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Reasonable expectations: Rick Nash

When the Rangers acquired Rick Nash last month, they did so knowing they were solidifying their primary offensive line, and compensating for the Marian Gaborik injury. However, many have been setting the bar for Nash very high, to the point where fans may be setting themselves up for disappointment.

First things first, let’s get Nash’s career averages out of the way. Sticking with post-lockout hockey (which omits a 17 goal season and a 41 goal season), Nash has averaged 33 goals and 64 points in the seven seasons since the work stoppage. He has done this while spending the majority of his time with second line talent at best. The natural inclination is that Nash, playing on a line with Brad Richards, will be able to produce much more than that.

However, how much more can Nash produce? He’s already in the top-ten in post-lockout scorers, and at 28 years old is already at his peak. Plus, there’s no guarantee he plays with Richards, as they have very similar styles and may not mesh the way people are hoping. If he and Richards don’t mesh, then Nash will likely be playing with Derek Stepan. Stepan is no slouch, but he’s no Richards yet.

With Gaborik out for an extended period of time though, it’s safe to assume that Nash will at least get the first month or two (if the season starts on time) with Richards. That may inflate his numbers a bit, but it may not. What we do know –no matter who he plays with– is that while Gaborik is out, Nash is the primary scorer for the Rangers, and will be getting every opportunity to be that guy.

One factor that might work against Nash is that it’s his first season outside of Columbus and with a new system. Columbus –especially under Ken Hitckcock– was a defense first system, which is not what the Rangers play. While the Jackets were more of a trapping team, the Rangers are a very aggressive forechecking team. While that may play into Nash’s favor in the long run, there is a big adjustment period there. These are two completely different styles of hockey. Suit put it best when he said that there is a huge difference between puck pursuit teams (Rangers) and passive defensive teams (Blue Jackets).

In one of my previous posts about tempering expectations, I mentioned that we should expect 30 goals 65 points in his first season. I still stand by that expectation, with the caveat that this is the minimum that Nash should be producing for the Rangers. In a full season with both Richards and Gaborik in the lineup, Nash should be able to eclipse that to the 35 goals/75 point total. As for now, it might be best to expect his career averages as he gets used to a new system.

6 Responses to “Reasonable expectations: Rick Nash”

  1. SalMerc says:

    40 Goals and 85 points

  2. Walt says:

    If Nash skates a whole season with Richards, I can see him with 43-45 goals, and 85-88 points.

    If he skates with Step, then I can see him with 40-43 goals, and 82-85 points.

    In either case, he will have a banner year, not because he’s that good, but because he has something to prove, and will make Sather look great with this deal.

    Lets face it folks, who do you defend against, Gabby, or Nash?? Whomever you decide to defend against, the other will eat your lunch! The icing on the cake will be that if Nash skates with Step, and Chris Kreider as a wing, the kid will get some great experience skating with the best power forward in the NHL.

  3. Section 121 says:

    65 pts is reasonable, 85 pts is not reasonable

    • SalMerc says:

      Gaborik had 76 points last yeat and we were in the bottom 3rd in scoring as a team. We need to move up the line in team scoring. Nash should help us do that. If Gabby misses a month and Nash plays a full season, I cannot see why Nash can’t have 75 points and Gabby 65. I think when they play in the same games, this is where we should reap the benefits of having 2 dangerous lines available. This will happen in mid-December when the lockout ends.