After months of speculation, it’s finally happened: Rick Nash has been traded. The former 40-goal scorer and captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets was dealt to the New York Rangers, along with defensive prospect Steven Delisle, in exchange for a 2013 first round pick, forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, and defenseman Tim Erixon. So, let’s break this deal down:
New York Rangers
What they get:
–Rick Nash, an elite goal-scoring threat for their top line, bolstering an offense that averaged a mere 2.71 goals/game last year. Nash is a multiple-time All-Star, a two time Olympian, a former Rocket Richard Trophy winner as the league’s top goal-scorer, and former #1 overall pick (2002). Nash, despite playing with a relative lack of set-up men and playmakers around him during his nine-years in Columbus, never scored fewer than 27 goals in a season (outside of his rookie year), and has scored at least 30 goals in seven of his nine NHL seasons. He also has two 40-goal campaigns (2003-04 and 2008-09).
–Steven Delisle. He’ll bolster the Rangers’ minor league depth at defenseman, but will likely not see NHL playing for some years, given his young age and the Rangers’ glut of talent along the blueline.
Columbus Blue Jackets
What they get:
– Brandon Dubinsky. A gritty, middle-six center who is a consistent, but unimpressive offensive threat. He’ll probably play center on the second or third line for Columbus. Dubinsky’s never registered more than 54 points in a season, but that total would have been third-best on last year’s Blue Jackets squad. Dubinsky, no matter how you look at him, is an upgrade for Columbus’ talent pool at center.
–Artem Anisimov. A highly skilled, but maddeningly unproductive forward who will likely be forced into top-six duty for a Blue Jackets team lacking talent at the forward position. He was rarely used outside of the bottom-six in New York, but may see time at winger or center on the Blue Jackets’ first or second line. He’s got great size (6’4″, 200) and a nice skill-set, but needs to show that he can become more than the player who’s never scored more than 18 goals in a season. Anisimov’s got room for growth, and could become the dangerous top-six forward the Blue Jackets have lacked outside of Rick Nash….but he could also never live up to his potential, and stay at the inconsistent player he’s been through the first three years of his NHL career.
–Tim Erixon. A player with good potential but little NHL experience, Erixon will have to fight to see time on a crowded Columbus blueline that already has most of its pairings already penciled in with starters (Jack Johnson, Fedor Tyutin, Nikita Nikitin, John Moore, Adrian Aucoin, and in all likelihood, the second overall pick in the 2012 draft, Ryan Murray). Still, since no one expects Columbus to compete this year, Erixon is a good piece down the road for a rebuilding Blue Jackets team.
–2013 1st round draft choice. Possibly the most important piece of this trade. Columbus now has three first round picks in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, a draft that will be pivotal in deciding the future of the Blue Jackets. Again, no one expects Columbus to compete this year. They’re looking to rebuild, and hitting on their upcoming triumvirate of first-round choices is absolutely essential the future success of this franchise.