Trading Rick Nash is the most important move to retooling the Rangers

Nash (Getty)

Nash (Getty)

The offseason hasn’t even started, and still one of the most talked about players likely to be moved is NYR forward, Rick Nash. But why? He was once considered one of the best goal scorers in the league, however since coming to NY he hasn’t lived up to the hype.

There is no denying that Nash is an excellent two way player. He is likely the Rangers’ best penalty killer and is lauded by those who consider possession stats the best metric of a player’s value. However, at 7.8M which would rank him the 10th highest paid forward in the league, that isn’t going to cut it.

The truth of the matter is this, players don’t earn big bucks because they do the little things right. No, the players earning that kind of cash actually produce real results that end up on the scoreboard and eventually to wins.

Here’s why many Rangers fans have argued it’s time for Rick Nash to go, even though those who immediately cite fancy stats numbers disagree. The harsh fact is, Rick Nash ranks almost dead last in forwards earning between 7.25M and 8.625 a year!

For this analysis, I immediately removed the top 5 paid forwards because in fairness, they’re on a different level. So Crosby (8.7), Malkin (9.5), Ovechkin (9.5), Toews and Kane (10.5M) have been excluded.

I opted not to exclude Corey Perry at 8.625M and Steven Stamkos at 7.5M, because in 2014 Nash outscored Perry and was even with Stamkos. What you see below is the complete average points data set of 12 players making about 500K more to 500k less than Nash.

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 10.59.18 AM

If you couldn’t quite put your finger on why you wanted to get rid of Rick Nash, this is it. Despite being the 5th highest paid player in this group, he never ranked higher than 6th in points per game average in the last three years. To make matters worse, he’s finished dead last and second to last during this timeframe.

Not really worth 7.8 million dollars is it?

Nash vs field over 3 years

Nash vs field over 3 years

His rank over the last 3 years is 10th out of 12th, only placing ahead of Eric Staal who is on a steep decline and Bobby Ryan (who makes 550K less).

It’s viewing Rick Nash through this lens where you can see why the Rangers and their fans are ready to go in a different direction. One doesn’t even need to get into his playoff scoring woes as well.

By shining a bright light on this information, we understand why the Rangers are making him available? Players in this range need to produce goals and points, not just excellent possession stats. The belief that good corsi numbers will eventually lead to production is not the case for Rick Nash. Players earn top dollar in the NHL because they can score at a rate average players can’t come close to. Otherwise, players like the Kings’ Nick Shore who finished with a mind boggling CF% of 61.3 would make megabucks.

The good news is Rick Nash still has value to a team that feels they are one top 6 forward away from a championship. The fact he only has 2 years on his contract also makes the risk worth taking, since that team won’t be saddled for long with his cap hit.

As far as the return, that depends. It will certainly be more if the Rangers retain any of his salary and it will be much less if they chose not to pay any of it. The point is, if the Rangers aren’t going to get even Jason Spezza or David Krejci like production out of him, he has to go. Let’s face facts, Alain Vigneault didn’t use Nash on the 1st unit PP. That has to tell you something.

Jeff Gorton needs to revamp this team, but he also needs to go for broke. Keeping some of his RFA’s is a must, and eliminating some of Nash’s salary is also a must for that to happen. Maybe dealing Kevin Hayes to Edmonton for Nail Yakupov to team him up with fellow Russian, Pavel Buchnevich will give the Rangers an offensive boost for years.

Then the Rangers can take whatever savings they get from moving Rick Nash and work on a Keith Yandle replacement. The bottom line is this, none of these moves can be made with Nash’s lack of production at his current salary on the roster.

For the Rangers to retool and get back to contention, trading Rick Nash must be the move they make first.