We’re going to do a Live Rick Nash Chat Tuesday at noon right here (where else?). So bring your lunch back to your desk, and bring me some questions or comments on the Nash trade, or on what else is in store, and if you think the Rangers right now are different or better or worse than they were when the season ended. Or just bring some of the usual (g)jibberish.
Here’s my story from The Journal News and LoHud.com:
By Rick Carpiniello
In the end, when the Rangers made the blockbuster trade that had been in the making since February, it was more about the players they didn’t give up than the ones they did.
The Rangers got their sniper Monday when they completed a deal with Columbus for big Rick Nash, who has played at a star level for nine NHL seasons and is still just 28 years old.
The Rangers have up forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, and defenseman (and Port Chester native) Tim Erixon, plus a first-round draft pick in 2013 in exchange for Nash, minor-league defenseman Steve Delisle and a conditional 2013 third-round pick (which goes back to the Blue Jackets if the Rangers reach the Stanley Cup final).
But the Rangers didn’t give up Chris Kreider or Derek Stepan or Ryan McDonagh or Michael Del Zotto — all of whom have been rumored and/or reported to have been demanded/requested by Columbus GM Scott Howson since the talks heated up prior to the February trade deadline.
“It took a long time, I’ll tell you that much,” Rangers GM Glen Sather said Monday, adding that he’d been in touch with Howson very regularly since Nash originally asked to be traded and submitted the list of teams to which he’d waive his no-trade clause — a list that had the Rangers on top.
“We’re always trying to improve the team,” Sather said. “That’s an ongoing struggle. But the opportunity was here before the deadline. We couldn’t make it go. We’ve felt like we’d always like to have a little more offense, especially with (Marian) Gaborik being out until sometime in November (after shoulder surgery). I think that once Gaborik gets together (with Nash) we’ve got some pretty good offensive players now.
“So this changes the complexion of our team. It’s probably not going to change the way we play, but his ability — he’s a world-class player and he’s very excited to be coming to New York. We were one of his chosen few right from the beginning.”
New York was high on the list of Nash, who is big (6-4, 216) enough for the Eastern Conference, and has the skating and hand skills of a sniper. Nash scored 41 goals as a 19-year-old, and is one of only four players (joining Jarome Iginla, Ilya Kovalchuk and Alex Ovechkin) to have scored 30 or more goals in each of the past five seasons. He has played in more all-star games (five) than playoff games (four) with Columbus.
Nash said he went to Howson last season to see which way the Blue Jackets were going, and was told there would be a rebuild coming. “I’ve been here nine years now and I figured I could be the main piece of a rebuild for them,” he said. “In that case, if the circumstance was right, I’d waive my no-trade clause and help them rebuild and help my career carry on.
“In finding a team, I just thought the Rangers were perfect. I think they’ve got an amazing team. Last season they were one of the best teams, and I just think it’s a great fit for my style. … I think they’re already one of the top teams in the league and the players that they have there, it’s pretty impressive from the goaltender to the defense and right on up. I’m happy to be part of the organization and part of the whole city.”
Dubinsky had a nightmarish season after signing a four-year deal worth $4.2 million per last summer, and he and Anisimov both underachieved, calling into question whether either will ever be a top-six forward. Erixon, the son of former Ranger Jan Erixon, was a top prospect, but the Rangers top four are set on defense for a long time.
Nash’s $7.8 million annual salary cap hit (which has six years remaining) was not a concern with Dubinsky’s money going the other way and the Rangers, even after this trade, still have more than $13.39 million left to spend under the current cap, which could change with the new CBA negotiations.
Sather said that adding Nash “doesn’t eliminate the opportunity to try and pursue somebody else at this time.” That means Shane Doan, the 35-year-old Phoenix captain with size, grit and character, most likely. The Rangers could also still have plenty left if they want to fill holes, such as a second or third-pair right-shooting defenseman.
AP photo, above.