The Rick Nash derby has finally come to an end. The power forward will be turning in his blue jacket for a blue shirt and joining the New York Rangers. As team TSN reports (with Darren Dreger first breaking the news and Bob McKenzie completing the package), Nash heads to the Big Apple in exchange for Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon, and a first-round pick.
According to Aaron Portzline, the Jackets will also be sending third pick and 6-foot-5 defenseman Stephen Delisle to the Rangers.
Kudos to Scott Howson for getting close what he wanted, even if he had to throw a few items back to get it. Back in February, when he failed to acquiesce Nash's trade request at the deadline, we learned that he had a very high asking price in mind: two NHL-ready players and two prospects. While no one offered a package that met his demands, Howson seemed undeterred, and refused any sort of rollback.
[Nicholas J. Cotsonika: Rick Nash makes the Rangers a serious contender]
He really couldn't afford to. This was always going to be the deal that defined Howson's tenure in Columbus, as Rick Nash has defined the Blue Jackets to this point. He's been the face of the franchise, and if Howson was unable to bring back anything else that could soften a face-losing blow, he'd be in tough to curry any favor going forward, especially after a season in which he himself lost more face than Harvey Dent.
Still, while he effectively achieved the number of pieces he asked for, I can't say this is a win for Howson, and not just because that's a sentence I've grown accustomed to not writing.
Anisimov and Dubinsky are decent top-six options, but neither are the sort of franchise forwards Howson was clearly looking for when he drew snickers asking for guys like Logan Couture and Jeff Skinner from the Sharks and Hurricanes. No Stepan. No Kreider.
But hey, Columbus fans might really like Anisimov's rifle-shooting celebration, what with how they fire a cannon every time the Jackets score.
Howson did achieve his goal of bringing back more than one NHL-ready forward, however. "If we do complete a trade," he said two weeks ago, "We're trading out a 30 to 40-goal scorer. Defense is probably the strongest part of our team if we look at it today. So we're looking to get some NHL forwards back first and foremost."
And he didn't do too bad on the futures front, either. Erixon's the Rangers' top defensive prospect and first-round picks can turn into valuable prospects, regardless of what Columbus' draft record would have you believe.
But all in all, there's nothing here that will get Columbus fans excited about seeing Rick Nash leave town. That's a loss, even if losing this trade was seemingly inevitable and Howson didn't lose it as badly as he might have.
As for the Rangers, well, they have Rick Nash now, and they still have a ton of cap space, so that massive contract won't stop them from doing anything else.
Brad Richards now has a serious power winger to play with, and their firepower up front is formidable. With Chris Kreider showing that he's ready for the next level, that's two very large wingers that John Tortorella can throw over the boards.
I'm sure he's downright giddy at how much shooting lane they'll take away.
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