The Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers have engineered two blockbuster trades in a span of about eight months, featuring superstars, role players, young talent and draft picks.
With the dust settling, are these teams better off after all these moves? Did one come out farther ahead than the other?
First, let's take a look at all the assets that have changed hands in these two trades:
On the surface, it looks like a fairly even swap of players and picks. There are two high-scoring right wings, four depth forwards and a couple of young defensemen who could spend the next 10-15 years in the NHL.
Let's delve a little deeper and look at what exactly each team has done to its roster with these trades.
THE STARS: GABORIK vs. NASH
Both players are usually mortal locks for 30 goals and have the ability to score 40 in a given season, although Gaborik is well off that pace in 2012-13 with nine goals in 35 games. But in both transactions, each team had an unhappy star that needed a change of scenery.
Nash had been in Columbus for nine seasons, eight of which ended with the Blue Jackets missing the playoffs. Then-general manager Scott Howson made a big splash in the summer of 2011, bringing in forwards Jeff Carter and Vinny Prospal and defenseman James Wisniewski in an attempt to make a postseason push.
Left Wing - NYR
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 17 | PTS: 30
SOG: 124 | +/-: 14
It backfired wildly, and an unhappy Nash asked to be dealt, as he said, in an effort to help the Jackets start a rebuilding process. The Rangers were a team that wanted to add offense last season, but a deal could not be reached at the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline. Nash was moved in July 2012 along with a conditional third-round pick in exchange for Dubinsky, Anisimov, Erixon and a first-round pick.
Gaborik wasn't in as dire a situation, but his on-ice relationship with coach John Tortorella was clearly strained. He found himself playing on the third or fourth line at times and was benched on several occasions for poor defensive decisions. Gaborik said he wasn't having fun in New York after he was traded Wednesday.
The Rangers acquiring Ryane Clowe on Tuesday made Gaborik expendable and also made it necessary to clear salary-cap space to sign upcoming restricted free agents Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh and Carl Hagelin and potentially re-sign Clowe, a UFA after the season. In an effort to add depth that was lost last summer in the Nash trade and free agency, the Rangers sent Gaborik to the Jackets for Brassard, Moore, Dorsett and a sixth-round pick.
Just comparing Nash and Gaborik, the Rangers appear to come out ahead here. Nash turns 29 in June and Gaborik just turned 31 in February. They carry similar cap hits -- Nash is $7.8 million, Gaborik is $7.5 million -- and play the same position. Nash may not have the same goal-scoring resume as Gaborik, but he's a better overall player.
THE DEPTH: ANISIMOV, DUBINSKY, ERIXON vs. BRASSARD, DORSETT, MOORE
Little did the Rangers realize that when they acquired Nash and lost Anisimov and Dubinsky along with Brandon Prust, Ruslan Fedotenko and John Mitchell in free agency, it would ravage their secondary scoring to the point that Nash's terrific play this season would be rendered moot.
The Rangers entered the trade deadline ranked 30th in goals per game. Some of it had to do with Gaborik's decline and the poor play of Brad Richards, but finding offense from a bottom-six forward on the Rangers was akin to finding a water park in the middle of the Sahara Desert. Along with missing offense, there was a distinct lack of grit as well, something Prust provided on a nightly basis in 2011-12.
Center - CBJ
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 15
SOG: 60 | +/-: -5
Those problems should be remedied by picking up Clowe and Dorsett, although the latter is out until perhaps the postseason with a broken collarbone. Dorsett appears to be a carbon copy of Prust -- willing to fight just about anyone, able to score a goal here and there while acting as a solid penalty killer.
Rookie Chris Kreider hasn't found the magic or confidence he brought with him in last year's playoffs and has bounced between the AHL, the press box and the Rangers, where his ice time has been quite minimal. His disappointing inaugural regular season, along with fellow rookie J.T. Miller lacking a scoring touch as well, is a big reason why Brassard is in New York.
A 25-year-old who hasn't lived up to the hype of being the sixth pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, Brassard is a competent third-line center who can also help the Rangers' inept power play. He's proven to be good for 15-20 goals over the course of a season, which was what the Rangers lost in dealing Dubinsky and Anisimov. Just as in the cases of Nash and Gaborik, a new home could do Brassard some good.
For the Blue Jackets, they too are compensating for losing what they gave away in the Nash trade. They ranked 29th in goals per game entering the trade deadline, and Gaborik should help them in that area immediately. Anisimov has provided offense with nine goals in 28 games and Dubinsky has been a gritty penalty killer when healthy, but just like the Rangers needed to recover their depth, the Blue Jackets needed to recover an elite scorer.
As for Erixon and Moore, the Rangers were desperate for a bottom-pairing defenseman with Marc Staal still out indefinitely with an eye injury. The Rangers have tried Stu Bickel, Matt Gilroy and Roman Hamrlik in that role, but with a goal in his debut Wednesday, Moore already seems like an improvement at that spot.
Defense - CBJ
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 5
SOG: 19 | +/-: 3
Erixon has five assists in 26 games while playing about 16 minutes per game. Both he and Moore are 22 years old and were first-round picks in 2009 -- Moore was taken 21st by the Jackets, Erixon was selected two spots later by the Calgary Flames
With the Rangers' replacements for their depth forwards not meeting expectations, the Blue Jackets appear to come out ahead in this area.
THE PICKS AND PROSPECTS
The Jackets have a potential 2013 top-20 pick in one of the deeper drafts in recent years. Delisle is a longshot to make the NHL as a defenseman, as is Parlett. Both are 23 years old.
The Rangers get two later-round picks, something with which they've done well in the past -- Ryan Callahan was a fourth-round pick in 2004 and Henrik Lundqvist was a seventh-round choice in 2000 -- but trying to decide who wins this category now is like judging omelets before the eggs have been cracked.
SO WHO WINS?
It appears that for now, both sides got exactly what they wanted. The Blue Jackets get the scorer they lost in the Nash trade and are showing their fans they are ready to make a push for a playoff berth now. The Rangers get the depth they lost this summer to make them a stronger contender while at the same time looking toward the financial constraints they will be under this offseason with the salary cap coming down.
If only the Jackets and Rangers could have seen into the future in July, they could've made these two deals into one monster trade then.