During their controversial 4-3 loss Saturday night to the Toronto Maple Leafs, word broke that the Bruins had become the favorite to land Rangers’ forward Rick Nash. Fast forward several hours later, and Bruins fans were waking up to the news that Nash had just become the newest addition to the Black and Gold.
In exchange for Nash, the Bruins sent Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey, Ryan Lindgren, a 2018 first-round pick and a 2019 seventh-round pick.
The Rangers will retain half of Nash’s salary and the Bruins will do the same for Beleskey. Nash is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, while Beleskey has two years left on the five-year contract he signed in 2015. The Bruins will have a $1.9 million cap hit next season for Beleskey.
At first glance, it does appear the Bruins gave up a lot for Nash. But the Bruins had a need and the trade for Nash shows that they’re all in and have a long playoff run in their sights.
Nash will slide right into Spooner’s spot on the second line alongside Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci. The veteran provides a heavy power forward presence and is the type of player that helped Krejci — alongside Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic — produce stellar postseason numbers in 2011 and 2013.
Nash has had a bit of a down year for an underachieving Rangers group with 28 points (18 goals, 10 assists) in 60 games.
After several mediocre seasons with the Bruins, Spooner had been a pleasant surprise with 25 points in 39 games this season. It’s still unknown if Spooner was a piece the Rangers really wanted, or if it was more of Don Sweeney forcing Jeff Gorton’s hand. Either way, Nash’s acquisition left Spooner without a viable spot in Bruce Cassidy’s lineup.
Lindgren, a sophomore defenseman at the University of Minnesota, has been impressive during his two years as a Golden Gopher. He also helped Team USA during their gold and bronze medal runs at the World Juniors in the last two years. The Bruins are fortunate enough to have a surplus of young defensemen on the roster — and several more prospects waiting in the wings — giving Sweeney some wiggle room in moving another defensive prospect.
Nash is nowhere near the franchise forward he had been during most of his career in Columbus and New York, but he still brings a lot to the table. With a lot of young forwards on the roster, adding a veteran like Nash will only help the likes of DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, Sean Kuraly and others.
The acquisition of Nash and price paid for him shows the Bruins are all in and believe that they have as much of a chance as anyone to bring the Stanley Cup back home. The NHL trade deadline arrives Monday afternoon at 3 pm. Very few will expect Sweeney to make another impact move, but then again, you just never know.