New York Hockey: trade

Rapid Reaction: Rangers acquire Rick Nash

July, 23, 2012

The Garden will get a Nash after all. After the New York Knicks fumbled their chance to acquire PG Steve Nash earlier this summer, the Rangers sealed the deal to acquire winger Rick Nash from Columbus at what appears to be a very affordable price -- forwards Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, blue line prospect Tim Erixon and a first-round pick. As Nash gets ready to slip off his blue jacket for a blue shirt, here’s an early look at the potential impact:

What it means: The New York Rangers have landed the summer’s hottest trade-market commodity in what many pundits believe to be a steal of a deal. With the Blueshirts badly in need of scoring after averaging just 2.15 goals per game during the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Nash -- a seven-time 30-plus goal scorer -- will instantly infuse some offense into what was sometimes a goal-starved lineup. The trade also adds to the Rangers' current arsenal without depleting its steadily growing stockpile of prospects (recently ranked 13th in ESPN Insider’s Organizational Rankings). With D Tim Erixon the only major young asset heading to Columbus, the Rangers’ Stanley Cup window should remain open even after Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik -- New York's projected top line once Gaborik returns from a torn labrum -- hit the down slope of their careers.

What’s the risk: It seems to be pretty limited in the short term. The Rangers don’t appear to lose much offense from last year’s Cup contender (26 regular-season goals) and bring in one of the foremost snipers in the league. The long term gets a little more dicey. Nash is under contract for six more seasons at $7.8M per year. Should Nash’s production decline, that cap hit could be rather unpalatable in the years to come. Balancing that risk, however, are young guns like Carl Hagelin and Chris Kreider, who could provide substantial offensive production at very reasonable cap hits ($2.2M combined next season per during their early service time.

Fond farewell: A fan favorite, Dubinsky -- and his intriguing facial hair -- is on his way to Columbus. Brought to the Rangers in the 2004 draft, Dubinsky teamed with fellow 2004 draftee Ryan Callahan to form the core around which these new-look, built-from-within Rangers were constructed. His grit on the ice became emblematic of the Rangers' character as a team, playing with a combination of sandpaper, skill and desire that won over the Garden faithful and helped return the Rangers to the top of the Eastern Conference. The 2011-12 season marked a bit of a rough stretch for Dubinsky, as he finished with just 34 points in 77 games, a 20-point dip from the previous campaign.

Erixon’s expectations: Based purely on potential, Erixon has the highest ceiling of any of the Rangers heading to Columbus. Regarded as one of the top defensive prospects in hockey because of his solid two-way game, the Rangers acquired the Swedish-born blueliner from the Calgary Flames last June for a pair of second-round draft picks and prospect Roman Horak. With established defenseman Marc Staal on the shelf to start the season, Erixon was pressed into duty a little ahead of schedule, logging an average of 13 minutes over 18 games and recording two points and a minus-2 rating. While the future could be bright for Erixon -- particularly if he forms a top pairing in Columbus with 2012 No. 2 overall pick Ryan Murray -- the Rangers were dealing from a position of strength here. After the trade, the Blueshirts' blue-line corps still includes mainstays Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Michael Del Zotto, with prospect Dylan McIlrath and 2012 first-rounder Brady Skjei waiting in the wings. And that doesn’t even figure in the questionable status of Michael Sauer (concussion).

The irony in Erixon’s inclusion in this trade is that it was widely believed he and his representation, um, facilitated his trade to the Rangers -- where his father, Jan, played -- by refusing to sign with the Flames. It wouldn’t be surprising if somewhere in Calgary they’re discussing the nature of karma right now.

What’s next?: Rumors this morning mentioned that the Rangers were not only chasing Nash, but also veteran free-agent wing Shane Doan. Per a source with knowledge of the team's thinking, Katie Strang reports that the Rangers are still in pursuit of the longtime Phoenix Coyotes forward. As it stands, the Rangers have helped shore up a serious question mark heading into the 2012-13 season and figure to remain firmly entrenched as a contender for the Stanley Cup next June.

W2W4: Sabres vs. Rangers

March, 1, 2011
The Rangers clash with the Buffalo Sabres at the Garden tonight. Here are three keys to watch for when the puck drops.

Point Man

The Rangers power play has been anything but spectacular this season, but it has been improving. The Blueshirts tallied nine goals in 44 chances in February (a little over 20 percent) which is above the rather “meh” season average of 16.6. It stands to improve even more with the addition of Bryan McCabe to man the point. McCabe earned some praise in his debut with the Rangers Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. On the power play, the D-man had three goals and 16 assists with the Panthers before joining the Rangers.

Surprise Scorers

Frequently knocked for their inability to put the puck in the net and without Derek Roy for the remainder of the season, you may be surprised to know the Sabres actually sit 12th in the NHL with 2.80 goals per game (ahead of the Rangers). They are particularly effective at even-strength, where their 1.12 five-on-five goal ratio is the sixth-best in the league, just behind the Detroit Red Wings. The Rangers shouldn’t sleep on the Sabres' scorers.

