So, with the NHL 2012 Draft now officially over the week-long wait til free agency begins. The Rangers did not make any real noise at the draft and the rumors of a Rick Nash trade continue to swirl overhead. One potential suitor for Nash, or Bobby Ryan, has been very active, as the Flyers traded away both James van Riemsdyk and Sergei Bobrovsky in separate deals. Whether Holmgren is positioning his team for another major move, or simply retooling to fix last season's shortcomings is yet to be seen. Scott Howson seems set on now waiting for free agency to begin in hope of desperate teams increasing their offers for Nash as the already thin free agent market begins to evaporate.
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Ranger fans are an emotional bunch, and I have heard extremists on either side of the Nash trade topic. Here's how I see it:
To begin with, I have an extremely high opinion of Rick Nash as a hockey player. I think that the consistency of his numbers over his nine seasons in Columbus are damn near incredible considering the lack of talent around him. I think that where ever he ends up playing this season he is nearly a lock to score 40 goals.
That being said, I do not feel any sense of desperation for the Rangers to trade for him. Do I think he could help the Rangers? Absolutely, but the team showed that there is a lot of talent here already. The team didn't blow anyone out of the building, but still won games consistently. The reason for this was players becoming comfortable with each other and buying into Torts' system. For the first time in a long time the Rangers weren't a bunch of individuals, but a cohesive unit. I can't believe I'm writing this, but I think that Sather knows better than to break that unit up and will be cautious in his bargaining this off season. Team chemistry is an extremely fragile thing and once lost it can be nearly impossible to fix.
If other teams back out and the Rangers are able to nab Nash for a reasonable package, say Dubinsky, Erixon, Miller and a 2013 pick, great. Otherwise, there are other avenues to explore. Bobby Ryan is an obvious choice, but Anaheim will likely want a kings ransom for him as well. One of these days Jay Feaster has to realize its time to discuss a trade with Iggy, right? Iginla must at least be somewhat interested in pursuing a cup with a contender. He could slot in nicely on Richards' wing. Ray Whitney is apparently ageless and, despite coming off an excellent year in the desert, at 40 he could possibly be had at a bargain rate.
A season like the 2011-12 Rangers' can go a long way in the development of young players. Stepan, Hagelin, McDonagh and Del Zotto will all continue to improve and should up their offensive output. A full season of Chris Kreider is an exciting thought judging by his impressive playoff outburst. Tim Erixon appears ready to play a full season in the NHL. Brandon Dubinsky will have a better season (it's pretty much impossible for him not to..). And the best goalie in the world will continue to man the pipes (Congrats on the Vezina, Hank!).
Even without adding a shining star like Nash, the future is pretty bright on Broadway.
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