That's right. It’s the end of an era in Columbus.
Rick Nash had been the staple of Columbus Blue Jackets hockey for the last nine seasons. The franchise – an expansion team back in 2000 – only had two seasons in it's history where Nash was not providing his talents at left wing, but on Monday that all came to an end as the Blue Jackets traded the 28-year-old to the New York Rangers for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Tim Erixon.
While the Rangers added a much-needed scoring threat just 535 miles east Columbus, the Jackets are rebuilding and picking up the pieces after trading away a player it had hoped would be the cornerstone of a championship-caliber team. It will certainly take time and some getting used to for both parties involved.
“It's a weird kind of feeling, because all I've ever known is to be a Blue Jacket,” Nash told The Columbus Dispatch. “I've always said there will be a soft spot in my heart for them, but this is an exciting opportunity as well.”
Nash – who was the first overall pick by Columbus in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft – played 674 games with the Blue Jackets, scoring 289 goals and 258 assists. He was selected to the All Star game five times but only appeared in the playoffs once – after the 2008-09 season – and was swept by the Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.
Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson has made some questionable calls during his tenure – just look up what he traded to Philadelphia for goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky – but he might have actually got this one right! Nash wasn’t exactly an easy sell for Howson.
He might be in his prime but he has a cap hit of $7.8 million through 2018, which is definitely a turn-off. Not to mention he has a no-trade clause that has a short list of teams he might want to play for, while players like Shane Doan, Alex Semin and Bobby Ryan were all cheaper, short-term alternatives.
On the other side of the deal the Rangers got exactly what the team needed.
For years the Rangers have had the elite goaltender and last season the team built an elite defense in front of him – allowing the third least amount of goals in the league – but it was their offense that was eventually their downfall. New York averaged 2.71 goals-per-game, which was 11th in the league, but the well went dry in the playoffs as the Rangers were 9th in scoring. Nash should help change all of that.
The only thing that sucks about Nash going to the Rangers is that now we have to wait and see what a line of Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik can do.
While one team traded to rebuild and begin a new era, the other added what it hopes is the final piece of a Stanley Cup champion. The affects of both will be felt by each franchise for the next few seasons.
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