With the World Cup of Hockey just over three weeks away and the actual NHL season starting shortly after that, many NHL teams have started to take shape as the offseason begins to come to a close. That doesn’t stop the daily headlines of teams like the Ducks, Sabres, and Blues all “showing interest” in Rick Nash. While many Rangers fans throughout the entire offseason have been constantly talking about Nash being moved for another player. There are many reasons why that at this point in the offseason, trading Rick Nash would backtrack the progress the Rangers have made to build a strong team.
Goal Generating Ability
If Nash is fully healthy as he should be by October 13 on opening night, Rangers fans should expect another season similar to the 42 goal, 27 assist season Nash put up in 2014- 15. Nash is just 32 years old and will be expected to play as well as he did last season before his injury. In 45 games last season before getting hurt, Nash had 12 goals and 21 assists. Having a forward with the ability to be dangerous shooting the puck as well as passing the puck is absolutely necessary for any team that expects to make noise and compete and Nash does it better than any other forward on the team at this point in time.
While Nash is noted for being an extremely talented goal scorer, one of his best talents is his ability to set up other players. He can get past defenders and set up his linemates for goals, which he has done time and time again on the Rangers, setting up guys not necessarily known for their ability to score, tallying 82 assists with the Rangers during his tenure. Not only is Nash a dangerous passer, he also opens up the ice with his rocket of a shot. Teams are forced to guard him and the passing lane to him tightly, leaving more space on the ice elsewhere so his teammates can work efficiently. With Nash, the little things he does makes him extremely valuable to the success of the Rangers.
Nash is most known for his ability to score the puck at what can still be an elite level but many don’t appreciate Nash for his spectacular two-way game. Nash has a great defensive stick and is also extremely important on the penalty kill. Not only does he prevent goals but when Nash is at his best he is known for being able to contribute to the scoresheet while shorthanded. Nash has seven shorthanded goals and four shorthanded assists as a Ranger, helping constantly demoralize teams by turning a penalty kill into a scoring opportunity.
The Rangers had one of the worst penalty kills in the league last season, so having a healthy Nash back along with newly signed defensive specialists Nathan Gerbe and Michael Grabner, it will likely return the Rangers back to being one of the best penalty kill teams in the league with Nash as a major part of that. Nash is known to have a long reach as well as an extremely active stick, able to take passes away and clear the puck in one foul swoop to help bail out tired teammates and overworked goaltenders in both Lundqvist and Raanta.
If the Rangers moved Nash in a trade, they would probably become the youngest forward core in the NHL. The Rangers had the oldest NHL team in 2016 at an average age of 28.2 years of age, including 11 separate players aged 30 or older last season playing with the team. That number will almost certainly decrease down to four, with Rick Nash, Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein, and Henrik Lundqvist being the only four to start the season at age 30 or over.
Nash is known for being a good leadership figure in the locker room and can provide a lot of help for the younger talent on the team with Vesey, Zibanejad, Miller, and Buchnevich all 23 years of age or younger, Buchnevich and Vesey being rookies to the NHL. Any contender needs older talent to help show the younger players how to carry themselves in the NHL and there’s no better than Rick Nash to make them better. Nash is known as a teacher, and having a teammate with a Rocket Richard and five all-star game appearances can help motivate younger players who want to have the same success Nash has had in the past.
Nash is not the problem. While lackluster play in the postseason years ago may still linger to this day, Nash has improved his play in the postseason and is considered one of the best two-way forwards in the league, so trading him for a player who could be a rental would make little to no sense. Nash is a special player and when healthy, it’s hard to match his ability to anyone else in the league, and giving up on him with this much talent on the current team would likely stunt the growth of multiple players on the team as well as knocking the Rangers back to the fringe playoff team they were with John Tortorella at the helm of the ship.