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Behind The Numbers

Nash trade gives Bruins more effective forward group

Former Rangers wing excels in all manpower situations, more versatile than Spooner

by Rob Vollman / Correspondent

Rick Nash is a versatile, two-way forward capable of playing on either wing and in any man-power situation, who can provide a boost in terms of both scoring and shot-based metrics for the Boston Bruins.

The Bruins acquired Nash on Sunday, a day before the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET), sending forwards Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey, defenseman Ryan Lindgren and its first- and seventh round selections in the 2018 NHL Draft.


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At even-strength, Nash is likely to replace Spooner on a line with center David Krejci and rookie Jake DeBrusk that is deployed primarily in the offensive zone. Spooner's offensive-zone start percentage of 78.17 at 5-on-5 leads NHL forwards who have played at least 20 games, DeBrusk ranks sixth at 70.10, and Krejci is eighth at 68.17.

With New York, Nash's offensive-zone starts were limited to 55.51 percent.

This favorable deployment should boost Nash's scoring, which already represents a slight upgrade on Spooner.

During the past three seasons combined, Nash has 81 points (42 goals, 39 assists) in 187 games at even strength with the Rangers, which is nine points more than Spooner, who has 72 points (23 goals, 49 assists) in 197 games. Taking ice-time into account, Nash has averaged 1.95 even-strength points per 60 minutes, and Spooner has averaged 1.87.

During this time, Boston has outshot opponents 2,081-2,005 with Spooner on the ice, for an SAT of plus-76, which is 287 shot attempts better than Nash's SAT of minus-211 (2,172-2,383) with the Rangers. Once adjusted for the fact that Boston is among the League leaders in shot-based metrics, Nash has the better results. In terms of percentages, the Rangers share of shot attempts increased from 46.95 percent to 47.68 with Nash on the ice, for a Relative SAT of plus-0.73 percent. That is 2.57 better than Spooner; Boston's share of shot attempts fell from 52.77 percent to 50.93, for a Relative SAT of minus-1.84.

Video: Daneyko and Whitney react to the Rick Nash trade

Nash can also contribute on special teams. Among Rangers forwards, Nash ranked sixth with an average of 2:11 minutes per game on the power play this season. He was fourth in average time on the penalty kill, 1:44.

His presence could help solidify an already solid penalty kill for Boston, which is fourth in the League with at 83.1 percent. Boston's power play, which ranks No. 15 at 20.2 percent, featured Spooner playing 2.48 per game, which means Nash could see more power-play time than he did with Rangers.

With the Bruins in a tight race for second place in the Atlantic Division with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and still within hailing distance of the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning, Nash's prowess in the shootout should not be overlooked.

He has 32 career goals, in 86 attempts (37.2), ranks No. 15 since it was introduced in 2005-06. Spooner did not feature often in the shootout, scoring four times in 15 shots in his career.

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