Rick Nash has a list of six teams he’s willing to accept a trade from and the New York Rangers were privileged enough to make that prestigious cut. NHL rumors have the Rangers as the favorites to land the 30-goal scorer via trade, but the package of prospects the Columbus Blue Jackets are demanding is unreasonable. The question is whether or not the New York Rangers need to acquire Rick Nash to be a contender this season, and is Rick Nash worth the high price?
Initially, it seems the Rangers do not need to tinker with their roster all that much. They finished atop the Eastern Conference with 109 points behind the best goaltender in hockey, Henrik Lundqvist. New York fell two games shy of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final and most of their talented roster returns for the upcoming season. However, the New York Rangers were also incredibly lucky in 2011-12 and repeating their amazing season may not be as simple as it looks. As they struggle to score again in 2012-13, perhaps they’ll need another dynamic forward like Rick Nash.
The stars aligned for the Rangers in 2012. The Pittsburgh Penguins missed Sidney Crosby and were a far better team when he finally returned from lingering concussion symptoms. With Crosby back, the Penguins could easily dethrone King Henrik and the New York Rangers atop the Atlantic Division and the conference. By sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers, the Rangers effectively cruised through the toughest division in hockey. The upcoming season will not be nearly as simple, and the services of Rick Nash could help the Rangers build on the success of last season.
The Rangers scored the fewest goals of any playoff contender that didn’t stumble into the postseason from the Southeast Division. Defense, goaltending, and the grinding defensive system of John Tortorella helped the Rangers squeeze out countless tight games, but they faded down the stretch. Rick Nash would give the Rangers three of the league’s best scorers – Brad Richards, an injured Marion Gaborik, and Nash. Perhaps an effective offense would take the pressure off Lundqvist and help the Rangers stay fresh into the early summer months.
However, Rick Nash is certainly not worth the package that the Columbus Blue Jackets are looking for. Since Nash is being particularly picky about his next destination, it’s very possible the Blue Jackets simply hold onto him. The New York Rangers should not part with any of their young defensemen that comprise one of the best backlines in hockey in order to land a thirty-goal scorer that doesn’t quite fit the Tortorella school of hockey. Nash could derail the Rangers’ momentum and sacrifice the future of the team in the process. Additionally, he has a big contract that will hurt for years to come.
The New York Rangers are in a precarious situation. The division and conference will likely be more competitive and the Rangers certainly need more scoring. New York made an art of winning close games and should not expect the same luck in the upcoming season. However, the Rangers are already one of the best teams in hockey without Nash. Rick Nash demands a very high price and the Columbus Blue Jackets hold all the cards, particularly because of how willing to stay in Columbus Rick Nash appears to be. With all the New York Rangers would have to sacrifice in order to land him, it would surprise me if the Rangers leap for Rick Nash. Unless, of course, the price suddenly falls.