Brad Richards is excited about the potential of feeding pucks to a sniper like Rick Nash.
“It’s what we need,” the Murray Harbour native said Tuesday. “He’s one of the best scorers and power forwards in the league. He brings us size and goal scoring.”
The New York Rangers traded for Nash Monday, bringing to an end months of speculation. The two sides had been linked since it became public Nash was on the market.
Richards said it was intriguing at the trade deadline to think of adding a player of Nash’s calibre, depending on what would go the opposite way in the deal.
“You knew this guy could really put your team over the top,” he said.
But with young players, like Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan, being mentioned as possible targets for Columbus it could have hurt the team over the long term.
“That’s why it took so long,” Richards said. “That was something, obviously, Columbus wanted and something New York didn’t want to do.”
He said it is tough to lose a pair of players, Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, who helped get the Rangers where they are, but he is excited to have Nash on board. The two are having dinner today in New York.
The Rangers lost the conference final to New Jersey in six games this spring after winning their first two series in seven games. The acquisition of the six-foot-four, 219-pound left winger raises expectations for the Rangers and places them among the pre-season Stanley Cup favourites.
“We’re not going to hide from any of that here in this city,” Richards said of potential pressure. “We want to be better anyway, no matter what, but you add a guy like him for sure, the bull’s-eye is going to be on us this year.”
Richards signed a nine-year, $58.5-million contract in July 2011 with the Rangers. He said the Rangers’ young nucleus and management commitment to winning were big selling points for him. “They’re not scared to go out and try to get better all the time.”
Nash, a 28-year-old from Brampton, Ont., was drafted first overall in the 2002 NHL draft. He has scored 289 goals and set up 258 in 674 NHL games.
Richards and Nash were teammates on Team Canada at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy. They didn’t play on the same line as Richards predominantly played with Tampa Bay teammates Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. He suspects it will be different this fall.
“I would imagine there’s going to be that opportunity,” he said.