What do Theo Fleury, Eric Lindros, Pavel Bure, Brendan Shanahan and even Jaromir Jagr all have in common? Despite varying levels of success as a Ranger, each of the aforementioned stars were acquired by the Rangers on the downside of their career.
In the case of Fleury and Lindros both players had productive spells as Rangers even if their spells in NY were classed as failures. Of course Jagr had a substantial impact on the Rangers, including perhaps the greatest scoring season in Ranger history. But even the great Jaromir Jagr came to the Rangers labeled as ‘damaged goods’ and past his Pittsburgh prime. Of course, Jagr managed to reclaim some of the shine from his career in New York. All this brings us to the Rangers’ newest superstar, Rick Nash.
As a player that brings the potential for so much more upon (and not before) his arrival in New York, Nash breaks the mold of these past superstar acquisitions. Brad Richards is also in this mold, but not as much so as Nash. This is a refreshing change for the Rangers and perhaps the greatest reason for optimism in the current squad.
Naturally, Rick Nash came to New York with questions as well. Was he worth the contract? Was he worth the amount given up for his acquisition? Could he take his own game to the next level? Perhaps the greatest question mark was about his failures to take Columbus beyond the stigma associated with expansion teams – the Blue Jackets have remained a failure on the ice for over ten years.
All of these questions are irrelevant. Not even Sidney Crosby could have single-handedly made some of those Blue Jacket clubs contenders. There’s also nothing Nash could do about being offered the sum of money Doug McLean threw at him to be their franchise player. Plus, he is already (comfortably) proving the trade made by Sather was highway robbery on the part of the Rangers GM; even allowing for a slight lack of depth at present.
Nash is a legitimate superstar. He’s a game changer who constantly influences games when he’s on the ice. His one goal total so far is no cause for concern. He draws coverage like no other Ranger, he’s contributing defensively (better than most anticipated), physically, and in the form of primary assists. Even without goals Nash is the impact player Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, and Tim Erixon never will be. It’s because of Rick Nash (and Henrik Lundqvist) that this club has legitimate designs on the Stanley Cup.
Marian Gaborik came to the Rangers as a legitimate, yet underappreciated superstar, but one who also had legitimate question marks (health). Brad Richards still has question marks due to the somewhat crazy but necessary length of his deal (he’ll probably need to have at least five productive years to justify the term to many). The rest of the Rangers roster is made up of very good players who are not quite superstar level. Rick Nash is. He’s a genuine superstar player that the Rangers can put up against other clubs’ best with confidence.
It’s been a very long time since the Rangers acquired a current superstar (financial terms somewhat withstanding) that could be a Ranger for a very long time. Nash has the chance to leave his mark on the franchise for the next decade. He has the chance to help take this club to heights rarely visited. Rick Nash, with a little luck and some careful roster management, represents to Rangers fans true Stanley Cup ambition/hope. That’s a refreshing change, isn’t it?