THREE REASONS WHY THE RICK NASH DEAL IS ONE OF THE BEST IN RANGERS HISTORY
1. CLASS LINEMATES: Since he became a Blue Jacket in 2002, Nash has been saddled with mediocre sidemen. Yet he still managed a 40 and 41-goal season. Imagine how much better he'll perform with the likes of Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan as teammates. Coming to New York for Rick is like the guy who kept hitting himself in the head with a large, wooden mallet. When a pal asked him why he's doing it, the chap replied, "Because it feels so great when I stop!" Ergo: No more mallets to Nash's head. Or, as reader Michael Leboff writes me, "Richards and Nash is a combo to write home about. The Rangers are built to win now and for a long time."
2. GOALTENDING: Columbus was saddled with some of the NHL's worst rubber-stoppers. That, in turn, braked Rick who had to worry as much about backchecking -- to protect Steve (The Sieve) Mason -- as he did about scoring. With the likes of Vezina Trophy-winner Henrik (Call Me Henny) Lundqvist and Marty (As In Brodeur) Biron between the pipes, Nash will have an extra scoring gear he never could use as a Blue Jacket. It's an underrated but important element,.
3. SWAP-HAPPY HOWSON: Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson dealt out of panic when panic was unnecessary. He could have retained Nash -- who, if anything, is a professional -- into 2012-2013. Columbus fans would have understood that rather than the lopsided move made that so favors New York. By mid-season, a contender such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston or even Los Angeles would have been crying for a sharpshooting left wing and Howson's chances for a better return for Nash would have been a lot better than it was this month.,
One club owner told me that Brandon Dubinsky was worth only a second or third-round Draft pick. Artem Anisimov shows up but the trouble is you never know when. Tim Erixon was beaten out by Stu Bickel and was not likely to make Torts varsity. Under pressure to deliver and make the deal look good in Columbus, Erixon still is only 50-50 to stay in the NHL. Ergo: Glen Sather unloaded the unwanted from his Used Parts Lot for a pure diamond.
TWO REASONS WHY THE BLUE JACKETS FANS HAVE TO WONDER ABOUT MANAGEMENT
1. DRAFT PICKS: In its dubious dozen-year NHL history, Columbus has enjoyed only one outstanding Entry Draft ace -- Nash. The year after they reached for Rick, the Blue Jackets snared -- they should have forgotten -- Nik Zherdev, fourth overall. As a stiff, he was right up there. Next was Alex Picard, their first pick -- eighth overall -- in 2004. What a non-ace he's turned out to be. After that in 2005, it was Gilbert Brule, sixth overall in 2006. Already, Brule is passe. Non-stars who followed include Jakub Voracek and Nikita Filatov. By now you get the point. Before and after Nash this franchise got caught in the Draft, resulting in selection hypothermia.
2. SELLING THE DEAL TO FANS: Not that I'm a marketing Maven but I have to wonder how in the world Columbus tub-thumpers are going to sell this deal to their faithful. Dubie is the main man but can he be put on the Blue Jackets marquee? Not after the past season, my fine feathered friends. You would have thought that somehow Howson would have squeezed Michael Del Zotto from the Blueshirts. As Rangers fan Brian McCormack wrote me: "The fact that Glen Sather pulled this off without losing Del Zotto is absolutely stunning. And the fact that Howson wouldn't hold Nash into next season to wait for a desperate g.m. shocks me."
OH, SHEA CAN YOU SEE
Nice job, David Poile. The Predators G.M. made good on ownership's vow to retain as many of Nashville's core stars as possible. The Preds will survive without Ryan Suter but not without Shea Weber. Give Philly credit for its attempt to nab Weber but the Preds would have none of that because management felt the fans pulse.
Bottom Line: Nashville still has the defenseman with the best chance to win the Norris Trophy next season.
BRODEUR A BLACKHAWK?
When it appeared that Brodeur would become an unrestricted free agent, several teams were interested but none more than Chicago. Stuck with Corey Crawford and Ray Emery between the pipes, the Blackhawks high command knew that the aforementioned tandem wouldn't get them past the first playoff round. Thus, GM Stan Bowman made a pitch for Marty. "When you have a guy like Brodeur out there," Scotty Bowman's son-protégé allows, "you have to at least visit that situation."
He did and Marty said, "Thanks but no thanks" and signed up at his old homestead in Newark. At least give Bowman points for trying. (You would too if you were stuck with Crawford-Emery.)
FREE AGENT DERBY
Here's how I rate the next signings in chronological order: 1. Alex Semin; 2. Shane Doan; 3. Carlo Colaiacovo; 4. Dom Moore; 5. Mike Knuble; 6. Jason Arnott; 7. Brett Clark; 8. Tom Kostopoulos; 9. jason Blake; 10. Brian Rolston.
I'll leave you with this: Semin as a Devil alongside Ilya Kovalchuk is an intriguing possibility.
There's only one problem; my name is not Lou Lamoriello!