With highly touted forward Jimmy Vesey inking a deal with the New York Rangers, does that mean Rick Nash’s time on Broadway is over?
This offseason has certainly been an adventure for the New York Rangers. After making “win now” moves over the past three years, including acquiring guys like Martin St. Louis, Keith Yandle, and Eric Staal, while showing others, such as former captain Ryan Callahan and highly touted young forward Anthony Duclair (who, by the way, is on his way to being a very successful NHL player in Arizona) the exit door, Jeff Gorton and company knew that changes had to be made on Broadway.
Although they didn’t address one of their main needs, which was finding a viable replacement for Yandle, they certainly made improvements in one area: acquiring youthful talent.
Now, I know Brassard was arguably the Rangers’ most consistent player during his tenure in the Big Apple, but in Zibanejad they get a player who is primed to be a star in this league. The former 2011 sixth overall pick has improved every year he’s been in the league and the Swede provides Alain Vigneault with size and speed up the middle of the ice.
The Rangers also retained all four of their main RFAs: J.T. Miller, Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, and Dylan McIlrath, all at very affordable price tags. Gorton also decided to sign former third-round pick Pavel Buchnevich, 21, out of the KHL, only adding to the youth movement in New York.
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Finally, the Rangers got their man. Gorton inked Hobey Baker Award winner Jimmy Vesey to a two-year entry-level deal. The 23-year old was an absolute stud with the Harvard Crimson and is expected to provide an immediate impact for the Blueshirts.
Call it a rebuild, call it a retool, call it both.
Any which way you slice it, it’s obvious that virtually every move this offseason was dedicated to adding more young talent. With that being the clear goal set by the front office, it begs the question, “Can they get even younger?”
Well, let’s take a look.
Lundqvist isn’t going anywhere so that is that. In a perfect world, Girardi and Staal would be elsewhere at the moment, but their contracts tell a different story. Klein definitely has decent trade value, but it appears Gorton would like to keep the veteran defenseman.
Then there is Rick Nash.
Nash is a very interesting case. A 32-year old with an anemic cap hit ($7.8 million to be exact) doesn’t necessarily scream valuable, but Nash just may be that exception.
The former number one overall pick settled for 15 goals and 36 points in last year’s injury-shortened campaign, but Nash is just a season removed from a 42 goal output. If he can revive that offensive game, the former Columbus Blue Jacket would bring a nice return for Jeff Gorton.
In addition, Nash’s penalty killing abilities are greatly undervalued. His long reach gives him the ability to get in the passing lanes and block shots.
He exposed these skills in Game 3 against the Pittsburgh Penguins this past year. He deflected a pass from Evgeni Malkin at the point directly to Kevin Klein. Klein found Nash streaking up the left wing boards, where he carried the puck into the zone and beat goalie Matt Murray over the glove, resulting in the only goal at home for the Rangers during the entire series.
Moving Nash would leave a void up front for Alain Vigneault’s squad, but the Jimmy Vesey signing would absolutely lessen the pain of Nash leaving. If they dealt Nash, Kreider and Vesey would be the top two left wingers, with Buchnevich and Nathan Gerbe being on the bottom two lines.
Yes, there are question marks there, but that is a very formidable group of forwards on the left side.
If the Rangers were to say goodbye to Nash, they would have to fill a need in return for the big lefty. With Yandle signing in Florida, the Rangers have a void to fill at the blue line.
Other than the top pairing of Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Klein, there are a surplus of question marks on defense.
Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are both coming off miserable years and, although Brady Skjei was solid in the playoffs, we don’t know if he can maintain that pace over an 82-game season. The acquisition of Nick Holden was a good start, but he is nothing more than a third pair defenseman.
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The Ducks are looking for a first line forward, and Nash could very well be that guy. A package centered around Fowler and Nash would make a ton of sense for both parties, even if the Blueshirts have to retain some salary.
The Rangers would be getting a 24-year old puck moving defenseman who would help lessen the burden on McDonagh this upcoming year, while the Ducks would finally find a left winger to go along with franchise cornerstones Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
Any deal that involves Rick Nash would be tough to get done. However, now that Gorton has added depth to this group of forwards, the Rangers could afford to lose Nash to address another need.
Get it done, Gorts.