Jan 10, 2013, 12:00 PM EDT
Every day until the season starts we’ll explore an intriguing storyline for the upcoming year.
Last season, the New York Rangers fell just two wins short of playing in the Stanley Cup finals. They beat Ottawa and Washington in seven games, and lost to New Jersey in six. All in all, it was a good run.
But for all the good they did, they only scored more than three goals once in 20 games, and that was in the first game of the first round when they got four.
Nash, 28, was the NHL’s first overall pick in 2002. Since then, the big winger has scored 289 times in 674 games. Of all the players with fewer than 700 games played, only Alex Ovechkin has more career goals.
True, Nash comes with a big contract – six seasons remaining with a cap hit of $7.8 million. But guys with seven 30-goal seasons that are still in their 20s are somewhat hard to come by.
Following the conference final defeat to New Jersey, Rangers general manager Glen Sather was determined to improve his club’s offense.
“This changes the complexion of our team,” said Sather. “It’s not going to change the way we play, but his ability is – he’s a world-class player, and was very excited to come to New York. We were one of his chosen few right from the beginning.”
But will Nash buy in to the Rangers’ do-whatever-it-takes philosophy that saw them block the third most shots in the NHL last season?
“I have no worry in the world about that,” said Sather. “If you remember, if you look at the record that this guy’s had over his career, he’s got a tremendous record of being an excellent hockey player. He played in the Olympics, he was one of the better players on that team.
“[Rangers head coach John] Tortorella’s coached against him not only in the NHL but also at the Olympics, and knew very well what his style was, knew that he’d fit in well with us. Everyone in our organization was after this guy.”
Besides, blocking a lot of shots isn’t always a good sign. When you’re blocking shots, you don’t have the puck. The Minnesota Wild led the league in block shots last season; the Islanders were second. Puck possession, or lack thereof, was a major concern for Tortorella in the New Jersey series.
In Nash, the Rangers get a big body that can control the puck in the offensive zone.
Also safe to say, Nash never had linemates like that in Columbus.
“I think the main thing was looking at the team,” Nash said in July, “looking at what they’ve done over the years. It’s something I’d love to be part of.
“I’d love to help them out.”
- Video: Flyers trounce slumping Penguins on Rivalry Night 12
- Video: Crosby scores goal No. 300 for his NHL career 5
- (Video) McKenzie: ‘Best guess is anywhere from 3-5 games’ for Byfuglien suspension 13
- Byfuglien to have phone hearing for Miller cross-check 44
- Patrick Kane is practicing today 30
- NHL on NBCSN: Flyers won’t fool with Penguins on Rivalry Night 35
- ‘Could’ve broken his neck,’ says Vigneault of Byfuglien cross check on Miller 66
- Video: Byfuglien gets away with ugly cross check, penalized late in Jets loss to Rangers 36
- Video: Lucic scores late winner, Bruins deal crushing blow to Panthers playoff hopes 11
- Video: Ovi becomes sixth player in history to record six 50-goal seasons 18
- ‘Could’ve broken his neck,’ says Vigneault of Byfuglien cross check on Miller (66)
- Minnesota leapfrogs Chicago in the Central Division (65)
- Coyotes ‘win’ against Sabres in OT (58)
- Sabres GM Tim Murray: ‘I think too much about’ McDavid (55)
- Report: Warrant issued for Deveaux’s arrest following Swedish league attack (49)