As reported here earlier, the New York Rangers have sent forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov as well as prospect defenseman Tim Erixon and a first round draft pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for five-time All-Star power forward Rick Nash - Rangers GM Glen Sather's major target since the 2012 trade deadline last winter.
I'm sure you all remember the long nights spent waiting for the trigger to finally be pulled on this deal last season, only to fall to disappointment when nothing ever came of the rumors that were flying around like all hell had broken loose. The reason being, as we would later find out, was Columbus GM Scott Howson's inability to budge on demanding one of Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh or Chris Kreider (or even possibly all three when he had completely lost his marbles) for Nash. It was quite easy for Sather to reject such demands being that the three players listed there are all crucial pieces to the future of the franchise here in New York.
But knowing Sather for as long as we have, he does not stop at 'no'. When he wants something, he will do everything in his power to get it and get it by his standards. So now you fast forward nearly six months later, surpassing the NHL draft where a possible Nash trade was also negotiated upon, and four weeks of free agency, and Slats, as usual, finally got his way. And not only did he get his way, but he absolutely fleeced Howson and the Blue Jackets in the process.
1.) Brandon Dubinsky's time here on Broadway was over. He was the major name floating around when the rumors first came up last February, but even before then, I had written an article on this very blog where I stated that Dubinsky was quickly seceding from the core of the team - an article I was completely torn apart for, by the way. He went from leading the team in scoring one season to getting a big pay day over the following summer only to become nothing more than a penalty-killer for this Rangers team in 2011-12. At a $4.2 million annual salary, just ten goals was not going to cut it on this hockey club, and he was even less effective during the postseason. Sorry, but he needed to go.
2.) Artem Anisimov was someone I had a lot of hope for. At just 24-years-old, he still had a lot of developing to do but the problem there was that it was taking awfully long for that development to come full circle. Sure, he made strides each season, but nothing substantial and the inconsistency always seemed to lurk back into his game. I would've loved to have seen what he would have become here in New York if he stayed, but you must give to get and I much rather see Artie go than I would Derek Stepan.
3.) Tim Erixon has potential and the Blue Jackets will welcome him into their organization with open arms. That potential, however, would not have been taken advantage of with the Rangers, though. To be more clear, the opportunity just wasn't here for Tim. Erixon is an offensive defenseman, which the Rangers already have in Del Zotto and now Ryan McDonagh (in the process) as well. They need to bring more toughness to the blue-line, which would've put Dylan McIlrath ahead on the depth chart anyway. No real harm done in losing Erixon.
All in all, Glen Sather basically dumped unneeded pieces in order to fulfill a major need on this hockey club and acquire an elite consistent 30-goal scorer in 28-year-old Rick Nash. The only downside to Nash is that he still has six years remaining on his contract, all at $7.8 million per. That automatically makes him the highest paid player on the team with the lengthiest contract (other than Brad Richards).
But even so, Sather's magical work here is almost unfathomable. How on this planet earth do you get a GM's demands from Stepan, McDonagh and Kreider down to Dubinsky, Anisimov, Erixon and a pick? Sather's accomplishment here is one that should be marveled at, and he still has about $13.4 million to play with. If he can use some of that extra cash to bring in skilled depth such as Shane Doan, the Rangers will be favorites to revisit the Eastern Conference Finals for a second straight season, no doubt in my mind.