Rangers need Nash more than they need to make a trade

March 3, 2014, by


Other than the start of free agency, perhaps there’s no other time of the year where hockey fans, the media, and even front office staff get overly excited about other team’s players. Some trade deadline’s end up as complete busts, while other’s see more movement than anyone could have anticipated. How this week will turn out, nobody knows for sure.

However, for the first time in a rather long time, I’m hoping the Rangers will stand pat. Even if it means holding on to you-know-who regardless of whether he signs a new contract by 3pm Wednesday. This year the reason to stand pat is simple — we’re playing very well and we still have yet to see the best of Rick Nash.

The Rangers are 17-9 since the holidays. Their PP is clicking around 20%, their highest in years. Hank is back to his old self. The teams directly below them in the standings (e.g., the Capitals, Maple Leafs, etc.) look to be anything but complete or elite. Other than last night’s flop against the Bruins, the Rangers are still headed in the right direction.

Despite all that, everyone still seems to want to make a trade. Whether it is for Martin St. Louis for his skill or Chris Stewart for his grit, the never-ending desire for new toys continues. But what about team chemistry?  Have we even seen this team at its best yet? I think not.

While other players certainly need to step their game up coming down the homestretch — hello Derek Stepan — perhaps no player could have a greater impact than Rick Nash. At this point, the guy has been healthy for over three months. That’s more than enough time to get acquainted with Alain Vigneault and his system.

To date, Nash has been averaging 0.66 pts per game, his lowest output since his rookie year (02-03). His 8 hits in 45 games this season are also somewhat alarming given he was supposed to be the power forward we had always been missing.

Still, all hope is not lost for the big man. Nash’s days as being a premiere power forward in this league are probably behind him, but what we do need to see more of is game to game consistency. Some nights he looks like the Nash of last season, driving to the net and creating grade A chances between the hash marks. Other nights, I can’t find him.

If AV can find a way to get Nash back to producing close to the level that Torts got out of him last year, or even what Arniel got out of him in Columbus, the Rangers will be far better equipped to handle a series against Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, etc. Those teams have had our number in the past. This year could be different, but we can’t go into battle without Nash at his best.

Categories : Players


  1. JoeS. says:

    nice job Suit! I agree, this team as currently put together could go a long way. the only thing I worry about is if they are big enough to make it through a couple of7 game series with the beasts of the east. What do you think, are they?

  2. NY to NC says:

    Stepan has to go. He is nothing more than a 2nd assist guy and is doing nothing to help Kreider or Nash. Having him as your 1st line center…are you kidding me? Just because he has a friendly contract is no reason to not trade him.

    • RangerSmurf says:

      The 2nd assist thing has been debunked several times already. His 1st assist% is virtually the same (or better) than just about every “#1 center” in the league.

      • The Suit says:

        Good stuff Smurf. However, even if his assists were predominantly secondary assists, who cares?

        I’d take a player with volume over concentration any day of the week.

        • Dave says:

          Sometimes the secondary assist is more important than the primary assist. An assist is an assist.

  3. Arisrules says:

    How many goals does Nash have since he found his game after his injuries early in the year? The team really found its form once Nash got his game back and we became a multi-line piece. I do not think this analysis is representative of the year Nash has had. If this had been written early December, I would have concurred.

    • The Suit says:

      He has 4 points in his last 10 games. Not terrible, but not where we need him to be.

      However, my thoughts on Nash go beyond the stat sheet as well. Of late he’s been skating into triple coverages, not forechecking when he needs to, not driving to the net, etc. I think he needs to do the little things more consistently, especially away from the puck and the offense will come with it.

      • Leo says:

        Where ever Nash skates he skates into a double team or triple team. And why is that, because you don’t let the best player on the other team beat you. Also who else puts any kind of fear offensively into the opposing team? Krieder? Stepan? Richards? Come on you should know better.

        The guy is on pace to score 25-30 goals which he consistently does. You want to nitpick at someone’s game there are many others on this team we can talk about. He is not Ovie, Crosby or Malkin he needs help. And there is no other offensive threat on this team that offers that.

        Going into the corners and going to the net I would have to believe after 3 concusions in 2 years you’d tend to back off a bit.

    • Leo says:

      What killed this team were two very stupid trades over the last 3 years. The trade for that clown from S.J giving up picks to get get nothing Iin return. 2nd one was the Gaborik trade you just aquired a 30 goal scorer in Nash because this team couldn’t score then you trade away a 30 goal scorer.

      It’s not so much Gaborik as much as the treat he was. I know he’s been injured since going to the Bluejackets. Yet not replacing the threat has killed this offense. And if he isn’t traded you don’t know if he get’s injured. Still not looking to replace to threat is completely stupid.

  4. Bloomer says:

    This is the time of year where the Rangers give up their draft picks to improve their team going into the playoffs. I been saying all along that Callahan should remain with the Rangers until the end of the season.
    But, now I think its time to trade him. He hasn’t moved off his ridiculous contract demands and the Rangers will need the cap space. They could receive rather then give away some draft picks and quite frankly Callahan hasn’t have a great season, he can be replaced. There is plenty of other players on the roster to wear the “C”.

  5. SalMerc says:

    The team needs to put 4 lines out there that scare the opponent. We do not do that. Yes, Nash needs to play up to his standards, but we still could use a threat on the 3rd line. Sadly, I am beginning to agree that Stepan and Cally need to go to make room for a sniper and a playmaker. I wouldn’t be surprised if we started shopping Stralman either. He is at best a 5th defenseman now.

