COLUMBUS, Ohio The New York Rangers have a new star forward.
The Blue Jackets finally met captain Rick Nash's midseason request and dealt him on Monday along with a third-round pick and a minor league defenseman to the Rangers for centers Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, defenseman Tim Erixon and a first-round pick next year.
The deal gives the Rangers a big, sturdy right wing to add to their core of solid young players and also helps them counter moves made by other Eastern Conference powers this offseason. Nash will join a New York offense that includes captain Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.
The Rangers were the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season and just missed out on the Presidents' Trophy for most regular-season points. New York defeated Ottawa and Washington in the playoffs before losing to New Jersey in the conference finals in six games. Nash immediately improves their credentials and gets themon paper, at leastcloser to their first Stanley Cup since 1994.
The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, ended months of speculation about what they would do after Nash went to management in January and asked to be traded. He later said, in a curious bit of logic, that one of his main goals was making the Blue Jackets stronger.
"The biggest thing is that when management said when they were going to make a rebuild and a reshape, I thought the best thing for the team and the organization would be to get assets for me," he said. "And I thought it would be best for my career."
The move to New York and a perennial playoff team should be a boon to his career, although it will require a major alteration in his lifestyle. Quiet and almost shy, Nash enjoyed playing golf at nice courses and walking around Columbus virtually unnoticed. That will end when he takes his act to the Big Apple.
Nash is in the third year of an eight-year contract he signed in 2010 which has an average annual value of 7.8 million. The total salary cap hit of Dubinsky, Anisimov and Erixon is almost exactly the same.
Nash, the oldest player in the deal at 28, is one of the most decorated players in the league. He is a five-time All-Star who helped his native Canada win the Olympic gold medal in the 2010 Olympics. He also has played in four World Championships, leading Canada to gold in 2007 and silver in 2005 and 2008. Plus, he shared the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2004, scoring 41 goals to lead the league along with Ilya Kovalchuk, then of Atlanta, and Calgary's Jarome Iginla.
He is coming off a season in which he had 30 goals and 29 assists while playing in all 82 games. He has 289 goals and 258 assists in 674 career NHL games, all with the Blue Jackets. His offensive skill set will be welcomed by a New York team that struggled for offense during the postseason. With one of the NHL's top goaltenders, Henrik Lunqvist, playing in front of a deep, young defense, many people believed the Rangers were just one scorer away from a title last season. Offense was clearly a problem in the six-game loss to the rival Devils, as the Rangers did not score more than three goals in any of those contests.
Columbus general manager Scott Howson spoke with the other 29 teams in the NHL about Nash in the days leading up to the trade deadline, but had talked seriously with just a few clubsincluding the reported six or so that Nash would waive his no-trade clause to join.
With the worst record in the NHL last season, the Blue Jackets needed an influx of talent. They believe they made a key step at the trade deadline when they sent forward Jeff Carter to the Los Angeles Kingswho would go on to win the Stanley Cup with Carter playing a key rolefor young defenseman Jack Johnson and a first-round pick.
Johnson, who captained the United States squad in the 2010 Olympics, will likely take over that role in Columbus.
They also traded for another young forward, Nick Foligno, in a one-for-one deal with the Ottawa Senators earlier this summer.
Dubinsky, 26, had 10 goals and 24 assists in 77 games a year ago with the Rangers, while the 24-year-old Anisimov had 16 goals and 20 assists in 79 games. Erixon, a former first-round pick of the Calgary Flames in 2009, only played in 18 games for the Rangers last year.
The loss of Nash will hurt a Columbus offense which already was starved for goals. But Dubinsky and Anisimov will likely get time on the top two lines along with Foligno, Vinny Prospal, Derick Brassard, R.J. Umberger and youngsters Ryan Johansen and Cam Atkinson.
The Blue Jackets, who have only been to the postseason once in their 11 seasons, have three first-round picks in the 2013 draft.