Archive for Rick Nash
The New York Rangers have won five games in a row. They are 7-0-2 in their last nine games, and are sitting atop the Metro Division. But yet the focus seems to be on Rick Nash, at least when it isn’t on Dan Girardi. Nash has just one goal thus far, and has drawn the ire of many fans. But I’m not all that concerned about Rick Nash. And neither should you.
We’ve discussed Nash here and there over the past month, mostly noting that he’s shooting well below his career average of 12.4% (he’s at just 3% now). He’s doing the right things, driving to the net, getting scoring chances, and creating offense for him and his teammates. It’s definitely a slump to start the season. That said, the process is there but the results, to date, have not.
In all reality the Rangers shouldn’t be leaning on Mats Zuccarello. After all, Zuccarello is somewhat middle of the pack when it comes to the big tickets assembled by the contending Rangers. A handful of forwards drop more salary. Zuccarello’s salary rank takes an even bigger hit when you factor in the blueline and a certain All-world goalie residing in the New York net.
The thing is, Zuccarello – also not yet at his best after his scary injury – has been the Rangers best and most consistent forward this season and there hasn’t been much competition. The Rangers just haven’t been good enough up front; whether it’s a lack of finishing (looking at you Mr Nash and Mr Kreider), struggling to establish a consistent forecheck or even helping out their own blueline who’ve faced countless odd man rushes in part because of the miscommunications with their forward brethren. The Rangers forwards aren’t where they need to be. Yet there is Zuccarello on course to smash his career high in goals in part thanks to his hattrick against the hapless Leafs while playing the best hockey amongst the Rangers vaunted top six.
The Rangers have now past the ten game mark of the new season, and will be taking on the cellar-dwelling Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at Madison Square Garden in search of a 7-2-2 start. There has been much to analyze in the early going, so naturally I have some thoughts…
1. Mainstream media analysis, especially in the early goings of a season, is especially broad. Good starts, slow starts and unexpected performers litter the narrative landscape. Reading publications like The Hockey News or ESPN, the assumption is that the Canadiens are invincible and the Ducks and Blue Jackets are toast. You dig a little deeper into the individual teams and you find that each club has it own sources of consternation and optimism.
Rangers special teams costing the Rangers games – already.
Some things remain the same? The Rangers powerplay is already costing the team games. It’s possible to win the Stanley Cup without a functioning powerplay. Boston did it a few years back but it’s certainly a lot easier to win the holy grail – and more realistic – to have at least a competent unit. The Rangers don’t have one, yet they have the personnel where it should rank at least in the top half of the league. A unit that features Nash, Yandle, Stepan and Kreider should be better. There is no movement, there is a lack of willingness to shoot. It’s only five games in but the inept powerplay could undermine the Rangers if Alain Vigneault can’t inject some life into the unit.
Let’s have a gander at the grades for the Rangers’ top two forward lines shall we?
Rick Nash’s overall season can be argued both as a positive and a negative. Indeed, there are few players that have divided opinion the way Nash has since he became a Ranger. A season that featured notable career highs but that was offset by another underwhelming postseason, things went as far as culminating with Nash being considered prime trade material this offseason. Hardly the appreciation you’d expect for a 42 goal player and early season Hart Trophy candidate. The problem is that Nash, like many Rangers, is now judged primarily on what he does after the regular season and this is where he failed to live up to both his regular season production and significant salary.
Nash needs to be a leader, the go-to guy offensively and in the postseason that didn’t happen nearly enough. Nash lacked postseason consistency, was never close to being his dominant regular season self and as the Rangers went quietly into the offseason, tellingly, so did Nash. Once again, despite solid numbers the microscope will firmly be on Nash come October. Despite the disappointing end, Nash finished in the top ten for the Hart trophy. Grade: B
Per Darren Dreger, a trade of Rick Nash is highly unlikely. There had been some rumblings that the Rangers were going to move Nash, but it was mostly speculation. Nash has the highest cap hit on a New York Rangers team that needs to clear cap space. However, there are much smarter ways to go about clearing cap space than dealing the team’s top goal scorer. The full video is below.
Dreger also discusses the Cam Talbot sweepstakes in the video. Talbot is discussed around the three-minute mark, Nash at the four-minute mark.
