The saga is over. Rick Nash is a Ranger.
General manager Glen Sather acquired Nash, a third-round pick and minor league defenseman Steven Delisle from Columbus for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a 2013 first-round pick Monday afternoon.
“He’ll help us immensely,” Sather said in a late afternoon conference call. This quality hockey player doesn’t come along very often. [It was a] deal we couldn’t turn down.”
The left wing has scored 289 goals in 674 NHL games, including a high of 41 in 2003-04. He adds elite-level goal scoring to a team that struggled to score in the playoffs. The lack of offense was exposed in the six-game series loss to the Devils in the Eastern Conference final.
“Sometimes when you think it’s a really good piece, but he doesn’t exactly fit in all the little things you do, you can teach him those things if he really brings you something else,” head coach John Tortorella said on breakup day when asked about the Rangers needing to add skill.
Sather believes Nash will fit in seamlessly.
“[Nash] has a track record of being an excellent hockey player. Everyone in our organization was after this guy,” Sather said. “Adding Nash doesn’t break up the core of the hockey club.”
The 28-year-old Nash is signed through the 2017-18 season with a $7.8 million cap hit. His contract includes a no-movement clause that expires following the 2014-15 season, and a no-trade clause that concludes at the end of the 2017-18 season.
However, Sather was not concerned about potential financial ramifications. He pointed out that Dubinsky will make $4.2 million for the next three years and that Artem Anisimov is a restricted free agent following next season. Erixon is scheduled to earn $1.75 million the next two years.
“The money is a wash,” Sather said.
Nash and the Rangers had been linked in trade discussions as far back as last February’s trade deadline. Columbus general manager Scott Howson told reporters after the deadline had passed that Nash had requested a trade, and included a list of teams he would approve a deal to. Howson added that the Blue Jackets were “not going to change our position. The price was high and I don’t apologize for that. It had to be high.” It is believed that the Rangers had offered Dubinsky, Erixon, prospects J.T. Miller and Christian Thomas, and a first-round pick in June’s draft.
Howson had demanded a package that would include, in some form, Dubinsky, defensemen Ryan McDonagh or Michael Del Zotto, forwards Derek Stepan or Chris Kreider and draft picks.
“The way the deals were falling out just didn’t make any sense for us,” Sather told reporters at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 27. “We like our team, we like where we are, we like the youth we have. We have a program in place [and] we want to stick with it.”
Sather declined to comment when asked if the package that was accepted had been overhauled.
“I don’t like to talk about things that did or did not happen,” Sather said. “I think it is a fair deal for both sides.”
Even with the acquisition of Nash, the Rangers are $13.391 million under the cap. So it is not out of the realm of possibility that they add another high-end player to one of the NHL’s youngest rosters. It was reported that Coyotes right wing Shane Doan and his representation met with the Rangers last week.
“[There are] still some people available we’re talking to do,” Sather said. He would not comment on Doan specifically, calling the news about the visit “purely speculative.” He did add that “[the trade] doesn’t eliminate the opportunity to pursue [another player].”
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman for more news throughout the NHL offseason.