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July 23, 2012 | 5:32pm ET
Nash gets wish; off to NYC
 Rangers get their man, but Blue Jackets add quality to rebuilding roster.

NEW YORK, NY -- The waiting is over. Rick Nash will be making his Broadway debut when the NHL makes it return. And while nobody has an inkling when that will be, we now know for sure that Glen Sather has added a shiny new toy to his collection.

The New York Rangers have not had the best track record with adding stars. Bobby Holik, Scott Gomez and even Eric Lindros have all be Broadway busts, but the past few years have been different.

In his three seasons here, Marian Gaborik has basically lived up to the back of his hockey card. Brad Richards, save for a less than stellar postseason, contributed more than admirably in his first year in New York City.

The return is unquestionably a win for a Ranger team that has worked for years to build an impressive young core. They were able to acquire a consistent 30-goal scorer without moving out any major parts.

Brandon Dubinsky, the 26-year-old forward, was long considered an integral part of the core. That was, until Sather made him a wealthy 26-year-old forward. Last year, he had arguably one of his worst seasons, and was seemingly snake-bitten all year long. He struggled to find consistency, while still be a strong possession player with exceptional board work.

"I think this organization still believes in me," Dubinsky lamented on break-up day.

Unfortunately, for him, what they actually believed was that sending him West would hurt their organization the least.

Dubinsky, fully cognizant of his down year, knows he needs to work up to his full potential this upcoming season. What he didn't know, however, was that he would be doing it as a Blue Jacket.

"Obviously this was not the season I was hoping for," he said. "I still believe in myself and know what I am capable of."

Artem Anisimov, who gained more notoriety from comically miming a rifle shot after scoring a goal against Tampa Bay this season then from his play, is the second roster forward who will be skating with a different logo on his chest. Anisimov, is a big bodied, outwardly quiet player, who is often infuriating to watch.

While he possesses a solid wrist shot, and decent hands, he skates with his head down far too often. Sometimes missing his chance to be in the perfect position, and other times getting absolutely crushed by the opposing team.

The most intriguing aspect of the return for Columbus is 21-year-old defenseman Tim Erixon. Son of former Ranger Jan Erixon, Tim all but forced his way to NY after refusing to sign with Calgary. He was thrilled to be a part of the New York Rangers organization, but it was a brief thrill.

"Obviously I would have been thrilled to get an NHL opportunity with any club but it is a bit surreal to end up in the same organization as my Dad (and my Cousin, Oscar)," he said. "Growing up, I heard so many stories from his playing days with the Rangers that it is exciting to be following in his footsteps."

Tim, who is no longer following in his father's footsteps, is considered one of the top D prospects in the NHL. Hockey Prospectus' Corey Pronman had the following to say about the young defender before his first AHL season.

"Erixon is a pro-level skater, maybe even a tad above that, with a fluid stride and overall mobility that projects well. He's decent with the puck... a plus passer, and NHL sources rave about his ability to efficiently and accurately move the puck up the ice and distribute on the power play. He's very aware with and without the puck. His quick and effective decision-making help him contribute in all situations. His defensive game is extremely sound and he is one of the best shutdown defenders in the prospect world."

With an already very deep blueline, Erixon would have had a tough time cracking the top four of the Rangers this coming season. He could very likely see a good amount of pro-time in Columbus, and with the right partner he could absolutely flourish.

Nash's value has been discussed ad nauseum with some pundits throwing out top roster players, while others explaining that it is too risky a proposition.

The facts are: Rick Nash has declined each of the last three seasons, he has a $7.8 million cap hit, he has scored 30 goals every season but two, and he has never been surrounded by top talent.

The reason for the smaller return than expected was likely the cap hit. He has the highest hit on a team with Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist. His $7.8 million is a strong cap hit for a player who is not considered one of the best in the game. The Rangers, however, are hoping that one their team, in John Tortorella's system, he becomes just that.

Columbus GM Scott Howson also likely lost leverage after it was made very clear that Nash did not want to lace up the skates at Nationwide Arena when the season opened.

"With respect to Rick Nash, he approached us and asked us to consider trading him," explained Howson at the trade deadline. "We agreed to accommodate his request as long as we could get a deal that would provide us with cornerstone pieces to help us to compete for a Stanley Cup championship in the coming years. It did not happen by 3 o'clock today. This is too important to our franchise and our fans to do a deal that is not in our best interests."

While Columbus may not have acquired any cornerstone pieces, they certainly helped their depth by moving the face of their franchise. With three first round picks in 2012, Tim Erixon and Ryan Murray on the backend, and strong depth up front, Columbus has recharged themselves for the future. They are still in the process of the rebuild, but today they helped move that process just a little bit.

Patrick Kearns is a Columnist for TheFourthPeriod.com and the New York Correspondent for The Fourth Period Magazine.


 

 

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