The New York Rangers continued selling Sunday morning by trading Rick Nash to the Boston Bruins. Trade details are listed here. With this many pieces, impacts can become more uncertain.
What This Means For The Boston Bruins
Boston rids themselves of the bad Matt Beleskey contract (though they have to retain half). Salary retention more or less washes out in this transaction. The Bruins trade Ryan Spooner, who has shown as much promise as frustration. Trading a first round pick stings a little but that will depend on how far Boston advances in the playoffs.
The centerpiece of the deal is Rick Nash. What has Nash become and what can he be?
Rick Nash at almost 34
Alas, Nash’s possession metrics had risen to nice relatives among the Rangers (about +5%). Considering how abysmal New York was with the puck, those are good numbers. Furthermore, the forward inhabited the front of the crease on the power play setting up other players for chances. He still can effectively screen goalies.
Shot generation is still rather good at 3.33 per contests and five attempts per night. Opportunities are there and Nash’s best assets are puck protection and creating chances. Defensively more holes have popped up in Nash’s game over the past couple seasons. Those can be covered up in Boston where possession and pace are among the tops in the league.
Boston needed a presence and they now have it. Will Nash become Jaromir Jagr version 2.0? That is a valid question. Power forward, good puck protector, and just could not score in Boston come playoff time. Nash has disappeared in postseasons past. That cannot be ignored. On the other hand, the winger has had some nice runs (see 2015 aside from Tampa).
Nash plays tonight against Buffalo which means a lot. It will be a first look at how he is deployed, etc. Expect high offensive zone rates to start and then they will settle to around 55%.
Does the winger play around 17 minutes a night? Even 15-16 minutes may keep him fresher for the playoffs. How Bruce Cassidy manages his minutes will be quite the story going forward.
Nash expects to be placed on the second line with David Krejci today unless Patrice Bergeron is downgraded to out. Ultimately, the winger should be paired with Krejci and then may see first or second power play unit time. One of his more underrated attributes is penalty killing. How Bruce Cassidy uses Nash there will be intriguing.
Offensive production could be anywhere from 10-15 points for Nash with Boston. Shots and chances may stay the same or nudge down slightly. Shooting percentage might creep up a bit (around 11%). Watch for Ryan Donato and if he signs once Harvard’s season ends. That may mitigate the loss of Spooner and help Boston.
What This Means For New York
Again, the prospects are nice in any deal but it comes down to a general manager drafting well. Jeff Gorton has his work cut out there. However, the players involved in the Nash deal have increasing value.
Ryan Spooner increased his production this year. Injuries stole about 1/4 of an NHL season but he has 25 points in 39 games. That projects out to 50+ for a full year. Spooner dropped to just five power-play points so far but had 35 combined in the previous two campaigns. He can be a weapon there for New York with a guys like Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello.
His half-wall play has improved noticeably and Spooner is harder to knock off the puck than previous seasons. Some will debate that but the evidence is there. The only “concern” is inconsistency. Some of that stems from the fact that he only played 14 minutes a night this year in Boston. Spooner should get top-six minutes with full power play time. Expect his numbers to get a boost. He may get even more chances next season if a new coach and system are implemented.
Spooner could come close to 15 points over the final games if he sees around 17 minutes a night. That is up to the Rangers coaching staff, however.
Now there is the rest…
Could Matt Beleskey be flipped in another deal? That might be possible. His cap hit is halved so that may entice a team or two. Assuming he is not, Beleskey could see bottom-six minutes if recalled and be a complementary role player.
Prospects are nice and Ryan Lindgren is strong. That is no question. Can he play in the NHL? He is a pretty good stay at home defenseman and is right around 6 foot and 200 pounds. He is only 20 and will have time to develop. There is little need to rush him at this time.
The picks again are all with what Jeff Gorton does with them. If Boston does not make a deep run, that first-round pick looks great. That is obvious.
Who won the trade?
It is always the inevitable question. Guess what? They both did. New York is continuing to retool while Boston is going for a deep run in the playoffs. Nash does slow them down a bit and must improve his actual production to make this trade worth it. He can but he can also vanish. That is the risk.
Thanks to Micah McCurdy, we have this visual here which shows a little more on Nash and Spooner currently.
Spooner can mesh will the top six in New York and has real potential to thrive with more utilization. Stay tuned!