I do a lot of grocery shopping for my house. Considering I live in a smaller town the grocery stores usually can’t compete with the quality of the one next to my work. So, everyday during my lunch I make my way over and purchase both my dinner and whatever else is necessary for the time being. Since it’s only myself and my fiancee at home our consumption is low to say the least. In my short breaks in between staring at my phone I like to glance around and see what the other shoppers are buying. What I find is that every different family has different needs. For example where I buy avocados and bananas that will ripen over time, the mother of four down the aisle is placing the ready to eat produce in her cart.
Where I hope this begins to make sense is when we look at the acquisition yesterday afternoon of Rick Nash by the New York Rangers. Having finished the regular season as the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Rangers made their way to the final four of the Stanley Cup playoffs before losing out to the New Jersey Devils in six games. With most of last years team making their way back to the blueshirts next season General Manager Glen Sather thought the time was right and pulled the trigger on the Nash deal. In Nash the Rangers are receiving a 28 year old winger that has been declining in points for three straight seasons. What Nash is to the Rangers is a ripe (perhaps overripe) winger who considering his salary – six more years at $7.8 million – and what the Rangers paid for him – Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a 1st round pick – will be looked upon to be the final piece in putting New York over the top. With an aging Henrik Lundqvist and Brad Richards leading the charge the time is now for Sather’s team to make a push for Stanley’s Cup.
Being a big fan of Dubinsky and seeing what respected prospect evaluator Corey Pronman had to say about Erixon I think that the Rangers paid too much for Nash. However should the 6’4″ 218 lbs former captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets win a cup with New York than the the price was worth it. The window is clearly open on broadway and Sather demonstrated yesterday that he is willing to make the moves necessary while the time is right.
On the other hand of the equation the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier this summer acquired their own big bodied, highly skilled winger. Leafs GM Brian Burke brought in former 2nd overall pick James van Riemsdyk in from Philadelphia in exchange for Luke Schenn. The 23 year old van Riemsdyk is not as accomplished as Nash, but he has seen his points per game increase every season that he has been in the league and at $4.25 million dollars he provides the Leafs with more financial flexibility.
Having iced the second youngest team in the league last season – not to mention missing the playoffs for the seventh straight season – the Leafs are definitely in a different stage than New York is. An aging and declining asset such as Nash would be irrelevant on this current blue and white team. In JVR though, Burke has acquired a young and rising future star in the league who is just beginning to ripen.
I am a big believer of pedigree, and while I may be naive or foolish to believe in such a thing I cannot help but think that how a player was thought of as a junior really carries a tonne of weight. In that circumstance both Nash and JVR have excellent pedigrees. Nash was the first overall pick in the 2002 draft, while JVR was taken second in 2007. Neither player has done anything to prove the scouts wrong as they have both flourished so far in their careers.
While the Rangers stock up for a cup run the Leafs are looking to grow into a team capable of doing just that in a few years. The position that these two organizations are in at the moment could not be clarified more then by the moves the two respective GM’s pulled of this summer. Seeing two highly skilled, giant wingers moved in one off season has certainly made this one interesting summer.
One thing sticks out to me though when comparing Nash and JVR. Yes, Nash is older and more accomplished in the league, but JVR has played almost ten times – 39 to 4 – the amount of post season games than Nash. It’s interesting that the piece Sather added to make his team more competitive in the playoffs has only four career post season games under his belt. As for JVR, Burke’s new winger has already been to a Stanley Cup finals, and has demonstrated a remarkable ability to raise his game come the springtime.
One final thing I’ve learned from shopping is how to spot a great deal. In JVR Burke paid less (in terms of organizational assets) for a younger, cheaper and proven playoff performing 6’3″ 200 lbs highly skilled winger than Sather did for Nash. In my opinion that’s a pretty shrewd purchase Burke made for the blue and white.