On Monday July 23, the New York Rangers acquired Rick Nash, prospect Steven Delisle, and a conditional 2013 third-round draft pick from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon and a 2013 first-round pick.
For the New York Rangers, this deal was about adding another big scorer to give them an edge in the ultra competitive Atlantic Division. On the other hand, Columbus was simply trying to make the best of a bad situation as Nash wanted to be traded.
This deal heavily favors the New York Rangers, but let’s dwell a little deeper and see what all this means from a fantasy perspective…
Rick Nash – What his loss means to Columbus: By far their biggest offensive weapon is gone. His absence will hurt Vaclav Prospal and diminish the chances of Derick Brassard having a breakout season. Columbus wasn’t exactly a gifted team offensively before the trade and they certainly look worse off now.
They can't sink much lower than their 29-46-7 record from 2011-12, but their odds of turning things around in 2012-13 has taken a hit. That makes goaltenders Steve Mason and Sergei Bobrovsky even less desirable. They were already significant gambles given their shaky histories and anyone in a standard league should try to avoid them entirely given that they won't even provide owners with much in the wins department.
What his addition means to the New York Rangers: The idea that Rick Nash, Brad Richards, and Marian Gaborik might play on the same line – or at least the same power-play unit – is simply scary. Even if we assume that the Rangers will want to spread the wealth, all three should benefit from this trade. Nash will get more support with the Rangers than he ever got in Columbus. A 40-goal, 80-point season is certainly not out of the question.
It's worth noting that Gaborik might miss the start of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery this summer, so the combinations that they go with during training camp probably won't be a good indication of what their lines will look like for the bulk of the 2012-13 campaign.
Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov – What their loss means to the New York Rangers: The Rangers won’t miss their offensive contributions after acquiring Nash, but they obviously sacrificed a little depth for the sake of star power. It seems increasingly likely that rookie Chris Kreider will not only make the team, but also serve as one of their top-six forwards.
Kreider hasn’t played in a regular season NHL game, but he did get five goals and seven points in 18 playoff contests. Along with Nash, Kreider should be the biggest winner of this deal from the New York Rangers side. If the Rangers opt to spread out their three superstars over two lines, then Kreider should be handed a golden opportunity.
What their addition means to Columbus: This is a tough trade for the Blue Jackets, but it might not be so bad for Dubinsky and Anisimov. Neither of them will have a superstar to work off of, but they should get a lot more playing time. Dubinsky logged just 1:46 minutes per game with the man advantage in New York last season, but he might end up on Columbus’ first power-play unit. That should help him bounce back from his disappointing 2011-12 campaign. Artem Anisimov might also end up getting top-six minutes, although he’s not as safe a bet as Dubinsky.
Tim Erixon – What his loss means to the New York Rangers: With the rise of Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto rebounding after his disappointing sophomore campaign, Tim Erixon didn’t look like a good bet to make the New York Rangers’ opening game roster. They’re losing a defenseman that has a good amount of potential, but he wouldn’t have had an impact on their 2012-13 squad.
What his addition means to the Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets have five defensemen signed to one-way contracts and the most affordable of them comes with a $2,150,000 annual cap hit. With so many spots already claimed, Erixon will compete primarily with John Moore, David Savard, and Ryan Murray, for one or two roster spots spots. Of those, Murray and Moore should be regarded as the early favorites due to Murray's upside and Moore's 69 games worth of NHL experience.
Erixon is worth holding onto in keeper leagues becuase he could develop into a good offensive defenseman. However, even if he makes Columbus' opening game roster, he’ll be playing for an offensively-challenged squad that already has a handful of veteran blueliners that will lead their power play. In other words, don’t expect big things from Erixon in 2012-13.
What the first-round draft pick means for Columbus: In addition to their own pick, the Blue Jackets also control the Rangers and Los Angeles Kings 2013 first-rounders. Going into the season, those Kings and Rangers picks are projected to be between 20-30th overall. However, after their 2011-12 campaign and this trade, Columbus looks like a candidate to wind up with the first overall pick.
There's lots of time before the 2013 NHL Entry Draft obviously, but an early contender to go first overall is forward Nathan MacKinnon. He's an exciting prospect that has drawn some comparisons to Sidney Crosby.