If you’re eager to see the Rangers sell at the deadline and commit to a rebuild, you have likely read as many of the Rick Nash rumors as you can get your eyes on. The veteran winger is arguably the most coveted player who’s known to be on the trading block. The Toronto Maple Leafs, the Nashville Predators, the Dallas Stars, and others are all interested in acquiring the man who has played in New York for half a dozen years.
Nash’s name is currently at the top of TSN’s Trade Bait List. It’s no longer a question of “if” he gets traded; it’s now a question of when and just how much the Rangers can get for him. The good news for Jeff Gorton and New York’s front office is that Nash has been his own best advertiser in the last two months.
Since the beginning of the New Year only 17 players have scored more goals than Nash. Perhaps even more importantly, only four players — Evgeni Malkin, Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, and Patrice Bergeron — have scored more goals during 5-on-5 hockey. In the last 22 games Nash has lit the lamp nine times; eight times during 5-on-5 play. After Monday night’s defeat Nash was leading all forwards in 5-on-5 shots on goal since January 1. And he’s done that while playing on a team that has been crushed in possession and spoiled by injuries.
It’s no secret that before this recent turn of events Nash hasn’t had the best of luck when it came to putting pucks in the net. The proof of the big winger’s hard luck is still evident in his 9.5 shooting percentage (all strengths) and the eight posts he’s hit this year. There is a very good chance that someone, somewhere had a curse placed on him.
Nash had nine goals in the first three months of the season; five of those were scored in November. Since January 1 he has scored nine more goals, including five in January alone. Nash is scoring goals in bunches again; he’s playing like a forward who can take over a game.
Even without this recent outburst of offense Nash would still be a desirable asset at the deadline for Cup contenders. There is no one else on the market that brings his experience, size, speed, two-way play, and skill set. The fact that pucks are finally starting to go for him simply adds to Nash’s value. And that is very good news for the Rangers.
Nash is doing his part to provoke interest with the deadline rapidly approaching. Now it’s up to Gorton to maximize the return he can get on the alternate captain.
Data courtesy of naturalstattrick.com, NHL.com