COLUMBUS OH - OCTOBER 20: Rick Nash #61 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is congradulated by teammates after a third period empty net goal against the Anaheim Ducks on October 20 2010 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
One of the biggest benefits of writing for SB Nation is the fantastic hockey network we have. Especially after big moves and trades, it's even better when you can have access to other people who happen to be experts on the other teams in the NHL.
That's why myself and the gang from Jackets Cannon answered some questions for one another. It's going to be a two-part series, so this is part one for us. At 1 p.m. today, Jackets Cannon will post up the first part of my answers to their questions. We're still structuring part two.
Below the jump are the questions and the answers, and below each answer (in italics) is my response to the answer. I'll give you all a reminder when my answers go up, but for now check out what the guys did for us and make sure to check them out for anything you need to know about the Blue Jackets.
Join me after the jump for more.
Do you buy that Nash's production dipped because of a lack of a supporting cast around him?
1) I think you need to look at Nash's career thus far as two distinct segments- pre-Hitchcock, and post-Hitchcock. Prior to Hitch getting his hands on him, Nash was a one-dimensional offensive weapon. He led the league in goals in his sophomore season, but was a combined -62 in his first two seasons. When Hitch took over as Blue Jackets coach, he worked with Nash to round out his game. His defensive zone play improved, he wasn't hanging out at the opposition blueline, and he was killing penalties. Hitch made him a complete player. The result, however, was reduced offensive production. Since the lockout, the Jackets have added more and more skilled players to their lineup, yet Nash's numbers dipped. The reason is not the supporting cast, it was simply that he didn't have to shoulder a majority of the offensive load anymore. That said, it can be argued that Nash hasn't had a center who was pass-first playing with him consistently since Andrew Cassels was still in the league. With a playmaking center like Brad Richards, combined with his well-rounded play should see him back around the 35-40 goal area.
Nice to see the "complete player" tag applied to Nash. I think the general expectations are for Nash to be in the 30-40 goal range. I think he's going to really enjoy playing alongside Richards.
What are some of Nash's best qualities? Can you see him carrying the offensive load while Marian Gaborik is out?
2) Nash's best qualities are his ability to shield the puck and make things happen near the net. He is very difficult to knock off the puck, and for a guy his size he's a very fast skater. He's used to shouldering a majority of the offensive load for a team, but even with Gaborik out there is enough skill on the Rangers that Nash doesn't need to be that guy. He and Richards alone should be a lethal combination, and Gaborik returning would only help to offset their production.
This is a point we've debated before, but even without Gaborik, guys like Ryan Callahan, Richards, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Carl Hagelin and Michael Del Zotto all bring the offense. I agree Nash wouldn't be the only guy who has to put the puck into the net, he just happens to be the best at it of that group right now.
Can you tell us a little more about the prospect the Rangers received in the deal?
3) The defenseman the Rangers received in the Nash deal from Columbus is Steve Delisle. This move was to give Columbus flexibility under the 50 contract limit. Delisle spent most of the season in the ECHL last year, with a cup of coffee in the AHL. The year previous he was injured for most of the season, getting into a couple of Central League games. He's a graduate of the QMJHL, and is a defensive defenseman. Without knowing the defensive situation in Connecticut, I'd say he's ticketed for the ECHL again in your system. He's a low-level prospect.
From everyone I've spoken to, he is pegged for the ECHL.
Can we please find a way to sync up Artem Anisimov's gun celebration with the cannon you guys shoot off after every goal?
4) I can't think of a goal celebration that made me laugh as much as Artie's celebration that I saw on 24/7. His explanation to his teammates as they walked into the dressing room was pure gold. If he could aim his weapon away from the goalie, perhaps aiming at an empty part of the ice after a goal, I'm sure he could time it perfectly to go off when the cannon fires. We don't want any unsportsmanlike penalities after all!
Part two will come up in the coming days. There, we go into more detail about Nash, how he'll handles the pressure in New York and more.