Yeah, I said it.
Rick Nash is not a power forward.
I read recently that Nash was Columbus' franchise player "by default" and it's hard to argue that point. The 2002 draft, though it produced Nash, Alex Semin, Cam Ward, Duncan Keith, and Joffrey Lupul (underrated and criminally treated by Randy Carlyle in 2010-11) wasn't a great one... the title of "franchise player" was probably unfairly thrust upon him, especially since Columbus has had a horrible time drafting and developing players (why was Ryan Johansen in the NHL last year? Also, to whomever was touting St. Croix being in the NHL next season... see Johansen, and Nino Niederreiter for why even top-5 first rounders-- let alone a ****ing 4th rounder -- might not be ready for the NHL one year removed from the draft. And that's just from last season) That said, I don't think Nash is a top-30 player, but I do think he is a top-20 winger. So, score one for the Rangers. Now that he is a Ranger, I think he is the third best forward behind Marian Gaborik (#1) and Brad Richards (#2). I don't believe -- and sincerely don't hope -- that the Rangers will need him to carry the team as he was expected to in Columbus. Since only my eyes can see the truth, I searched high and low (read: Youtube) for recent games that featured Rick Nash, so I could try to make as fair an assessment as I could about what he will bring to the table as a Ranger. I found three games (thus far), the 2010 Olympic Final, Washington vs. Columbus (12-31-2011), and Columbus vs. Chicago (01-10-2012). Nash was invisible in both the Olympic Final and Chicago game. Obviously a ridiculously small sample size, but I've never seen Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, and rarely even Phil Kessel (call him a p***y if you want, the guy is good) be invisible.
Jeff Carter and Vinny Prospal were the best forwards the Washington game, but as there was no love lost for Carter at that point, the Columbus broadcast team only recognized Prospal (shameful). Nash had a handful of shifts were he tried to generate offense, and tallied one assist on a John Moore goal (on a turnover created by Carter, for which he received no credit from the Columbus broadcasters). What stuck out was where Nash played. On the power play, where he should be using his large frame as a net-front presence, he instead is, again, on the halfboards far from the crease. Nash was blatantly ineffective there. In the final minutes of the game, when Steve Mason leaves the crease for an extra attacker, you would expect the team power forward to be one of the attackers at the net. You would be wrong, as Nash was at the right point. Being -- again -- ineffective.
Rick Nash has great speed. Rick Nash has great hands. Rick Nash is a north-south player. Rick Nash can fight off checks. Rick Nash was not quick. RIck Nash does not have a great mid- to long-range shot, a la Gaborik or Phil Kessel. Rick Nash did not command the puck, as does Crosby, Malkin, or Giroux. Rick Nash did not get his shot off from anywhere, as can Alexander Semin or Ilya Kovalchuk. Rick Nash starts too far away from the crease, so that he has to fight off so many checks that eventually the puck gets knocked away. The way Rick Nash has played the game, at least for the last year, is not how a power forward plays the game.
And for all you Richards-Nash advocates, this guy seems to agree with me
No. 4 = Wonder which line Nash will play on with the Rangers? Most expect him to step in with Brad Richards, a playmaker extraordinaire. My hunch is he’ll fit best with Derek Stepan, but – as a guy who sees the Western Conference almost exclusively – I’m not entirely keyed in on Stepan’s game. Nash needs the puck to be successful. He doesn’t find space in the offensive zone and rip one-timers; he hauls it to net. This will be interesting.
Rick Nash may have been a power forward under Ken Hitchcock. He is not a power forward right now. I am currently watching the Detroit vs. Rangers (03-12-2012) game, and Tomas Holmstrom, on a face-off, drives directly to the net. He doesn't look at anyone but Lundqvist. He does this a number of times. (Random parentheticals: watch this game, and tell me Zuccarello doesn't belong in the NHL; watch this game, and tell me why there needs be enforcers in the NHL.) Rich Nash, for some unknown reason, stays outside the top of the right wing circle. If you watch Rangers games closely, people accuse Gaborik as being a "floater." If setting up in front of the goal crease where you can quickly get a shot off so you nets 40 goals gets you the "floater" label, I'll take that. I've read that since Hitchcock was removed as coach from the Blue Jackets, no coach challenged (read: commanded) Nash to play the game in a manner which would make him a more effective player. Rick Nash did not make his teammates better, and has not carry a team. Nash's pedigree has apparently allowed him the luxury of dictating how he plays. I fully expect this to change under John Tortorella. Say what you want about Tortorella (and I am as quick with praise as I am with criticism with that dude) but he gets the most out of certain players. I believe he can do that with Nash. That means: being the net presence on the power play; not *actually* floating outside the high traffic areas in the offensive zone. As we all know, Tortorella preaches protecting "home plate" in the defensive zone. In the offensive zone, this is where Nash needs to play. Take the shots in the back and all the wear and tear that goes along with it. Crosby does it... so can Nash.
By the by... neither is Bobby Ryan a power forward. Just because a guy is 6'3" and 190+ lbs, that doesn't make him a power forward. I also read somewhere today that Chris Kreider is a power forward.... seriously? James Neal? Sure. Watch him, Jarome Iginla, Jamie Benn, or Shane Doan play. Then tell me if Rick Nash compares as a "power forwards".
Rick Nash is not a power forward. But he can be.
Anyways, I doubt that anyone will read this, what with the new SB layout and issues with the site displaying new comments. Still... let me hear your opinions, and please, if you can, watch the games I described above. Three games is obviously a small sample size, but I'm limiting my commentary on what can be observed by everyone. It's difficult to have a conversation based on conjecture ("he's big, he's a power forward," "I didn't see those games, but I saw one in 2008 and Rick Nash is a power forward," or "the guys on TSN said he's a power forward, so it must be true!") If there are more games out there for our viewing pleasure, you don't have to post the link (I'm not sure if there are rules against that on SB) just the game date, opponent, and website on which you found the game. We're all savvy enough to find it. Except maybe Ricky94. I hear his mind's all addled and whatnot,
- The Hogg
*** Thoughts on the Detroit/Rangers game ***
- Great game. Great ****ing game.
- Brad Richards? Yup.
- Mats Zuccarello, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle, and Mike Rupp (when he was on the ice) all played really well. Great overall team effort this game. I think it's unrealistic to think that the Rangers will play as well this upcoming season as they did last season. That was a "system" team, and they were a well-oiled machine. You switch out half the forward corps to start the season, there are going to be more than a few bumps in the road.
- Stu Bickel played really well. Why didn't he do this in the playoffs?