisimov was a kid that I was never truly as high on as some other Rangers fans. There's no doubt within the last two years Artie turned himself into a much better two-way player, but up to this point in his career he's been a very streaky scorer who hasn't really found his niche. The Rangers had a logjam at center with Brad Richards and Derek Stepan being the team's top two centers for the next many years, and ultimately Anisimov was the odd man out. I really like Anisimov as a kid and the energy he brought to this team, however I just thought long-term he really wasn't going to have a spot on this team going forward. If I had my choice between keeping him or Stepan I would always prefer Stepan, and it's clear the Rangers felt that way, too.

Tim Erixon is the biggest piece the Rangers gave up in this trade. With Chris Kreider already graduating to the NHL, Erixon was really the Rangers' best overall prospect in the organization. I have no doubt he's going to turn into a stud defenseman as he continues to fill out and put on muscle, but like Dubinsky and Anisimov, the bottom line is that Erixon was just an expendable piece that the Rangers could afford to give up. The Rangers are stacked on defense for years to come with Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, and Michael Del Zotto, and have kids like Dylan McIlrath waiting in the wings. When you consider that the Rangers basically have their top four defensemen set for the next several years, you could say they traded a kid who turned into more of a luxury than a necessity. We all know that once John Tortorella finds his go-to guys he's going to give them all the minutes they can handle, and maybe the Rangers just felt like for that reason they could get away with filling out the rest of their defense with low-cost veterans for the next few years. But if you're going to trade for a truly great player like Rick Nash, you're gonna have to give up something of great value. It's clear Eirxon was that something, but this was still just too good of a deal for Glen Sather to pass up.

Moving forward, the Rangers have immediately improved their team for the short and long-term, as well. Rick Nash is still only 28 years old and entering the prime of his career and it should be fun to watch a player of his caliber playing with a playmaker like Brad Richards (assuming he plays on his line, of course). I also think having a power forward who can score like Nash on the team will really rub off on Chris Kreider to show him how he can utilize his size and his big frame to score goals in this league. With Marian Gaborik on the shelf until November or December the Rangers needed to make a move to bring in a big offensive player who can share the load with Gaby and Richards, and Nash is that guy. He's a perennial 30-40 goal-scorer, he's a good skater, and he's strong; all qualities the Rangers really needed to add to the team this offseason.

The only bad part about today for Rangers fans is that it's only July 23, and we have a long wait until hockey season begins!


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