The New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets tried to get a deal done that would send the Jackets' captain, Rick Nash, to the Big Apple before the trade deadline. Those talks collapsed and so did the Rangers' Stanley Cup quest.
That all changed Monday when the Jackets and Rangers completed a blockbuster deal. The Jackets sent Rick Nash, Steven Delisle and a conditional 2013 third-round pick to New York for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a 2013 first-round pick.
If the Rangers make it to the Stanley Cup finals, the Jackets will retain the third-round pick. The deal is also dependent on all players passing physicals on Wednesday.
Nash, a two-time 40-goal scorer, has never won a playoff game in four career games. That was in 2009 when the Blue Jackets were swept by the Red Wings.
With little playoff experience but a lot of talent, the Rangers feel like they have a Stanley Cup contender, but did they pay too much?
Looking simply at the forwards involved in this trade, it's Nash for Dubinsky and Anisimov.
Nash has scored 30 goals in each of his last five seasons in Columbus. His career high is 41 back in 2003-04.
Anisimov hasn't scored more than 44 points in any of his three full seasons with the Rangers. But the 24-year-old did have a career high last season and could produce even more on a higher line in Columbus.
Dubinsky's career hit a serious speed bump last season. The 26-year-old center burst into the NHL with a 40-point rookie season in 2007-08. Dubinsky improved on that total every season to his career-high (54 points) in 2010-11.
But last season, Dubinsky had just 10 goals and 34 points. The scrappy center did record a plus-16 rating, however, and he will be a welcomed addition in Columbus.
Potential Ranger Lines (via NHL.com)
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Rick Nash
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Taylor Pyatt - Brian Boyle - Ryan Callahan
Mike Rupp - Jeff Halpern - Arron Asham
This is of course assuming that Marian Gaborik recovers from shoulder surgery in November or December.
The New York Rangers acquired defenseman Steven Delisle and sent defenseman Tim Erixon to Columbus. What seems like a man-for-man exchange is anything but.
Erixon is a "B-Rating", according to hockeysfuture.com and has played in 18 NHL games. He was drafted 23rd overall by the Calgary Flames in 2009 and was a highly-touted prospect out of the Swedish Elite leagues.
Delisle is a "D-Rating" and was a fourth-round pick in 2008. Delisle hasn't played in an NHL game yet, but the 21-year-old has had some success in the Quebec Major Junior Leagues.
Erixon is clearly a better prospect and a better pick up for the Jackets, especially considering none of the Ranger defensemen are over 30.
You also have to consider that the Jackets receive the Rangers' first-round pick in 2013. The 2013 class is loaded with "A-List" prospects.
There are 36 A-List prospects in 2013, so even if the Rangers win the Stanley Cup, Columbus will get a high-level prospect to bolster their rebuilding team.
The New York Rangers picked up a $7.8 million hit with Nash on the roster; but even with that large contract, the Rangers still have nearly $14 million in cap space, according to capgeek.com.
The Rangers have nearly $57 million in contracts, but still have defenseman Michael Del Zotto as a restricted free agent. He will take a bite out of the cap room.
Not to mention that the new collective bargaining agreement could affect the salary cap, but we will worry about that when the CBA is finalized.
Columbus, on the other hand, picks up Dubinsky's $4.2 million per year, Anisimov's $1.875 million per year and Erixon's $1.75 million per year.
That basically makes the monetary aspects of the trade a wash.
The Rangers now have a more complete offense in a strong position to be Stanley Cup contenders, with cap space to spare.
The Blue Jackets are back in a rebuilding phase with a similar amount of cap space, just short of $14 million.
The Rangers brought in one of the best scorers in the league in Nash.
The 28-year-old winger has 547 points in 674 games in his nine-year stint in Columbus. His minus-71 rating is concerning, but considering the Blue Jackets only made the playoffs once in his nine-year career, that rating is a bit deceiving.
Nash should fit into the Rangers top line with Carl Hagelin and Brad Richards. That will bump Marian Gaborik to the second line—when he returns from his shoulder injury, that is—two very good right wingers.
We haven't even talked about the Rangers' current captain, Ryan Callahan. Callahan will be moved to a third-line winger. Callahan had 54 points in 76 regular season games and added 10 points in 20 playoff games.
The acquisition of Taylor Pyatt to play left wing on the third line will only benefit Callahan's consistent motor.
The Rangers needed to add another offensive weapon. They did that.
Time will tell if the Rangers continue to talk to Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan. With some cap space, it is a possibility. Even without Doan, the Rangers will be a force in the Eastern Conference for years.
The core of the Rangers' talent (Gaborik, Callahan, Nash, Del Zotto, Dan Girardi) are all under 30.
The Rangers got a great value by unloading $7.7 million in salary to pick up Nash's $7.8 million.
I applaud the Rangers for getting this deal done. At a time where the Atlantic Division is as strong as ever, the Rangers needed to take a step to keep pace.
Surviving the Atlantic Division will be of the utmost importance when it comes to playoff seeding.
With the Philadelphia Flyers adding Shea Weber (pending), the Pittsburgh Penguins as Stanley Cup favorites and the New Jersey Devils as defending Eastern Conference champions, being seeded away from other division foes will be crucial for a playoff run.
Did the Rangers pay too much? They certainly gave up a lot of potential.
But, in a word, no.
It will all be worth it if they bring home a Stanley Cup in 2013.