    • Tyler says:

      Stralman is more valuable to us than the return he would bring in a trade. He has been very steady for the rangers. You want a threat on the third line? What about Zuccerello? he was tied with Richards for team lead before the olympics. I still believe Stepan is young and will continue to develop into more well-rounded player. Cally on the other hand knows what he his, and knows his value. So many teams are looking for players with grit and a scoring touch. They are the most valued players in the league IMO(i.e Lucic). But Callahan has not, and will not ever be a 7 million dollar a year player. I love Callahan but we are going to regret signing Callahan if we do. He is gonna turn into the next Drury very quickly.

  6. The Suit says:

    Katie Strang is reporting that Callahan’s camp has moved off of his original demands of $6.5+ mill per over 7 years.


  7. Frank Cerbone says:

    Buffalo traded its captain Steve Ott and is now sitting on a couple of number ones and twos draft choices in this years draft. Plus, Buffalo will probably move Moulson for a #1 as well.

    Could see Rangers trading Callahan for a Buffalo 31 and #2 in this year’s solid draft. Hoping JT Miller is here to stay and Lindberg is on the horizon. Callahan, a solid captain, solid player, but not a $6.5 mil player.

  8. Paco33 says:

    Why on earth would Buffalo trade any assets for a player they can just sign during the off-season?

    • Chris A says:

      I could see them dealing a 3rd rounder just to get a head start on negotiations. It happens more often than you think in the NHL.

      • Chris A says:

        Oh just to clarify, I meant they would deal a 3rd rounder to the Rangers for Callahan’s rights once the season was over.

        The Rangers would be crazy to take a 3rd rounder at the deadline for Cally, better to let him play out his contract at that point.

  9. paulronty says:

    I think Stepan is more of a problem than Nash at this point. Hard to believe that missing training camp has resulted in his lacklustre play but hell look what the lockout did to Richards. Getting high draft choices for Cally would be a very astute move if he doesn’t lowerr his demands further and there are only 1 or 2 days for that. If he and the Sabres can agree on a contract for what he wants before Wednesday trade him for a #1 & Nikita Zhadorov.

    • SalMerc says:

      Stepan needs to sit a game or 2.

      • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

        The problem with that is that Stepan is the only righty Centerman on the roster. The Rangers need righties. It makes it much harder to defend against having a good mix of L/R along the lineup. The Rangers will score more with a righty on the RW.

      • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

        And Stepan has quietly had a decent season. It’s the wingers that need to score more IMO.

  10. Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

    So true. Everyone wants new toys when we aren’t getting much from our core players. By the way without Brad Richards this season might look more like the Islanders. Good team but took too long and are too far behind in the playoff race.
    The Rangers just haven’t gotten enough from top line players. Stepan & Kreider have also not been consistent. I really feel the top line may be a bit much for a young kid in his first full NHL season. He has missed on chances and not used his skills every night. The team would also do some good by having Nash on his natural left side and having a righty on the top line.

  11. Ray says:

    Funny you say Hank is bank to normal after ten goals in two games and especially last night. Lundqvist looked so clumsy the first fifteen minutes last night that I expected the Rangers to lose. Hopefully, we see his pre-Olympic form soon – or even better, his Olympic form.

  12. Chris A says:

    I think yesterday might have been too much, too soon for Hank. I would have given Talbot one of the weekend games if I was AV.

    That being said I don’t pin either loss on the goalkeeping. Rangers stopped skating and allowed Boston back in that game last night. The Rangers dominated the first 16 minutes and then started to pay attention to Boston’s thuggish tactics. That was Boston’s way back in and the Rangers allowed it. Hopefully, it’s a lesson learned. Just ignore their crap. Keep skating hard with the puck and keep smoking the slow bullies out wide.

  13. Leatherneckinlv says:

    I would like to see us get a center for Nash. Stepan should play with Kreider and Callahan. We have a great third line with Zuke, Brass and Pouliot. I think it is time to bring up Kyle Beach and get a look at his physicality. He does have soft hands too. Hagelin with Nash and Richards should be the look for right now. I have noticed that Stepan and Kreieder do have chemistry together

  14. Frank Cerbone says:

    Callahan for a #3? Never happen; #2 or better at the least.

    Lundquist struggling? EVERYONE that knows anything about hockey knew in the off season that Vigneault was more about the power play & offense than Torts defensive style. We all knew the new stategy of offense 1st philosophy would be at Lundquist’s expense. SO WHY THE SURPRISE? Most of the Ranger players are minus players now with the offense 1st philosophy. However, the power play is improved.

    Physicality has not improved; Haley, Prust,Asham Bickel are gone and Dorsett and Carcillo are replacements. Neither one is a fighter of any note.

    In the offseason both Tanner Glass & Derek Engelland are UFAs, will be former Pittsburgh players, very rarely take stupid PM like Dorsett, and are good fighters.

  15. Leo says:

    If you believe what you have wrote you missed the last few years. First playing well only get’s you a pat on the back. 2nd any physical team would kill this team watch the Flyers and Bruins games for the evidence. This team is the only team that wants to mantain mediocre status.

    Keeping the same core only brings failure. Trading and singing garbage 3rd and 4th line players is not the way to go.This core is not good enough and it has been proven. Only two forwards on this team have upside. And Miller can’t find a way to stick. Cally needs to go I love him as a player but too many years and too much money for a guy who can’t stay healthy.

    Don’t need another Drury or Gomez contract. Yet you don’t trade to just trade. It’s time to bring in some pure offensive talent. Too much money spent on marginal 2nd and 3rd line players. Not enough pure offensive talent.