Grabner and Nash won’t play tonight


Updating the situation surrounding the Rangers, it looks like they’re closing in on potential deals. Rumored forwards Michael Grabner and Rick Nash aren’t going to play in tonight’s game at Montreal.

They just recalled a extra forward Vinni Lettieri from Hartford. He and Paul Carey will dress in their place as GM Jeff Gorton works the phones trying to get something done.

Per the New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis, Nash will also be out of the lineup.

Both have had good seasons. Grabner is leading the team with 25 goals giving him a combined 52 in less than two seasons since joining the club. He scored 27 last year to finish one behind team leader Chris Kreider.

Nash has been playing very well since the new calendar year. He’s up to 18 goals with half the production coming since the New Year. The proven finisher who plays power play and penalty kill has attracted plenty of interest. If it’s not Nashville with it looking to be kaput, it could be Boston or Dallas. Plenty of teams can use a player of his caliber.

If this is it for Nash, he is one point shy of 800 for his NHL career. The former Blue Jackets first overall pick in ‘02 came over to the Rangers in the summer of 2012 in a trade involving Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky with other pieces Tim Erixon and a 2013 first round pick (Kerby Rychel) going to Columbus. The Rangers also received Steven Delisle and a 2013 third round pick that turned into Pavel Buchnevich. So, they did quite well. Anisimov was eventually dealt to Chicago for Brandon Saad, who became Artemi Panarin when he was reacquired by the Blackhawks last summer.

In his sixth season on Broadway, the 33-year old Nash who will become unrestricted this summer has been part of two teams that made deep playoff runs. They reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2014 and came within a period of returning in 2015. A disappointing shutout loss on home ice that basically ended their championship aspirations. Since, the Rangers have been eliminated in the first and second round of the postseason.

In 375 games with the Blueshirts, Nash has registered 145 goals with 107 assists totaling 252 points and a plus-64 rating. The breakdown of the goals is this:

Even Strength-111

Power Play-26

Shorthanded-8

He also has totaled 29 game-winners. Of his seven career hat tricks, two have come as a Ranger on Dec. 23, 2014 vs Washington and Nov. 21, 2015 at Florida.

Nash has never been the best postseason performer. However, enough isn’t said about his skating and forechecking. He has always brought a strong work ethic and good leadership. In the ‘14 run, he totaled 10 points (3-7-10). In 2015, Nash went 5-9-14.

Even as it winds down, it may not have had the dream scenario both he and the Rangers envisioned. It’s hard to win. They came close twice. Nash was a big part of that.

If he has in fact played his final game, good luck wherever you go. Though he has admitted how much he’s loved being a Ranger. There’s always a chance he could return if he so desires. But it will depend on a lot of factors. Some which we won’t know until after the season.

Regardless, there are still 22 games left to play. Fans will get a chance to see more new faces once Nash and Grabner are gone.

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About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included two stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil games. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has scored Berkeley Carroll basketball games since 2006 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. From players, coaches to administrators, it's a first class program. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree.
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