BUFFALO – Rick Nash has been a longtime good buddy of Jumbo Joe Thornton, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that was one of the first texts that the new Bruins power forward received this morning upon learning he’d been traded to Boston.
“He’d always said it was a great place to play,” said Nash. “I actually got a text from him this morning, so that’s pretty cool.”
The 33-year-old Nash will learn firsthand what it’s like to play for the Boston Bruins after getting dealt to the Black and Gold on Sunday morning from the Rangers in exchange for a bundle of assets amounting to a 2018 first round pick, NCAA defenseman prospect Ryan Lindgren, Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey and a 2019 seventh round pick. Nash is in the lineup for the Bruins against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday afternoon at the First Niagara Center, and he’ll be playing exactly where the Bruins envisioned on David Krejci’s right wing.
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The deal will give the Bruins the size, heaviness and power that they’ve been looking to add on their wing this season, and gives Krejci the exact kind of player that he’s had success with in the past a la Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and Jarome Iginla.
“The team has had such a great year that you don’t want to come in here and ruffle any feathers. You just want to fit in and help out wherever you can,” said Nash. “It was a strange last few weeks in New York, but I’ve moved on and I’m excited for this opportunity. I’m really excited to be here. I wanted to go to a place that wanted me, and that had a great chance to win. I think Boston fits both of those perfectly.
“I just want to bring my style of hockey, and be a big power forward that can hopefully bring some offense, be responsible defensively and be a complete player. It’ll be fun to see what happens. They’re such a good team and they have so many good players that you just want to see where you fit in.
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The hope for the Bruins, obviously, is that the chance at a Stanley Cup can light a fire under the 33-year-old Nash, who has posted 18 goals and 28 points in 60 games for the Rangers this season after failing to crack 40 points in each of the last two seasons. Clearly the big-bodied Nash is on the back nine of an All-Star NHL career, but the Bruins see a 6-foot-4, 215-pound dynamic winger that can still score, hit and play the power game around the net that’s needed when things get nasty in the postseason.
“He’s very dynamic. He’s hard to stop and contain one-on-one. He’s got good speed and can protect the puck well, and get so the net with good hands around the net,” said Bruce Cassidy. “It’s all those things are far as attacking the scoring area. He’s a good penalty killer and responsible defensive player. He’s a good fit and he’s going to right in with [David] Krejci on the right wing with Jake DeBrusk on the left.
“We’re not huge in that area. In our top-9 it will give us a different look and I think it will help us a lot. No disrespect to Ryan Spooner, who went into it with a different skill set. We didn’t expect him to grow five inches earlier this year, so this certainly helps us in those closer, harder games. We’ll see where it leads us.”
In his last three playoff runs with the Rangers, Nash has 10 goals and 23 points in 39 games, which is much better playoff production than the impact winger had earlier in his NHL career. And that is what the Bruins spent all of those assets for on Sunday morning with a chance for Nash to bring something to the B’s as they have big plans for this spring.