RIVERSIDE, NJ – Today marked the 6th birthday of an exceptional young gentleman who I’m glad to call my cousin. “Jack” is as good as they come, well-mannered, doesn’t take the adults too seriously and has a terrific way about him. The only flaw so far in his six years is as a New York Rangers fan, Rick Nash is his favorite hockey player. Hopefully the kid sees me as one of his favorite “older” cousins; the one who blocks his basketball shots with Will Ferrell-like gusto and exuberance, is slow to recover after the round ball exploits and yet smart enough to buy him a personalized #61 Rangers shirt to commemorate the tyke’s birthday. And it was a great day celebrating but I vowed – for his sake – to get 500 words out explaining What a Big Stiff Rick Nash has been for the New York Rangers.
Nash is a first round, first overall pick (2002) player. Those are some lofty heights to try and live up to and while his nine-year efforts as a Columbus Blue Jacket might suggest he lived up to that billing, a closer look at the numbers may prove otherwise and further explain his play as a Ranger over the past four years.
As a youngster his +/- rating in career years one and two was a minus-62. That’s hard to do when you lead the league in goals scored with 41 in your second year and after a third place finish in the Calder Trophy for top rookie honors. Yeah, he played for some poor teams but when you’re filling the net that much, there’s no excuse for that large a negative number unless a player is a defensemen.
While the trade that sent him to Broadway wasn’t exactly like a Von Hayes deal (look it up folks) it was damn near close to it. Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov were top-6 forwards at the time and a young defense prospect in Tim Erixon plus a first-round pick were ransom in exchange for the big left-winger. All parties have underperformed for their respective teams and a few are on their second teams since the blockbuster.
Like is for his team, the clock is ticking on his prime years. Nash will be thirty-two years old in mid-June and as I suspect both player and club will be on the links because the NHL has the Capitals in their hearts judging by phantom calls in Washington’s last two games verses the Rangers and Bruins.
The playoffs haven’t been exactly the time for Nash to shine. In sixty career post-season games he has scored only ten goals after being almost a goal every other game performer in the regular season. A clutch performer like Matteau or Tikkanen or Graves? No Matteau! No Matteau! No Matteau! Only one game-winner in the playoffs for #61 and that was in the twenty-five games played in 2014.
At 6’4″ and 220 pounds, Nash plays like Rudy Reuttiger (5 foot nuthin’ & a hundred and somethin’) while disappearing in the spring. He’s a big brown blob who has also missed seventy-five games and counting over his four year tenure as the Rangers supposed top left-winger.
Nash will be on one of the Bridges out of here by the end of next year, when the Rangers try to clean up the roster and salary cap space. For now, though, it’s okay for a six year-old to sport the #61 on some officially licensed merchandise…
Comment below, follow us on Twitter @CheesyBruin & @MeetTheMatts and come back tomorrow for West Coast Craig., who is only just now getting over his Oscar snub.