In the days leading up to the NHL trading deadline this past season, the New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets discussed the possibility of making Rick Nash a Ranger. However, Columbus GM Scott Howson asked for a king’s ransom from the Rangers and Rangers GM Glen Sather rightfully backed off. Howson is once again dangling his star forward and the Rangers are interested once again causing the NHL trade rumors to heat up.
However, the New York Rangers should stay away from Rick Nash. Yes, the Rangers need some offensive punch, especially with Marian Gaborik out until sometime next season after shoulder surgery. However, the Rangers are a team that seems on the verge of finally achieving their goal of winning a Stanley Cup. They have beaten back years of poor free agent signings like Theo Fleury, Pavel Bure, and a host of others that just haven’t fit in and built themselves one of the finest young teams in the league.
Howson is believed to be asking for four or five players and prospects. Names like Brandon Dubinsky, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Artem Anisimov, Chris Kreider, Michael Del Zotto, Tim Erixon, and Dylan McIlrath have been mentioned among others. Four players from that group would be a steep price to pay for anyone, let alone a 28 year-old winger with a $7.8 million cap hit until the 2017-2018 season.
If the Rangers can’t get Nash for their asking price they could very well turn to a free agent market that is thin on elite talent but could provide the Rangers with just enough scoring to make a difference. Players such as Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney are older veterans who provide some scoring and don’t require a long-term commitment. While they may not be ideal, as say, Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils, or Nash, they wouldn’t require a substantial monetary investment. The New York Rangers will need cap room down the line to keep players like Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, and Chris Kreider among others, especially if they develop into the players the Rangers hope they will.
Nash’s production has dipped since the 2008-09 season. He has seen his goal totals go from 40 in 2008-09 to 33, 32, and 30 last season. While the decline isn’t drastic and is more of a testament to the lousy supporting cast Nash has had in Columbus, it is still something to think about when acquiring him. If the Rangers were smart they would wait until Howson’s asking price comes down from the moon or make a push for a free agent like Jagr, Whitney, or Parise. It is also possible the Rangers might not feel there is any urgency to make a move if they feel they will get increased production from a full year of Kreider and improved years from Hagelin, Dubinsky, and Stepan. In the meantime, the New York Rangers should let Scott Howson cool off and realize he isn’t going to get what he is currently asking for.