The Columbus Blue Jackets are better off without Rick Nash. Long-time fans and die-hards may not yet believe this, but soon you will. Given enough time, you will be glad you traded your best asset to the New York Rangers for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first round pick in next year’s draft, because considering he no longer wanted to be in Columbus, this is a pretty decent return.
Also considering how little the franchise accomplished in all these years with the superstar winger as their leader, the fact that they were able to trade him for pieces that will upgrade their roster in key positions, as well as an extra draft choice in what is considered to be a very deep draft, is something to celebrate.
In Dubinsky, the Blue Jackets have added a gritty two-way forward who is a force in the faceoff circle. In terms of point production, he is on par with or superior to every other center on the roster, and his prowess at winning faceoffs cannot be understated. In his five years in the league, he has never won less than 51.4% of his faceoffs, and once even reached 53.4%, both of which are numbers that the previously faceoff-challenged Blue Jackets have to be salivating over. Between his ability to play solidly on both ends of the ice and impact the Blue Jackets’ chances of starting plays with the puck instead of having to chase after it, Dubinsky gives the team a chance to be more solid when he is on the ice.
Anisimov and Erixon will bring significant depth to the Blue Jackets’ roster. Anisimov will get a chance to flourish in the center position away from the pressures of the New York City media and, like Dubinsky, he is not a significant step down for Columbus at the center position.
Erixon is widely considered to be one of the NHL’s best defensive prospects, and in addition to the recently drafted Ryan Murray, he will soon develop into a solid blueliner, which is something the Blue Jackets continue to need more of.
This addition will bolster the back end and give whoever is in net at least a chance of not having to stand on his head for 60 minutes a night just to make sure the team doesn’t lose by several goals. Erixon will help his team actually prevent their opponents from scoring at will, so this is a win for the team.
Yes, Nash is one of the league’s elite talents, and yes, the Blue Jackets will miss his roughly 32 goals per season. The Blue Jackets will obviously miss his presence too, particularly on the power play, but when year in and year out he is essentially the only player that opponents really have to key in on, the greater issue becomes fixing your depth–not worrying about losing your only bankable superstar.
If you want to improve as a franchise, sometimes you have to give up your best player in order to get better, and that is what Columbus has done here. And depending on whom they end up taking in the draft (presumably late in the first round, given New York’s recent success), their future might end up being even brighter.