After months of anticipation, a Rick Nash trade was finally completed by Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson. What was shaping up to be another standard Monday turned into a guessing frenzy as parts of the deal began to form on social media outlets. As is common on Twitter, frustration mounted as parts of the were shared over the course of the next half hour, thanks mostly to Darren Dreger of TSN (and his inability to convince his Blackberry to type ‘4’ instead of ‘s’). While the trade did not generate the ‘crazy high return’ everyone seemed to be expecting, the results of the trade were very much fair market value for Nash. It provided Columbus with the necessary pieces to continue the reshape of the team throughout the roster, along with a highly touted prospect.
The deal was as follows:
To Columbus: Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon, Artem Anisimov, and a 1st round pick (2013)
To New York: Rick Nash, Steven Delisle, and a conditional 3rd round pick (2013)
Dubinsky is a quality top six forward who has scored 20+ goals and has added 30+ assists in his best year. He plays with an edge and can factor both on the scoresheet, and in the energy/physical aspects of the game. I have read a number of comparisons between Dubinsky and the style of hockey RJ Umberger plays. His career notables include Portland during his junior career not unlike Ryan Johansen, and has exposure to Jack Johnson, Nick Foligno, and coach Todd Richards through the USA international program.
Anisimov is more likely a top nine option with relatively even output as a scorer and a passer. He is the type of player that can be called upon in just about any situation. His moment in the spotlight was dropping to a knee and ‘shooting’ the Lightning goaltender after scoring during 24/7. Flashy celebrations aside, there seems to be quite a bit of optimism surrounding the young Russian center.
Erixon was a surprising addition to me. While he falls below McDonagh and Del Zotto on the depth chart, he is an emerging prospect with excellent defensive skills. He has strong two way playing ability and solid hockey sense. He is yet another quality addition to the already booming Columbus defensive prospect group. Erixon focuses on his passing more then his shooting when in possession of the puck, posting three goals and thirty assists with Hartford of the AHL last year.
The first round pick will probably be one of the final picks of the round, but this equates to the third first round pick for Columbus in a draft many are suggesting will be quite deep. This gives the Blue Jackets lots of flexibility in their continued efforts to build the farm, or allows them to package the picks for a higher pick, or a roster player.
The return for New York, beyond Nash, is inconsequential. A conditional third given if New York does not make it to the Cup finals, and Steven Delisle, arguably a career ECHL defenseman who was taking up the 50th roster spot. As for the pick, I consider it payment for Columbus moving up in the first round should the Rangers lose earlier than the finals. The cost for moving closer to the start of the first round would probably be similar if a team opted to trade multiple picks during the draft.
My thoughts on the team moving forward are very positive. The Blue Jackets have removed themselves from an enormous shadow of an individual who could not take them where the fan base and the organization so badly want to go. They have replaced that shadow with more players who will fight for playing time and become a part of a new identity, a new look, and a new attitude towards winning. The vacancy at captain will also be a welcome change, with a number of current Blue Jackets players being fine options. In many ways, this trade will allow the Blue Jackets to be a core, rather than ‘the house that he built.’
When I hear discussions about Columbus not being able to form an identity, there seemed to be one very logical step: remove those who are limiting that identity, and replace them with players who can create it as a team. I believe Scott Howson, Craig Patrick, and the entire Blue Jackets organization have orchestrated such a change, and I believe in what they are working towards. The team overhaul is probably not complete, but the number of new faces and quality attitudes should leave even the most pessimistic fan pondering an optimistic thought or two.
Carry the Flag!