Monday saw one of the NHL’s most anticipated trades finally come to a conclusion with Rick Nash finally getting his wish and leaving the dump of a franchise that is the Columbus Blue Jackets for the bright lights of New York City and the Rangers. Nash, along with defenseman Steve Delisle and a conditional third-round selection in the 2013 Entry Draft (which goes back to Columbus if New York makes the cup final) were sent to New York in exchange for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and a first-round selection in the 2013 Draft.
This trade led me, like most hockey fans with any sort of logic to think, “That’s all they got?!” It appears one person who has lost their sense of logic is Columbus general manager Scott Howson.
“This deal doesn’t get done until we get the right value. And today is the day that we got the right value” Howson stated at his press conference after the trade. Whatever his explanation, this trade further sends Columbus into NHL irrelevance.
Along with prize free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, and an anticipated Roberto Luongo trade, Nash was the major domino on the NHL market heading into this summer. Howson had backed off from proposed deals at the NHL trade deadline last season as well as the Draft in June to allow the market to generate more value for Nash. However, judging by what Columbus received in return for Nash this move backfired and Howson ended up settling for a similar deal that the Rangers offered previously instead of adding more pieces to the deal by holding out until now. According to Darren Dreger of TSN who broke news of the trade, these components were available previously.
The reason for this trade ending in turmoil for the Blue Jackets was previous suitors in the Nash sweepstakes had cooled off with their interest. With the trading partners withered away, talks between Columbus and New York began to pick up again.
Philadelphia was rumoured to be interested in Nash but they were probably put off by the asking price and recently turned their attention to an offer sheet for Shea Weber, which Nashville matched, likely pricing the Flyers out of any potential move. San Jose withdrew from contention after refusing to include Logan Couture in any trade, and Howson refused to consider sending Nash to division rivals Detroit. All paired with Nash’s no trade clause allowing him to veto any trade to a city he didn’t want to go to forced Howson into the position to resume talks with Rangers’ general manager Glen Sather – with any leverage now lost.
Our friend Twitter provided us with some lovely reactions to the trade.
The Blue Jackets initially wanted a top prospect from the Rangers in either Michael Del Zotto, Chris Kreider, or Derek Stepan. New York was reluctant to include these players in previous trade discussions, and by looking at the final deal and the absence of these names you can guess the market for Nash had gone south.
Howson claims this deal is about the present for Columbus and believes this trade can help them win now….really?
Sure, he was in a tough position in dealing Nash, an all-star who has had two 40 goal seasons, but none of the players he received back from New York are going to come close to filling the offensive void left by Nash’s departure. Brandon Dubinsky is coming off a disappointing 34 point season and lacks the size of Nash to be a real power forward. The Russian Anisimov tallied 36 points and had a decent 16 goal output last season but had a dismal playoff with only three goals in 20 games.
A bright spot for Columbus in the deal is Erixon, a top Swedish defensive prospect. Initially drafted by the Flames, Erixon ultimately didn’t sign with them apparently due to his refusal to play for their AHL team in Abbotsford.
If you thought your Monday was bad, Erixon’s wasn’t too bright either after being sent off to Columbus – a far more dismal situation than Calgary.
I’m sure Columbus is a decent place but it’s a college football town with the Ohio State Buckeyes grabbing front page headlines – not the Blue Jackets. With the face of the franchise traded away and the team already suffering from low attendance, next season is starting to look bleak in Central Ohio.