PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 25: Rick Nash #61of the Columbus Blue Jackets handles the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on September 25 2010 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
The New York Rangers acquired Rick Nash back in July. One of the best teams at preventing goals last year, the Rangers ranked 11th in the league in goals for, but really had to scrape for most of them, and they became even more hard to come by in the playoffs.
The talented Nash should immediately solve the Rangers' biggest deficiency from a year ago. Long thought of as one of the best power forwards in hockey, the question has surfaced this offseason with the 28-year-old hitting New York: Is he overrated?
EJ Hradek of NHL.com posed the question -- to which he answered, "No," but it still got me thinking. Obviously, this doubt only creeps in because Nash has never won a Stanley Cup and has only been to the playoffs one time. The winger has also never been an 80-point player and has scored a point per game twice in his nine-year career. So that makes him -- and the $7.8 million salary he's owed for the next six years -- overrated, right?
Wrong. Nash has twice been a 40-goal scorer. That's elite; four players last year had at least that many. He's scored at least 30 goals in six seasons; 30 players had at at least 30 markers last year. He's also played on a Columbus Blue Jackets team for the duration of his career that was never very good and barely had any support over his career.
He's never played on a team with the help he figures to get on his new team. Never has he had a world-class center setting him up. Brad Richards has had 40 or more assists in each year -- 11 -- of his career, minus the injury-shortened one in 2009. Twice he's had totals in the 50s and twice he's been nearly 70. Some say that one player won't make a difference for another, but the best ones often need to play with the best players to maximize their potential. They're operate on a different wavelength, think the play before it happens.
Other career milestones point to Nash's unique talent. He's been an Olympian twice. And he played on Sidney Crosby's line on the 2010 gold medal winning team, scoring twice and notching five assists in seven games.
When all is said and done, Nash won't be asked, like he was with the Blue Jackets, to be a one-man show in New York. He won't be looked at every night to carry the team. With the Rangers, he has a promising young core, sprinkled with All-Stars and solid role players. Rather than being considered overrated, fans and experts should look at Nash's move with promise: It wouldn't be surprising if he eclipsed the 80-point mark for the first time in his career -- and possibly does it multiple times.