Upside/Downside: Rick Nash

Today, I introduce a new feature, in which I take a topic and examine both the upside and the downside of the given topic.  As I am extremely clever, I have decided to name this feature “Upside/Downside.”  Today:  Rick Nash

Upside:

Rick Nash, on paper, is the pure goal scoring/power forward threat that the Rangers have needed for a long time.  We all know that Madison Square Garden is the place that goal scorers come to die.  In the history of the franchise, only three players have scored more than 50 goals.  No one’s done it twice.

Let’s be very clear: the Rangers do not need Rick Nash for assists.  He is not here to pass.  He’s here to score.  And I think he’s going to be amped and energized to do it.  I believe that he’s among the most terrifying images to an NHL goalie when he’s skating up the right boards with time to wind up.  If he gets any space, look out.  Thinking broadly, imagine him on a line with Kreider on the right and centered by Step.  Think about that line skating behind Gabby and Hags, centered by Big Time Bradley.  I think I just had an episode here at my desk.  And really, you could play with those 6 in any number of ways.  Nash makes a lot of different things possible.

From a goal scoring number, the upside is tremendous.  Step is a great passer and if Kreider continues to move forward, I could see Nash clearing 40 goals pretty easily in a full season, with 50 realistic..  Given what’s looking like a 48 game schedule, I think 20 is a gimme, 25 a possibility and 30 an outside chance.  Nash is anxious to restore his reputation as one of the league’s top goal scorers and to prove to everyone that he can play in New York, after being in Columbus for a gazillion years.  He’s motivated and he’s coming into a system that will play to his strengths:  big and physical.

Downside:

Jeez, if there’s one downside that I can see, it’s the defensive side.  Nash is a career -71.  That’s absolutely atrocious.  Yes, he’s been playing in Columbus, and -19 of that was last season.  But he’s only been a plus-player 3 times in his 9 seasons, and never more than +5.  If he’s going to succeed in New York and stay out of Torts’ doghouse, he’s going to have to commit defensively.  Nash isn’t going to win a Selke any time soon, but I have to think he’ll make an effort to put it together.  If he’s anything near a -5 this year, I think we have to consider this a win.

When discussing downsied, we have to at least touch on what the Rangers gave up in order to bring him here.  The trade was worth it, in my opinion, but there were a lot of pieces.  The big one was Dubi, of course.  He was a fan favorite, a hard worker, but he seemed to have leveled off a bit.  If his upside was “solid 3rd liner and 20 goals a season,” he was expendable.  To me, the biggest loss was Artie.  There’s no guarantee he would have ever done this, but he seems like he could have grown into a poor man’s Rick Nash.  Not as many goals, and probably not as physical, but he has the size and he has the skill.  Finally, Timmy Erixon.  That guy is going to be a hell of a D-man, but if there’s one things the Rangers have no shortage of, it’s D-men, and Exison got the deal done.

All in, I think the upside far outweighs the downside here.  If things fall out right, we’re looking a really nice debut campaign for Nash, who I will be calling Nasher from now on.

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