February 15, 2019

New York Rangers

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  Call it a little taste of Nash-ville on Broadway.

The Rangers finally caught the whale of a scoring winger they'd been chasing for month, landing the prized catch of this summer's trade market perennial 30-goal scorer Rick Nash from Columbus for three players and a first-round draft pick on July 23.

"I think I'll embrace it great," the 28-year-old Nash said of moving from a small-market team to New York. "In 2010, I had the most pressure on me ever in the (Vancouver) Olympics, being in our home country.

"I feel like hockey is truly a passion here (in New York) where they expect a championship-caliber team, and I think they've done everything they can as an organization to put that together."

GM Glen Sather had held firm for nearly five months since before the March trade deadline in not surrendering any of the team's top young players for Nash, including forwards Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan and defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto. New York wound up including none of those prized youngsters in the deal, instead shipping forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, minor league defenseman Tim Erixon and their 2013 first-rounder to the Blue Jackets.

"This quality of a hockey player doesn't come along very often," Sather said. "This is a very important deal to our hockey club."

The Rangers, who lost to New Jersey in the Eastern Conference final after starting the playoffs as the No. 1 seed, will be without leading scorer Marian Gaborik until December after he underwent shoulder surgery. Nash, a five-time All-Star and two-time 40-goal scorer, should fill in nicely alongside top center Brad Richards, both before and after Gaborik returns.

"I think pressure is a great thing if you use it in the right way," said Nash, who comes with a $7.8 million salary cap hit through 2017-18. "I think the big market is just a bonus that comes along with it.

"Growing up around Toronto (in Brampton, Ontario), it's kind of what I'm used to for hockey. It was a bit of a change playing in Columbus. After being there for nine, 10 years, I think I'm looking forward to seeing all this. ...

"I think every kid dreams about playing for an Original Six (team) in a big-time city," Nash said. "I don't think there's a better place than New York for me.