Rick Nash Trade: Breaking Down What the Rangers Sacrificed to Obtain Nash

Matt Clouden@@mattcloudenCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 03:  Rick Nash #61 of the Columbus Blue Jackets in action during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on April 3, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images


The hockey world has let out a collective sigh of relief as the Rick Nash saga has reportedly come to an end.

Nash will be off to the Big Apple to play for the New York Rangers, and the Columbus Blue Jackets will receive Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first-round pick (via Darren Dreger).

The Rangers' general manager Glen Sather was unable to land Nash at the trade deadline this past February, and the Rangers' offensive play continued to leave something to be desired. 

In the playoffs, the Rangers' offense was stagnant, and that may be being kind. In 20 games, the Rangers were able to score more than three goals once, a 4-2 Game 1 win in the first round against the Ottawa Senators.

Henrik Lundqvist carried the team through the first two rounds, squeaking out seven-game series wins against Ottawa and the Washington Capitals. The New Jersey Devils proved to be too much for the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals, winning three straight games to defeat John Tortorella's club in six games.

So, despite the strong play and bright future of Chris Kreider, an offensive upgrade was sorely needed for the Rangers.

So what did the Rangers get in Nash?

Nash is a special player. There is no debating that. His point totals, especially his goal tallies, are even more impressive when you consider he played with RJ Umburger and Kristian Huselius the year of his highest point total (2008). 

Sather tried pretty hard to secure Nash at the trade deadline, and was reportedly ready to give up Dubinsky, Erixon and highly-regarded prospects Christian Thomas and JT Miller, plus a first-round pick, to do it. 

Scott Howson, the Blue Jackets' general manager, was not happy with that haul and wanted Dubinsky, one of Ryan McDonagh or Michael Del Zotto, one of Carl Hagelin or Derek Stepan, Kreider and a first-round pick instead. (You can read here the translation of that deal into personnel terms.)

So what has Sather given up in the deal that actually happened?

Dubinsky is likely going to be seen as the centerpiece of Columbus' return package. He will never be an offensive dynamo, but he is a great second-line-caliber center who has the potential to score 25 or 30 goals if paired with the right wings. 

The Rangers' top two centers are well-cemented for years to come with Brad Richards and Derek Stepan, whose lack of inclusion in this deal is a huge win for Sather. Dubinsky was relegated to the third line and objectively struggled there last season, seeing his goal total shrink from 24 in 2010-2011 to 10.

Simply, the great play of Carl Hagelin and, in the playoffs, Chris Kreider, made Dubinsky expendable. 

Anisimov is extremely talented, but has struggled with consistency in his time with the Rangers. Tortorella requires his forwards to be responsible in the defensive zone, and Anisimov has trouble with that at times and was docked ice time for it. 

His inability to use his body effectively (he's 6'4") also hurts him. 

His goal celebrations, when he was able to score, certainly didn't help him either. 

The Rangers will miss his size, but he was another guy playing third-line minutes down the stretch for Tortorella's club. 

Erixon is probably the hardest pill for Ranger fans to swallow. His departure leaves Dylan McIlrath as the only top-tier defensive prospect left in the system. 

That is not to say that the Rangers defense isn't set for years to come, however. McDonagh is a potential Norris Trophy winner. Del Zotto has cemented himself as a Top Four guy, if not a Top Two talent. Marc Staal rebounded from his concussion problems extremely well at the end of last season. Dan Girardi played solid defensive hockey while showing he can move the puck up ice very well. 

Erixon played well in his 18 games up with the Rangers, but not well enough to take Mike Sauer's spot on the roster if he is able to return from a concussion he suffered early last season. He moves the puck extremely well and will compliment James Wisniewski and Jack Johnson extremely well. 

In all, Columbus received, in terms of talent, a second-line center, a second- or third-line wing (who can and has played center), a blue-chip defensive prospect and a late first-round pick. 

The Rangers got an all-world talent who could potentially be the genesis of a Marian Gaborik-Brad Richards-Rick Nash line that would terrorize the Atlantic Division next season.

Overall, Columbus got some good pieces, and a potentially great piece in Erixon, for someone who did not want to be there anymore. 

The Rangers gave up some defensive-prospect depth, but gave up two roster guys who had been made expendable by the play of younger players. 

Glen Sather has played his hand perfectly, getting a once obscene asking price down to what he paid today, and that may be low enough to make the Rangers an early favorite for the Stanley Cup next season. 


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