The New York Rangers made the landmark trade of the summer this July when they completed a deal to acquire Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets. The players it took to bring Nash to Broadway included Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Tim Erixon.
No matter what you think about the trade–and there are strong opinions both ways–this is a deal that makes the Blueshirts the strongest team, on paper, in the Eastern Conference. Top to bottom, they’re above everyone, even the Pittsburgh Penguins.
But on paper is one thing and proving it on the ice is something entirely different. For Rick Nash, the question of whether or not he can adjust from small, underachieving, no pressure Columbus to the largest market in the United States will be a storyline worth following this season.
While Nash may be a bit on the overrated side, especially if you look at what the Jackets wanted for him early in trade talks, he’s still a proven scorer in the NHL. He’s a big body up front and routinely hits the 60-point mark. But that was in a no-pressure environment with the Blue Jackets. Can he keep it up, or might he fall off in the way we’ve seen athletes succumb to pressure in New York?
You can’t underestimate the adjustment to the market, but while I do expect Nash to take a bit of time to adapt to his new surroundings and his new teammates, he could be headed towards a nice spike in his numbers all over the board.
Nash is going to have more talent around him overall, but look no further than his expected linemates as a reason to expect big numbers from him in 2012-2013: Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. Richards finished with 66 points and helped Gaborik to return to his 40-goal scoring ways. The two made some pretty sweet music together and adding Nash to the mix makes the trio absolute dynamite. They could be the best top line in hockey next season.
The Rangers brought Rick Nash in as the final piece of their Stanley Cup puzzle. This was already a contending club without him, but with Nash, this is a team that may be not only a favorite to take home the Cup next season, but a team that could be the league’s best in 2012-13.