Not that long ago, teams had Jagr, Gomez, and Drury to consider as scoring threats when deciding what lines that had to put out there, and who needed extra coverage.
Then Jagr left, Gomez got traded, and Drury's health declined, along with GP and overall production. A revolving cast of forwards who had a tendency to get hot streaks like Higgins, Kotalik, Olli "Mun-chi-chi" Jokinen, Antropov, Naslund, and everyone's favorite miscreant, Nikolai Zherdev, came and went - none of which drew the ire or fear from the opposing defensive opposition. Continued after "The Jump"
From 2007 to 2009 the Rangers went from 16th in the league in goals scored to 25th, when a beacon of hope arrived in the form of Marian Gaborik (and the burying of derided defensman Wade Redden's contract.) The Rangers finally had an elite scorer that could not only add offense, but draw defense away from other players to open things up. By this time, Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky were developing their offense, but needed the space to finish, and Vinny Prospal, a man capable of celebration comparable only to the gods in Valhalla on a coke binge, was dangerous, but limited due to knee issues.
That season, the Rangers jumped back up to 19th in the league in goals scored, in my opinion, due to the 42 goals Gaborik produced, but also because he opened things up for everyone else.
The next year we add Richards, and we're at 13th in goals scored in the league. I understand this is a generalized view of our recent history, and the Renney to Tortorella transition certainly explains our more aggressive style of play leading to improved stats. My point is, the more top 6 scoring threats we have out there, the more psychological edge we gain and the more open the ice is for everyone else. Teams did not fear Dubinsky or Anisimov, as much as I like and respect them as players. They fear Nash, but more importantly, they don't just have Nash to worry about anymore. Now they have Nash, Gaborik, Richards, Callahan, Krieder and Hagelin to worry about. I don't see how Nash's production DOESN'T go up.
One last statistic that doesn't get much attention, but should given the importance of consistency when it comes to offense:
Except for 2005, Rick Nash played more than 70 games every season since 2002 (He scored 31 goals in 54 games!)
I'll miss Arty, and to a lesser extent Duby (I did love his Crosby rants to the media), but our offense is officially scary.