NEW YORK, N.Y. – The New York Rangers certainly had interest in top forward Rick Nash, they just weren’t going to break up a successful team to pry him away from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
After weeks of speculation and rumour, the Eastern Conference leaders stood pat on Monday and let the NHL trade deadline pass without meeting the high demands of the Blue Jackets—a club that is last in the league that was trying to score a huge return in exchange for their captain.
“They’ve played very well,” Rangers General Manager Glen Sather said of his club. “The coaching staff likes the team that we have. I like our team. I wasn’t going to dismantle any of the pieces out of the organization.”
Nash ended up staying with the Blue Jackets, who said after the deadline came and went that the star forward had asked to be traded. Speculation of where he might land will surely grow again as the NHL draft and the summer approach.
The Rangers pulled off one deal on Monday, landing hulking defenceman John Scott from the Chicago Blackhawks. He cost only a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft back to the Blackhawks. Sather likes the versatility that the 6-foot-8, 270-pound, Scott provides as he can play either on defence or at forward.
He provides depth for the Rangers and takes some of the physical responsibility away from such players as Mike Rupp and Brandon Prust.
“We’ve got a lot of games coming this month against some pretty rugged teams,” Sather said. “He’s a real good factor to stop that kind of fooling around that happens this time of the year. He gives us a little more depth on defence and he gives us a huge guy up front if we want to put him up front.”
Heading into Monday’s games, 28 of the 30 NHL teams were within 10 points of the post-season cutoff with about 20 games remaining. With many teams still holding out hope they can get into the playoffs, there were more buyers than sellers—and that jacked up the prices.
“They seemed very high,” Sather said. “There are so many teams that are in the hunt. Then you have teams that weren’t in the hunt that were trying to get as much as they could, maximize their assets.
“We’re in a position now that we’ve got a lot of good youth in the organization. We’ve got good prospects. The nice thing about it is everybody evaluates your prospects for you.”
The 29-year-old Scott is in his fourth NHL season. It is his second with Chicago after a two-season stint with the Minnesota Wild. He has one goal and four assists in 140 career NHL games.
The Rangers (39-15-6) entered Monday night’s home game against New Jersey with a seven-point lead in the conference over Boston and Atlantic Division-rival Pittsburgh.
“We like our team, we like where we are, we like the youth we have. We’ve got a program in place and we want to stick with it,” Sather said. “I like the chemistry of the hockey team. I like the way they are playing. They don’t quit, they work hard. We don’t win every night but we’ve been winning our fair share.”