2012, Hockey, Sports

Rick Nash Trade

So I have been on a business trip this past week and didn’t have time to blog about what will probably go down as the biggest NHL trade of the summer of 2012. (You know, unless something wackier goes down.)

But just as an aside, the Rangers re-signed Anton Stralman for 2 years at around $1.7 or $1.8. Yes, Stralman has his problems but for a guy who has some level of talent and was clearly helpful to the Rangers in the playoffs (for the most part) I can’t help but still absolutely hate that Leafs’ trade. I mean at this point $1.7 mil is pocket change for a top 4/5 (at least looking at the Leafs’ salaries…cough). Ahem…

New York Rangers get:

  • Rick Nash, 28, LW: 35G, 31G for 66P, -9, 18:54 ATOI per 82 games
  • Steven Delisle, 22, D: didn’t really make the Blue Jacket’s AHL team, 30P, + 6 per 82 games in the Q
  • 3rd Round Pick: According to Scott Cullen, about a 20% chance of getting at least 100 games from a player drafted this low

Rick Nash is, in my mind, one of the most overrated players in the entire league. Now before you go lynching me for that statement, think about it at least a little.

He is regularly described by the media as a “franchise player”; but honestly, for someone’s who has been in the league as long as he has, and who has been as relatively healthy as he has, would you really accept an average of 66 points per season as a franchise player? Especially from a winger? I mean, at least a centre giving you that each season also gives you face-off wins and, presumably, defense.

But the last time I checked Nash isn’t Hossa. He is not one of the elite two way wingers in the league. So 66 points per season isn’t exactly “franchise” player territory. To put it in perspective for Leafs fans, Kessel’s 82 game average is 59 points. So Nash is only marginally more productive than Kessel. (And, we can hopefully assume that once Kessel is Nash’s age, Kessel’s per 82 game numbers will be at least a little closer to Nash’s…I hope I hope I hope I hope).

To put it in perspective for those of you who are freaking out that I am down on Nash: though Nash’s GPG of .43 ranks 7th since he came into the league (among players who have played at least 500 games), his PPG ranks 29th. That means he is technically a theoretical franchise player…on the second worst team in the league. If we lower the games requirement to 337 – i.e. half the games Nash has played since he entered the league, so it now includes guys who are frequently injured or who have played only half of the last decade – he drops down to 45th in the league.

So yeah, Nash is a Top 3 forward for sure, but that’s it. So let’s drop the “franchise” tag.

(As an aside: I am so happy the Leafs didn’t trade for Nash. Can you imagine how bizarre and brutal a Kessel – some LW the Leafs are trying to convert into a centre – Nash line would be? Nobody would ever get the puck when they needed it. And as much as two lines based around Kessel and Nash sound great on paper, would the Leafs have any talent left to play with them after the trade?)

So the Rangers get Nash and Nash gets his first chance to prove he is better than he has been given the opportunity to be. He has never played with a true #1 centre in his NHL career and now he gets his chance. His success I think will centre completely around chemistry:

  • Does he have it with Brad Richards?
  • Does he have it with whatever centre he plays with if Gaborik comes back and Gaborik – Richards – Nash isn’t a functioning unit? (Do we think it will be?)

If he does, then the Rangers win this trade. If he doesn’t, then I think we have to look at this in a very different light. Because:

Steven Delisle isn’t anything at this point. Sure maybe he somehow turns things around, but if at 22 you can’t make the AHL affiliate, do we expect you to make a difference in the NHL at 28?

And a third round pick is of course only useful if you have great scouting (admittedly, the Rangers have decent scouting) and then only maybe.

So it’s Nash-works-out or bust, though that is obviously why the Rangers made the trade in the first place.

Columbus Blue Jackets get:

  • Brandon Dubinsky, 26, C/LW: 17G, 28A for 45P, +5, 17:12 ATOI per 82 games
  • Artem Anisimov, 24, LW/C: 16G, 21A for 37P, +4, 14:48 ATOI, per 82 games
  • Tim Erixon: 9P, 12:60 ATOI per 82 games (18 games played), 66P per 82 games in the AHL
  • 1st Round Pick: Depending on where the Rangers’ finish, anywhere between a 44% chance of 100 games from a player (for a 25-30 pick) to 96% (for a top 5 player, very unlikely to happen) [turned into Kerby Rychel]

A lot of people think the Jackets got killed on this, but I really don’t see it that way. Yes, the insistence on four assets doomed the team to getting less in terms of talent, but they still got a pretty good haul.

Dubinsky had arguably the worst season of his career this year so the Jackets are buying (very) low. At 26, it isn’t exactly crazy to hope he can bounce back to his old form, a form the Jackets desperately need. If he doesn’t, then this trade is a bust. If he does, then what else they got starts to look more impressive.

Anisimov is a player the Jackets could reasonably assume would improve with more ice time…that is of course, if he wasn’t a Russian. Ahem. In his analysis of the trade, Cullen [removed the link because it 404s] makes a very interesting (scary if you’re the Rangers) point: Anisimov actually had more points per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time than Nash did. Now obviously Nash is faced with teams actually planning their defense around stopping him and Anisimov never is, but if there is any truth to this whatsoever it means two things:

  1. if Nash can’t succeed on the power play in New York, he might not succeed at all and
  2. that Anisimov could be way more of a steal than anyone seems to think possible.

Since Erixon has mostly played in Sweden it is hard to gauge his value at this point but hockeysfuture.net has him rated as a 7.5B, which makes him instantly the Jacket’s top D prospect, which isn’t nothing.

Barring any unforeseen meltdowns, the Jacket’s will not get a top 15 pick with this first rounder and will have to settle for lower down, making it unlikely they will draft anyone of Nash’s calibre with the pick.

I’m not trying to say the Rangers lost this trade, as that would be a little silly before Nash has even played a game for them. But if his chemistry with Richards turns out to be like his chemistry with Carter – something that I admit is unlikely, at least on paper – then this could actually turn out to be a bit of a disaster for them, especially if everything that could go right for the Jackets does. It’s a serious risk, especially when you already have one overrated LW in your top 6.

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