It’s still amazing to think that just a couple of short seasons ago, Mats Zuccarello was toiling away in the KHL because, well, the Rangers didn’t really want him. At best, they were certainly not convinced by him. Fast forward a few years and Zuccarello is absolutely irreplaceable on a club that harbours annual Stanley Cup hopes.
We all saw how the Rangers struggled to generate consistent offense in the playoffs. Zuccarello’s enforced absence early in the playoffs was almost an instant death knell to the team’s hopes of winning the Cup. It shouldn’t have been the case however.
The Rangers had Rick Nash, they had Marty St Louis in position to step up, they had their trio of young centers all entering the playoffs in good form and they had Chris ‘Mr Playoff’ Kreider. But it didn’t work out as intended. St Louis literally played himself out of a new contract and maybe even out of the league. Nash hasn’t ridden himself of his playoffs demons. So what does it all mean?
Eklund had a decent idea.
No, the blog hasn’t been hacked – I meant to write that. As whispers continue to grow that the Rangers are indeed seriously considering trading Rick Nash, the frequently mocked rumormonger “reported” that a potential destination for New York’s top forward could be the Detroit Red Wings for a package including Gustav Nyquist and draft picks.
Trading away a Hart Trophy contender is still likely a last resort for a club that has been just a few wins from the Stanley Cup in each of the last two seasons, but it’s also a move that the organization has to at least consider given the salary cap crunch. The Blueshirts barely have enough cash to keep their core together, let alone improve the roster with additions. And after getting so close to the top of the mountain in three of the last four seasons, there will again be the temptation to shake things up to avoid plateauing.
Which brings us to the aforementioned proposal. There are no sources cited nor any credible publications that have made the Nash/Detroit connection, so this is simply spit balling. That said – if momentum builds within the front office for a Nash deal, then that hypothetical trade makes a lot of sense for both sides. Read More→
I love the offseason. It’s a chance to go through available players and play armchair-GM to make your favorite team a Cup contender next season. But with the offseason comes a season of lunacy. People thinking Tanner Glass will fetch this team a 3rd round pick. Or that Cam Talbot will fetch the #1 overall pick.
In the salary cap era, not many teams are able to throw big money at free agents at will. But yet, that doesn’t stop the media from throwing the Rangers out there as a possible destination for every single free agent. This usually starts with one member of the media speculating, with absolutely no basis, and then every other outlet picking it up.
This year, it appears that Rick Nash is the target of the trade rumors. It all started with Larry Brooks’ column five days ago, a seemingly innocuous post about how the Rangers will look to trade Nash to free up cap space. He even has a possible trade scenario: Nash to St. Louis for T.J. Oshie, Alex Steen, and Jaden Schwartz.
Who’s ready for another Game 7? I’m writing this as I watch the Blackhawks and Ducks duel, and it’s another reminder how much more enjoyable elimination games are when it’s not your team that’s playing. Tomorrow night is sure to be pure agony, at least until the final buzzer sounds. Then, hopefully, it will have been a ton of fun.
Since I can’t formulate coherent thoughts before this one, on to the musings:
– Though we can’t help but hope, there’s pretty much no chance Mats Zuccarello will play tomorrow. That said – if he were to practice today and was miraculously deemed game ready, where would he fit in the lineup? Zuccarello is not going to replace J.T. Miller in his old spot alongside Rick Nash and Derick Brassard after that trio produced 13 points in Game Six. Putting Zuccarello on the fourth line would obviously be a waste – but the same goes for Martin St. Louis, so slotting Zuc in on the third line and bumping MSL down doesn’t make sense either. The most likely hypothetical scenario would be to have Zuc replace Jesper Fast on the second line – but it’d be a real shame to banish Fast to fourth line Siberia with the way he’s played. Too bad it doesn’t matter.
– Speaking of Nash/Brassard/Miller, I did some quick addition after Tuesday’s game and noticed that the trio has accounted for 20 points in the series, just two fewer than the terrifying Triplets. Of course, 13 in one game skews that quite a bit, but hey, they did pretty much win that game singlehandedly (with help from Hank). You can show me all the statistics you want that say “clutch” isn’t real, but I refuse to believe it, and Brassard is a perfect counterexample.