By Matthew Cunha,
Rick Nash > Ryan Spooner. That really is the overall story after the Bruins traded Spooner, prospect Ryan Lindgreen, their 2018 1st round pick, and a 7th rounder to the New York Rangers for veteran power forward Rick Nash. Lindgreen, one of many left-shot defenseman prospects for the Bruins, was one of the many expendable pieces I wrote about before the deadline. The first rounder is also expendable with a heavy group prospects aimed to take the next step soon. (Team USA’s leading goal scorer Ryan Donato will lead that group.)
Spooner had 25 points in 39 games. Decent, but he never got it together with the Bruins. His play continued to be marked by inconsistency throughout his tenure. Nash is a veteran presence for the B’s locker room that adds a power element on team who relies more on their speed. He brings the two-way play and toughness needed for the postseason.
Nash instantly took over for Spooner as David Krejci’s wing vs. the Sabres and accumulated 5 shots and hit a post. In Tuesday’s game, Nash was a force again, scoring his first goal in the Bruins 4-3 OT win over Carolina.
He is exactly the type of forward that we have seen Krejci flourish beside. In the 2011 and 2013 playoffs, Krejci had power forwards Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton alongside him. Krejci led the playoffs in points both years.
As Bruce Cassidy touched on before the game on Sunday, Nash gives the bruins flexibility. A potential Nash-Krejci-Backes power line is something that could be an X-Factor in the postseason. That line could rival the 2011 and 2013 editions of the Horton-Krejci-Lucic line. Ideally, you would like to keep Nash with Krejci and DeBrusk, but vs. a bigger, more physical team like the Washington Capitals, slotting in Backes could help match their physicality.
Nash only had 10 goals and 18 assists for the Rangers this season amid trade rumors and a +/- of -8. He has the reputation of struggling in the postseason. In 77 playoff games, Nash has 15 goals and 26 assists for 41 points. The numbers are not eye popping, but he has averaged more than one point every two games.
In the 2015 playoffs he was a +8 and had 5 goals and 9 assists in 19 games for the Rangers. The Rangers took the Lightning to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Nash scored 42 goals during the regular season. The year before that, Nash’s Rangers lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the Los Angeles Kings after he lead them in the regular season with 26 goals.
His production has dropped the past three seasons, but he now finds himself in a contract situation with the chance to win. The Rangers the past few seasons have been a middle of the pack team in the Eastern Conference maxing out after winning one postseason round. The change in scenery could be just what Nash needed to increase production and land a final NHL contract.
Any rental player is a risk, but Rick Nash comes to the black and gold as someone who fits into the Bruins and his personal needs. They got someone who has postseason experience and plays in a way needed to have success. The Bruins had a lack of size up front, and combining him with Krejci could pay ultimate dividends in the playoffs. Don Sweeney risked little to nothing in the future, for someone who could be an important piece of a playoff run.
Final verdict: A+ move for the Bruins.
Matthew Cunha is a producer of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.