The New York Rangers’ firesale continued on Sunday, just a day before the NHL’s Feb. 26 trade deadline, sending veteran forward Rick Nash to the Boston Bruins for defenseman Ryan Lindgren, forward Matt Beleskey and Ryan Spooner, a 2018 first-round draft pick and a 2019 third rounder.
It’s the second time in the past week that the Rangers and Bruins have hooked up for a deal, New York sending Nick Holden to Boston for Ryan O’Gara and a 2018 third rounder on Feb. 19.
The trade brings an end to Nash’s five-plus-season stint with the Rangers in which he recorded 252 points in 375 games, including a 42-goal 2014-15 campaign.
With his better days behind him and with his contract expiring at the end of this season, there was little chance that the suddenly-rebuilding Rangers were going to bring him back, making the 33-year-old a hot commodity on the trade market. He won’t put up 40-plus goals again, but he is still a scoring threat with 18 goals this year.
It’s just the kind of scoring depth the Bruins needed as they look to add an offensive punch during their surge toward the top of the Eastern Conference.
In return for Nash, the Rangers received a sizeable haul in their pursuit of a relatively quick rebuild.
Boston’s first-round draft pick this year might turn out to be the biggest asset of this deal, though it will likely be toward the bottom of the chart if they continue to ride this hot streak into the postseason. Dating back to Jan. 13, the B’s have won 14 of their last 19 games.
Lindgren was a second-round pick in the 2016 draft (49th overall) who still has some developing to do at 20 years old. Regardless, he has shown flashes of becoming a solid, stay-at-home blueliner in the NHL during his time at the University of Minnesota and with the United States junior national team.
He’s an above-average skater who doesn’t shy away from getting into those dirty areas in the corners or in front of the net, something the Rangers need in support of aging goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Spooner is a 26-year-old lower-line center who isn’t going to light up a score sheet, but he is a versatile enough playmaker to either center a line or move out to the wing. That could turn out to be an important arrival for New York’s middle-of-the-road power play unit.
He was incentive enough for the Rangers to take half of Beleskey’s contract, which comes out to a $1.9 million cap hit in each of the next three seasons.
Beleskey has played just 14 games with the Bruins this season while spending time in the minors. He hadn’t recorded a single point with a minus-eight rating, a miserable response to a 2016-17 season in which he recorded just eight points in 49 games. The physical forward could try and rediscover his touch as a gritty fourth liner with the promise of putting up close to 20 goals or could just be stashed in the minors until his contract runs out in 2020.