Earlier today, the New York Rangers added Martin St. Louis in arguably the biggest trade on deadline day. They had to trade away their captain, Ryan Callahan, and two draft picks, but this team needed to add offense if they wanted to be serious contenders for the cup. St. Louis comes in as arguably the Rangers’ best forward, but if this team really wants to be cup contenders, they need to get more out of Rick Nash.
Nash hasn’t been awful; he leads the Rangers with 19 goals, but that only puts him on pace for 27 goals this season. That would be his lowest output since the 2006-07 season. Even worse, he only has 10 assists this season, which puts him on pace for his lowest total in his career.
Nash is a superstar; he is the player that was supposed to put the Rangers over the hump after their Eastern Conference Finals loss to the New Jersey Devils in 2012. When he first came to the Rangers, he showed that promise. His play stood out, but now he doesn’t consistently flash that skill.
Superstars are not only supposed to put up monster stats, but they’re supposed to make the players around them better. Neither Derek Stepan or Chris Kreider have looked better paired with Nash this season. In fact, it looks like the whole line has regressed as the season has developed.
Nash looks like a mercenary out there. He tries the same moves over and over, hardly gaining separation and rarely finishing at the net. Plainly speaking, he doesn’t look to work with Stepan and Kreider, which means they don’t take advantage of the space a player of Nash’s caliber can create.
By contrast, tonight Rangers fans got their first glimpse of St. Louis, and he looked every bit the part of a superstar. Both Brad Richards and Carl Hagelin played with speed and creativity that fans haven’t seen almost all season.
If the two superstars were playing to their potential, the Rangers would be a difficult offense to corral, but that wasn’t the case tonight. Nash clearly needs something to get him going, and St. Louis just might be the answer. If he can get Hagelin and Richards going, why can’t he get Nash going? The two of them paired on a line would give the Rangers the first legitimate top-line they’ve had in years.