Rick Nash Trade: Power Ranking the Atlantic Division Post Trade
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Columbus general manager Scott Howson had been talking about trading Nash since before the trade deadline last winter, and according to Darren Dreger of TSN.ca, the deal has gone through.
Dreger tweeted that the Rangers had acquired the power forward in exchange for forward Brandon Dubinsky, center Artem Anisimov, defenseman Tim Erixon and a first-round draft pick.
Howson and Rangers general manager Glen Sather had been frequent conversationalists regarding the trade for months, and both men had played hardball with each other. Sather wanted Nash but he did not want to give up Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider or Ryan McDonagh to make the trade (source: N.Y. Post).
Howson had been holding out for one of those prized pieces, but he ultimately decided to make the deal after months of stalemate.
The Rangers finished first in the Eastern Conference last season but lost to the New Jersey Devils in the postseason, largely because they did not have enough scoring. That problem appears to have been addressed by this trade.
The Rangers are once again No. 1 in the Atlantic Division power rankings, which follows this panel.
No. 1: New York Rangers
A year after signing Brad Richards, the Rangers have added Rick Nash.
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The Rangers had been the dominant team in the Eastern Conference for the majority of the regular season, but John Tortorella's team was far better at preventing goals than it was at scoring them last year.
This played itself out in the final weeks of the regular season and into the playoffs. Prior to losing their Eastern Conference Finals series against the New Jersey Devils in six games, the Rangers were extended to seven games by the No. 8 seed Ottawa Senators and the No. 7 seed Washington Capitals.
The Rangers had played hard and well against both of those teams but could not get separation in the series because they did not have enough goal scoring aside from superstars Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.
While Gaborik recovers from shoulder surgery, he will miss 2 to 3 months of the season.
The acquisition of Nash gives the Rangers an increased goal-scoring opportunity. Nash has scored 30 or more goals in each of the last five seasons. He should be a boon to the Rangers' power play. He has scored as many as 19 power play goals in a season and has never scored fewer than six with the man advantage.
Since the Rangers already have Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and one of the best and most active defenses in the NHL, they are clearly the No. 1 team in the Atlantic Division power rankings.
No. 2: Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers believe that they have the firepower to challenge in the Eastern Conference.
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Why did the logjam break in the Rick Nash trade in late July after months of stubbornness between Scott Howson and Glen Sather?
The Flyers may have had a lot to do with Sather finally pulling the trigger. When the New York general manager saw the Flyers sign Nashville defenseman Shea Weber to a monstrous offer sheet, the Rangers had to do something to hold off the Flyers.
The Flyers don't have Weber yet, because the Predators still have an opportunity to match the contract. If they don't, Weber will fit right in as the team's No. 1 defenseman. The Flyers need a big-time defenseman badly because Chris Pronger is suffering from concussion-related problems, and there is no timetable for his return.
Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere give the Flyers plenty of offense, but goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is erratic in the net.
However, after beating the Penguins in the opening round of the playoffs and getting Weber's name on an offer sheet, they have a slight edge on the Penguins for the No. 2 spot in the division.
No. 3: Pittsburgh Penguins
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The Penguins were shockingly dispatched in the first round of the playoffs by the Philadelphia Flyers.
That loss to their hated rivals hurt Dan Bylsma and his players very much, but that doesn't mean the Penguins are not going to be able to overcome the Rangers and the Flyers this year.
With training camp still two months away, the Penguins appear to rank third in the division, but with the combination of a healthy Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the front line and Kris Letang on the blue line, the Penguins are capable of rising to the top of the Eastern Conference.
They traded star Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes when he turned down a contract extension, and they failed to sign either Zach Parise or Ryan Suter in free agency. However, the Penguins are still loaded and have as much talent as any team in this loaded division.
No. 4: New Jersey Devils
New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer has huge problems.
A little over a month ago, the New Jersey Devils were competing for the Stanley Cup.
However, after they fell behind the Los Angeles Kings 3 games to 0, and ultimately lost the series in six games, the news has not been good for the Devils and head coach Peter DeBoer.
While they did manage to hold on to future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur when the goaltender signed a free-agent deal with his long-time employers, they lost their heart and soul when Zach Parise left via free agency.
Parise, of course, signed a free-agent deal with the Minnesota Wild. A chance to play in his home state proved to be too strong a pull for Parise, and his loss will hurt the Devils badly.
In addition to scoring 31 goals last year and 30 or more goals in five of his last six seasons, Parise is brilliant skater, forechecker and one of the most instinctive players in the league. The Devils will simply not be able to replace him.
No. 5: New York Islanders
John Tavares continues to improve for the Islanders.
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The Islanders have one of the toughest assignments of any team in sports.
They are competing in a division where three of their primary opponents—the Rangers, Flyers and Penguins—have a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup and a fourth—the Devils—played for that title last year.
Just how are the Islanders supposed to move up? Center John Tavares is clearly one of the best young players in the game, and Matt Moulson is a solid scorer. However, the Islanders have too many weaknesses.
The Islanders have added forward Brad Boyes, defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, defenseman Matt Carkner and forward Eric Boulton, but that's not enough to help them climb out of the basement. They also lost improving P.A. Parenteau to the Colorado Avalanche.