Monday, July 23, 2012

Rick Nash: Newest Ranger

Today, July 23rd, 2012, after months of speculation, Rick Nash has finally been traded from the only NHL team he has ever known.  The 28 year-old captain of the Blue Jackets, who was drafted first overall back in 2002, was dealt to the New York Rangers for a pair of NHL players, a prospect, and a first round draft pick.

The players: Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov.  The prospect: Tim Erixon.  The draft pick: 2013.

Why this deal is good for Columbus: The Blue Jackets finally moved the heart and soul of the franchise, who made it clear that he wanted out, after 9 seasons of ineptitude, resulting in a single playoff berth which lasted a total of 4 games.  In return, they receive a top 6 forward in Anisimov, who will cause plenty of cannons to go off in Columbus.  Brandon Dubinsky, a 26 year old American who was drafted 60th overall in 2004, was forced to make the adjustment from top 6 to bottom 6, and did so without a complaint.  He exemplified what it meant to be a Ranger under Torts; hard work, team oriented play, and honest.  His grittiness, willingness to fight for his teammates - while giving up a lot of size at times - and heart, made him the ultimate teammate.  Now he will take his talents to the Midwest.

Tim Erixon was drafted 23rd overall by the Calgary Flames in 2009 but was unable to come to terms.  In turn, he was traded to the Rangers for a pair of second rounders and a prospect, where he finally signed, and made his NHL debut, playing in 18 games.  This still very raw talent has a large upside and is rated highly on  The BJs are quietly accumulating a solid defense corps, adding Erixon's potential to that of 2nd overall draft pick Ryan Murray, and existing NHLers Jack Johnson, James Wisniewski, Nikita Nikitin, and Fedor Tyutin.  Not exactly the Avalanche of 2001, but respectable nonetheless.

The draft pick should be a late first rounder, which, according to TSN's Scott Cullen, has a 5.6-27.3% chance of being an impact player.  Assuming the Rangers win one playoff series, this pick will land anywhere between 23rd and 30th overall. 

Why this deal is bad for Columbus: Losing the face of the franchise for a team that finished 27th in attendance last year is not a good marketing plan.  A team that already had a hard enough time luring prime free agent talent may have just lost the only thing attracting potential big names.  If Erixon does not turn out to be a stud, and/or the first rounder is not an impact player, the trade could look very one-sided in New York's favor.

Why this deal is good for New York: The Rangers, yet again, land the big fish.  A year removed from signing Brad Richards to the biggest deal of the 2011 offseason, the Rangers are able to pry Rick Nash from the Blue Jackets.  Nash brings size, strength, delicate hands, leadership, durability, and a serious hunger to win - all things that spell Rangers hockey. 

Why this deal is bad for New York: The Rangers are now in serious salary cap trouble; having four players earning more than $6.5 against the cap for the next two seasons.  Those four players (Nash, Gaborik, Richards, and Lundqvist) earn a combined 41% of the $70.2 million salary cap for 2012.  That is simply not a sustainable business model.  Del Zotto and Stralman are still RFAs this year, McDonaugh, Sauer, Stepan, and Hagelin will be RFAs next year.  It may not be possible to re-sign all of those guys, so the Rangers may be forced to say goodbye to some serious young talent. 

Also, we do not know what will happen with the new CBA.  Perhaps the league decides that burying players in the minors because of poor contract decisions will be against the rules, so Wade Redden and his $6.5 million cap hit through 2013 could potentially be forced onto the Rangers books.

The Atlantic Division is looking dangerous right now.

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