...is a New York Ranger.
In a matter of moments, Rangers GM Glen Sather was able to do what 29 other NHL GMs failed to complete in five months of negotiations—to draw disgruntled All-Star winger Rick Nash out of Columbus.
The potential deal had been anticipated all the way since February, and came to the rumor forefront months ago. In fact, we guaranteed a Nash-to-Rangers trade would go down back on June 1st, but the speed of such a trade proved astonishingly slow.
At long last, the exchange has finally become official.
Per Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, via Twitter:
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) July 23, 2012
Nash, 28, arrives in the Big Apple as with expectations higher than the Empire State Building.
The seven-time 30-goal scorer has scored 57 or more points for six consecutive years, despite playing for one of the league's worst franchises year-in and year-out.
Nash's 30 goals and 29 assists in 2011-12 were actually his lowest total since 2007—he's recorded numbers as high as 40 goals and 79 points earlier in his career.
Just how productive is Nash? In last 5 yrs, Nash would've ranked 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 1st & 1st on NYR in goals. And that was with bad CBJ teams.
— John Giannone (@jaygeemsg) July 23, 2012
With the Rangers, he'll join a stacked offense already bursting at the seams after the July 2011 signing of Brad Richards and in-season prospect pickup Chris Kreider.
Nash will join forces alongside Richards, who will center the team's first line. The 32-year-old posted 25 goals and 61 points in the regular season, in addition to six goals and 15 points in the playoffs last season.
That pair will be initially joined by Ryan Callahan, who tallied a respectable 29 goals and 54 points of his own in 2011-2012, while leading all Ranger forwards in average TOI. Following Marian Gaborik's expected return from surgery recovery in December, however, the trio will finally find their third head for the monster.
Over his career, Gaborik has actually been even more successful than Nash; he's hit the 40-goal plateau a whopping three times in the past half-decade. Together they'll make for a right wing-left wing combination of world-class skill.
Moreover, the acquisition of Nash's enormous $7.8 million cap hit will not affect the Rangers' salary structure whatsoever.
Did the Rangers get the better end of trade?
With Dubinsky ($4.2 million cap hit), Anisimov ($1.875 million) and Erixon ($1.75 million) each going the other way, the Rangers will have dropped a net $250,000 in NHL salary by day's end.
On the other hand, New York will have more cash loaded onto their top line than any other team in hockey.
When Nash's $7.8 million mark is combined with Richards' $6.66 million hit and Gaborik's $7.5 million tally, the trio totals out to a jaw-dropping $21.96 million cap hit—equal to 38.6 percent of the club's entire $56.81 million payroll.
That's more combined money loaded into just three forwards than any other team in the league. Washington's $21.24 million, devoted to Alex Ovechkin, Niklas Backstrom and Mike Ribiero, places second, followed by San Jose's $18.9 million and Chicago's $18.5 million.
Looking past Nash, Gaborik, Richards and Callahan, no Blueshirt forward will carry a cap hit of more than $1.7 million next season, though.
The Rangers are the only team in the league with only four or fewer forwards carrying a cap hit above $1.75 million. Even the Nashville Predators, with the league's lowest payroll at $43.85 million, have six offensive players above that line.
That means that the Sather and the Rangers still have the cash reserves needed to target sought-after UFAs Alexander Semin or Shane Doan—or even both of them.
With almost $13.4 million in cap space, 13 forwards, five defensemen and two goaltenders already under contract, absorbing Doan's projected $6 million salary and Semin's estimated $5 million paycheck would still be a feasible feat.
Simply put, Rick Nash gives the Rangers a new asset of unparalleled importance—without costing a thing.