New Kid on the Block

The new Sabres ownership showed it is ready to spend when they acquired over-priced and underproductive Brad Boyes from the St. Louis Blues Monday. Boyes, who makes $4 million per season, has drastically fallen off his once-torrid goal-scoring pace (76 G between 2007-08 and ’08-’09). Can he get back on track in Buffalo? The Rangers will want to delay that resurrection for at least one night, as they battle to pull seven points ahead of Buffalo in the East standings.

Langenbrunner in limbo (UPDATE)

January, 7, 2011
The notion of a devil in limbo is rather ironic, but that’s precisely where Jamie Langenbrunner finds himself after GM Lou Lamoriello asked the veteran forward, and team captain to waive his no-trade clause. And just like the biblical metaphor would suggest, the awkward in-between seems like a vast improvement from the hell that has been the Devils 2010-11 season.

Langenbrunner, who has previously clashed with interim coach Jacques Lemaire, is expected to waive his clause and a trade appears imminent. For now he remains on the roster, though he did not skate in Thursday night’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Flyers, in fact, are one team that’s placed an offer on the table for the winger with a minus-15 rating and 14 points in 31 games this season. The offer is thought to be picks in the third and fifth round of this season’s draft. Given Philly’s high standing in the Eastern Conference, it’s likely that those picks will fall very near to the end of each round.

ESPN’s Rumor Central reports that the Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues are also interested in acquiring the veteran’s services, and the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti reported on his blog Thursday night that it was thought Lamoriello already had a better offer than the Flyers’ pair of picks.

The true value of any Langenbrunner trade would come in the form of salary cap relief. The forward will make $2.8 million this season and shedding that weight would allow the Devils to add a new ingredient or two to their roster, though with an NHL-worst 22 points this particular season already seems lost.

UPDATE: Though nothing is official, both ESPN's Pierre LeBrun and TSN's Bob McKenzie are reporting that the likely destination for Langenbrunner is Dallas. Nothing done yet though.

W2W4: Devils vs. Capitals

December, 21, 2010
The Devils take on the Washington Capitals Tuesday night in D.C., looking to rebound from the worst loss of a dismal season against another talented team fallen on hard times. Here’s what to watch for when the puck drops in the nation’s capital.

Get It On Goal

As E.J. Hradek pointed out in his Insider blog on Monday, it appeared the Devils were trying to be too fine with their puck placement in last Friday’s loss to the Nashville Predators. Attempting to snipe for the corners, the Devils instead ripped shots wide of goal entirely. That denied the Devs of any opportunity to poke home a rebound or two. Against the Caps, just getting it on goal could pay dividends. Neither Michal Neuvirth nor Semyon Varlamov has looked sharp during the Caps’ recent eight game skid. Until Sunday’s win over the Ottawa Senators, Neuvirth had posted a save percentage better than .900 just once in his previous five games. Get the puck on goal and you never know what can happen.

The First Is The Worst

The Caps have given up the first goal in seven of their last nine games. And while they halted their slide against the Sens on the road, fans at Verizon Center can still recall those recent hardships. If the Devils can get on the board first it will help rekindle those fresh, painful memories for Caps fans and add some pressure. Plus, it’s pretty important for the downtrodden Devils. Not only will it help with the team’s confidence, but the Devs sport just a .111 winning percentage when trailing at the end of the first period.

Familiar Foe

Ilya Kovalchuk may still be earning minus ratings every game, but his scoring is picking up. The Russian is as hot as he’s ever been this season, posting eight points in the last seven games. Perhaps the sight of a familiar opponent will further spur his success? Kovalchuk has faced the Caps 44 times as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers and has been better than a point-per-game player against the Southeast Conference foe (52 points). This season he hasn’t registered a point in either of the Devils’ previous two games against the Caps, which sounds like he’s due for a breakout performance.

Food For Thought

Trade Brodeur??!?!?! I know what you’re first thought will be when your read Scott Burnside’s blog post suggesting the Devils should deal Martin Brodeur, and yes, I find it amusing that fans of the Devils are concerned with heresy. But seriously, aside from Zach Parise and Travis Zajac, both seen as untouchable parts of the Devils’ core for the future, Brodeur probably has the most trade value and the market for goalies is pretty good right now, with possible demand in Tampa Bay and Washington, as Burnside suggests. It seems clear that the Devils are going down in flames this season and require some major moves to make sure they can afford Parise next season. It may be unpalatable, and GM Lou Lamoriello may never even consider it or the goalie may not waive his no-trade clause, but in theory, Brodeur is probably the best bullet in any potential trade arsenal. That begs an interesting question: Would Devils fans prefer another season or two of torment, possibly losing Parise in the process, or see Martin Brodeur close out his career in a different color jersey than Jersey’s?