New York Rangers: Rick Nash Trade Makes Team Stanley Cup Favorites in 2012-13

Nicholas Goss@@NicholasGoss35Correspondent IJuly 23, 2012

MONTREAL, CANADA - DECEMBER 6:  Rick Nash #61 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on December 6, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Blue Jackets defeated the Canadiens 3-2 in a shootout.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Trading for Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash has made the New York Rangers the best team in the Eastern Conference and the favorites to win the Stanley Cup next season.

Darren Dreger of TSN first reported the news, which was later confirmed by Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Post-Dispatch.

Rick Nash trade to New York Rangers in process now. Details to follow.

— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 23, 2012

When we finally learned who was involved in the deal (via Portzline), many of us were shocked to discover that the Rangers didn't give up any of their best young NHL players to bring Nash to New York.

The deal: #CBJ send LW Rick Nash, 3rd pick, minor-league D to #NYR for C Brandon Dubinsky, C Artim Anisimov, D Tim Erixon and 1st-rd pick.

— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) July 23, 2012

After coming up two wins short of making the Stanley Cup Final last year, Rangers' general manager Glen Sather has made the one move that will get his team back to the championship level. None of the Rangers' top rivals in the East—the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers—have made any significant moves to improve their team for next year.

Let's examine why this trade makes the Rangers the best team in the Eastern Conference going into next season.


What Does Nash Give the Rangers?

Nash will give the Rangers consistent goalscoring and a player who head coach John Tortorella can depend on in any type of situation. At 6'4" and 214 pounds, Nash has great size but also has the speed and stick handling skills to dominate against the best defensemen in hockey.

Last year he tallied just 59—his lowest total since the 2006-07 season—but the Blue Jackets as a team didn't perform well, as evidenced by their league-worst 29-46-7 record.

Alongside Brad Richards on the Rangers' top line, Nash will finally have a center capable of helping him reach his highest possible offensive production. He could easily set a career high in points next season.

Nash is almost a lock to score 35-plus goals with the Blueshirts next year and amass about 80 points as well. There's no reason to believe he won't thrive in New York.


How Does the Trade Affect the Rangers' depth?

Sather completely owned Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson on this trade. He got a player of Nash's caliber without giving up any of his core players. Ryan McDonagh, Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan—who are arguably the Rangers' three best young players—did not have to be given up to get Nash.

When you look at who the Rangers had to part with to acquire an elite offensive player, they are now set up to compete for Stanley Cup titles for another five to seven years. They have very few weaknesses, and still have extraordinary depth at almost every position on their roster—even after making a trade of this magnitude.

Rangers fans should be ecstatic that Sather stood firm during this entire process and did not want to part with players such as McDonagh and Kreider. Erixon is a good young defenseman, but probably wasn't going to play much of a role on the NHL roster this season.

He played this brilliantly, and now the Rangers are the most talented squad in the East—and the team best equipped to represent the conference in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.


Nicholas Goss is an NHL lead-blogger for Bleacher Report and was the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Boston.


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