There are a lot of reasons New York Rangers fans are excited to have Alain Vigneault behind the bench, and one of the biggest reasons surrounds Rick Nash. The 6'4", 219-pounder put up some of his career's best numbers during his first year in the Big Apple, but can he once again become a superstar in Vigneault's system?
While Nash is a talented offensive player, he doesn't have the numbers of a superstar.
He was drafted No. 1 overall in 2002, and since then he has scored 310 goals and has recorded 279 assists for 589 points in 718 games. That equates to a points-per-game average of 0.82, a relatively low number for a superstar.
But Nash is not completely at fault. He spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Columbus Blue Jackets, a franchise that was devoid of talent. While this is no excuse, Nash proved what he could do with competent players alongside him.
After a slow start, Nash finished the 2012-13 season with 21 goals and assists for 42 points in 44 games, which so happens to be the third-best statistical season of his career.
While those were pretty good numbers for his first season in the Big Apple, fans can expect bigger and better things from Nash under Vigneault.
This season Nash will be a direct beneficiary of offensive zone starts. In short, Vigneault will give Nash most of his shifts in the offensive zone, which will increase the power winger's ability to generate scoring chances.
This strategy was used effectively with both Sedin twins, and Nash should see a production increase as a result. Vigneault also likes to send bodies to the net, instructing Nash to do so during the preseason.
As previously stated, Nash is 6'4" and 219 pounds. He is a big forward with size, and he is very strong when he has the puck. Though there were numerous occasions in which Nash drove to the net last season, it will be his main method of attack this year now that AV is calling the shots.
It will also help that Vigneault is pairing Nash with two talented players on the top line. Derek Stepan is a budding first-line center with upside, and Brad Richards is a veteran scorer that has been moved to left wing.
The trio has a balance of offensive skill, and Nash should score a lot of goals while being fed by two talented playmakers.
Nash felt that he was good last year, but he thinks he has even more in him, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post.
“I thought there were stretches during the regular season where I was at the top of my game, My goal is always to improve and try to be better.
“I think I have more in me.”
In the same article, Nash went on to say that he is also more comfortable entering his second year with the team: "Having a three-week camp in which to get to know the guys is definitely a help,” and that “There’s a familiarity that was missing last year.”
Rick Nash loved first-year NYC experience & is still amazed at passion of NYR fans. His eyes widened at prospect of a more up-tempo offense.— JOHN GIANNONE (@jaygeemsg) September 12, 2013
Another way Vigneault's system will help Nash become a superstar again will come via the power play. Although Scott Arniel is going to be in charge of the strategy, Vigneault will likely have some input.
During his tenure with the Canucks, Vigneault orchestrated some successful power-play units, and Nash will be given numerous opportunities because his is the team's top offensive player. Mathematically, he will have more chances to score, and the odds suggest his numbers will go up.
Obviously all of these are just reasons why Nash should regain superstar status, and there is a reason why they play the games. Everything may look good on paper, but Nash has to go out and prove himself.
The Rangers star vowed he would get back to top form, and it is fair to say that Blueshirt diehards can't wait to see what he can do this season on Broadway.