The vibe on Twitter is that the Rangers got the better of Columbus in their acquisition of Rick Nash for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first-round pick, but is it that clear-cut?
Consider it from a Sabres fan point-of-view, as clearly Buffalo boosters were hoping to acquire a Nash-level player this offseason (and this trade certainly perplexes those attempting to discover what it’ll cost to get Bobby Ryan out of Anaheim).
Statistically-speaking, let’s use Buffalo’s debatably-elite left winger, Thomas Vanek. Nash and Vanek (both 28 years old, though Nash was ) career averages are nearly identical in goals-per-game & points-per-game. That’s how Sabres fans should evaluate the Nash trade. Would you take Dubinsky, Anisimov, Erixon & 1st for Vanek?
I think I might, even as a huge Vanek fan. I won’t claim the Sports Reference pages (www.baseball-reference.com, hockey-reference.com) and their formulas as dogma, but suppose you took Dubinsky and Anisimov out of your perception of them as players and put them into their historical perspective using Hockey Reference’s similarity scores (For an example, scroll down Dubinsky’s page here).
Dubinsky (through six years of respective NHL careers): Marc Savard, Eric Daze, Curtis Glencross, Niklas Sundstrom, Steve Reinprecht.
Anisimov (through four years of respective NHL careers): Darryl Sutter, Guy Carbonneau, Mariusz Czerkawski, James van Riemdsdyk.
Erixon and the first-round pick are obviously incomparable to NHL history as one is a variable and Erixon is as of right now just a projected Top Four blueliner, but what about some of those comparisons? Of course, you’d have to temper your thoughts with the knowledge that your know the rest of those players careers while Dubinsky & Anisimov have more ups and downs to find over their remaining careers.
For example, Czerkawski went on to twice score 30-plus goals but Sutter’s stats never reflected his full potential thanks to durability problems. Daze, arguably, was Rick Nash while Sundstrom was an epic disappointment from the junior player who played on a line with Peter Forsberg and Markus Naslund (John McCargo, anyone?).
Admittedly, Nash is one of my favorite players in the game but I don’t think the lopsided opinions of the trade are accurate. Fans are drooling over the Rangers potential to roll out a line of Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik (and rightfully so), but the grades on Columbus’ return have far more to do with Howson’s past perceived failings (For example, within one year Howson turned Jakub Voracek, a 1st & a 3rd into Jeff Carter, then Carter into Jack Johnson and a 2012 or 2013 first-round pick, then choosing 2013 when the Kings pick became No. 30).
The Blue Jackets won’t succeed in 2012-13, but this trade sets up a 2013 draft that will feature a lottery pick and another first depending where the Kings finish. Nash’s departure is a culture shock to the Columbus room, but Dubinsky and new pick-up Nick Foligno should help with an infusion of attitude and responsible hockey. Columbus is now likely to carry at least three forwards who don’t belong in the NHL with a D-corps that will include Johnson, Erixon, James Wisniewski and No. 2 pick Ryan Murray. Columbus and Nashville… on the clock?