Rangers

Hartnett: No Need To Break Up Rangers For Rick Nash

Columbus' Price For Nash Steep And Requires Large Cap Commitment
(credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

(credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

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‘Rangers Inside And Out’
By Sean Hartnett
» More Columns

No doubt about it, Rick Nash is a talented hockey player who can immediately help any NHL franchise.

Is it worth giving up the farm to acquire him and pledge $7.8 million dollars in annual cap space through the 2017-18 season? That’s another story entirely and it’s up to Rangers’ general manger Glen Sather to think long and hard about the pros and cons of adding Nash.

Sather saw first hand exactly what Rick Nash offers on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. Nash scored a late third period goal with 1:33 remaining that drew the Columbus Blue Jackets even with the Rangers and forced overtime. Thankfully for the Blueshirts, Derek Stepan delivered the eventual overtime winner.

The Garden crowd chanted “We don’t want you” at Nash following his goal but that could be viewed as a way of unnerving an opponent.  Many Rangers fans would welcome Nash with open arms but it remains to be seen whether Blueshirts’ management is determined to come away with the 27-year-old.

There are seven days left before the NHL Trade Deadline closes and the clock is ticking for Sather to complete a move that can bring consistency to the Rangers’ offense. If Sather is able to pull the trigger on a trade that brings Nash to New York, it would provide instant life to a powerplay that has struggled all season.

Acquiring Nash would come at significant cost, one that might be too steep for Sather and might disrupt the plans of head coach John Tortorella. At minimum, the Rangers would have to deal away Brandon Dubinsky, a top prospect and a first round pick to land Nash. If a growing number of rival general mangers begin circling around Nash, Blue Jackets’ GM Scott Howson might demand one of Derek Stepan, Michael Del Zotto or Ryan McDonagh.

Forget about trading Stepan, McDonagh or Del Zotto for a moment. I’m certain that the suggestion of any of the three would force Sather to recoil and end all interest in the Blue Jackets’ captain. Let’s talk about a more feasible trade possibility built around Dubinsky, a talented prospect like Chris Kreider or J.T. Miller, Tim Exiron and a high-round pick.

Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make and I firmly believe this is the case with Dubinsky. His offensive production is significantly down this season. Dubinsky has only scored 6 goals and chipped in 19 assists through 54 games this season but only judging him by his offensive statistics alone would be missing the entire picture.

Dubinsky is a big reason why the Rangers’ penalty kill ranks within the top 5 in the NHL at a sparkling 87.2%. Despite logging considerable penalty kill minutes, he’s a +12 on the season. Dubinsky’s high-effort tendencies and ability to win battles in the corners are trademarks that often goes unnoticed by casual hockey fans. If Dubinsky is able to find his offensive game before the playoffs, the Rangers will have a very valuable player on the hands.

Considering Dubinsky’s attributes, Nash’s extensive contract and the potential of the prospects Sather would have to give up, the Rangers are better off keeping their options open and exploring summer trade possibilities and free agents. This deadline, it’s in the Rangers’ best interest to stick with what they have and add a couple of veteran, stabilizing pieces to a present roster that is currently leading the Eastern Conference by 9 points.

As for Nash, the three teams I expect to be most interested in him are the Los Angeles Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers. My money is on the Kings striking a deal for Nash centered around defenseman Jack Johnson and Jonathan Bernier.

Rangers fans, what would you be willing to give up to land Nash? Where do you believe Nash will end up? Share your opinions below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.