Tuesday, July 24, 2012

With Rick Nash Deal, Rangers are Ready for Cup Run

Finally, the Rick Nash trade rumor saga has ended. After months of speculation, close calls, and down right insanity, the move every NHL fan was waiting for has happened. Former Blue Jackets franchise player Rick Nash is on the move, and he's taking his talents to Broadway.

At the trade deadline, rumors had surfaced that the Blue Jackets asking price from the Rangers included the rights to the eventual standout playoff rookie Chris Kreider, and young gun Defenseman Ryan McDonagh. Colombus GM Scott Howson had tried for months to get as much out of a Rick Nash deal as possible. Finally, he settled on a Rangers trade package that isn't too shabby. In the end, the Rangers gave up Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, standout defense prospect Tim Erixon, and a first round pick. For the rebuilding Colombus Blue Jackets, this gives them a lot more solid depth that they lacked. For the Rangers, the offensive star that gives them the threat they needed, especially with their current star Marian Gaborik already out for half of the season.

Nash, a consistent 30 goal scorer, and strong power forward, is just the type of player the Rangers lacked. In 674 career games, all with Columbus, Nash has tallied 289 goals and 258 assists for 547 points. Playing for a club that has managed only one playoff appearance in it's history, a first round sweep, Nash has been a rock. He was the only thing within that organization that the fans could truly count on. But all good things must come to an end, and a top player can only tolerate a franchise that has been as poorly run as the Blue Jackets for so long. He is the marquee Power Forward in the NHL. He has the size and strength and knows how to use it. He also has the hands to make some amazing plays. Finally, with some talent around him, Nash won't have to be the best player on his team every night (although he probably still will be). When Marian Gaborik is healthy, both players will open up some serious room for eachother.

On the Rangers end, they gave up very good, but very replaceable players in Dubinsky and Anisimov. Both players took a bit of a slide in the depth chart in New York, and were not getting the ice time they need to be truly effective. There was a time, just a few years ago, when Brandon Dubinsky was a top line player, on a line with Jaromir Jagr. But as the team brought in younger talent, ice time for Dubsinky, and Anisimov alike, was not the priority of Rangers coach John Tortorella. Dubinsky got a big pay raise after a 54 point breakout season in 2010-2011, but did not take the next step that many hoped he would. The gritty forward struggled to find the net the whole season, posting just 10 goals. His frustration finally boiled over in the playoffs after a questionable ejection in the first round against Ottawa.

However, with more ice time in Colombus, he is in the perfect situation to rebound his career. He is a talented player who just sort of lost his way on his team. A fresh start in a more relaxed environment, without the strong expectations he faced in New York, should serve him very well. Artem Anisomov, a very skilled forward, showed flashes of brilliance in his time in New York. Take for example, this goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The skilled Russian is a quick skater, with nifty hands. When he has the open space, he puts those hands on full display. The biggest knock however, is how easy of a target he is. Routinely caught with his head down, Anisimov always finds a way to be the victim of a big hit. Listed at 6'3, 190 lbs, Anisimov can certainly add some bulk to his frame to handle that pressure. Despite that knock on him,the Blue Jackets have brought in a talented player who, like Dubinsky, may have needed a new venue to prove himself. He is a hard worker, and should do well on a line with former Ranger and "NHL Bro of the Day," Vinny Prospal. 

By acquiring Rick Nash, the Rangers have sent a message to the Eastern Conference. And that message is, "we are ready to go for a Cup." Finishing first in the conference last year was big, but even bigger was their OT game 6 loss to their cross-river rival New Jersey Devils. Now, they have the piece that they were clearly missing during last year's playoff run. Being taken to Game 7 in the previous two series by teams they should have beaten much quicker clearly took a toll on them. Now, this new weapon of theirs, mixed with the experience of a tough playoff run and a bitter defeat, will certainly put them over the top. 

The rebuilding strategy for the Rangers has been worked to perfection. Build with young talent, supplemented with the right players when the time is right. A home-grown defense of Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto, and pre-concussion Michael Sauer has been nothing but spectacular. Henrik Lundqvist has patrolled the Rangers crease to perfection his entire career, and up front, captain Ryan Callahan is joined by young home-grown standouts Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, and Chris Kreider. They have added the depth players through trade and free agency. Bringing in top talents Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards and now Rick Nash puts a bow on the construction of a great team, with a significant amount of the core built from the ground up.

Now, the Rangers hope the pieces are in place to go for a successful playoff run. Just like the Chicago Blackhawks, who lost in the Conference Finals to Detroit a year before winning the cup, and the Pittsburgh Penguins, who lost in the finals before going on to win it all, the Rangers will use the experience they gained during a long and arduous playoff run as fuel to the fire of their next attempt at glory.

1 comment:

  1. Need to replace the likes of Prust, Anisimov, Dubi and Feds. Not sure that kids like J.T. Miller and Christian Thomas are ready to make the jump. They still have $16 million under the cap to do that.
    A guy like Foligno would have been a good signing...lets see what unfolds