Feb 142012
 

So word has come out over the last day that Rick Nash is, at least on some level, available in a trade from the Blue Jackets.  So, the question is, who is Rick Nash and would you want him on your team?

Nash has been a Blue Jacket from the day he was drafted first overall in 2002.  He has played 648 regular season games and has scored 277 goals and 527 points.  Since the lockout he is 10th in goals (only Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Heatley, Iginla, Staal, Lecavalier, Marleau, Vanek and Hossa) and 25 in points.  He has a pair of 40+ goals seasons and has been a 30+ goal scorer six times.  He has just 4 NHL playoff games under his belt when he scored 1 goal and a pair of assists.  He was a member of the 2010 Canadian Olympic team scoring a pair of goals and 3 assists in 7 games on route to the gold medal.  That is the raw facts that we all know about Nash.  But what about advanced statistics.

Here are my HockeyAnalysis ratings for Rick Nash over the past 4 seasons plus this season as well as his 2007-11 four year average.

2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2007-11 (4yr)
HARO+ 0.991 1.070 1.257 1.502 1.079 1.200
HARO+ rank 142/235 118/241 59/245 8/260 116/229 60/217
HARD+ 0.827 0.992 0.802 0.882 0.732 0.895
HARD+ rank 164/235 96/241 196/245 162/260 197/229 162/217
HART+ 0.909 1.031 1.030 1.192 0.905 1.047
HART+ rank 172/235 115/241 123/245 36/260 169/229 95/217

HARO+ is an offensive rating, HARD+ is a defensive rating and HART+ is his total/overall rating which is simply an average of his HARO+ and HARD+ ratings.  These ratings are for 5v5 close zone adjusted situations and the rank includes any players who played 400 ore more minutes in single seasons, 300 minutes for 2011-12 partial season (through this past Saturday’s games) and 1500 minutes for the 4 year average.  These ratings take into account quality of teammates and quality of competition.

 

Overall in 5v5 close situations Rick Nash looks to be a solid offensive player, but not elite overall and defensively he is relatively weak.

To put Nash’s 4 year numbers in perspective, the most closely ranked players in terms of HARO+ are Cammalleri, Weiss, Hemsky, Jussi Jokinen, Vanek, Boyes, Bertuzzi, Grabovski, Alfredsson and Parise.

How about Nash’s 5v4 power play numbers.

5v4 HARO+
2007-08 1.010
2008-09 0.853
2009-10 1.203
2010-11 0.902
2011-12 0.951
2007-11 (4yr) 0.967
2007-11 rank (500 min.) 154/184
2007-11 rank (750 min.) 92/99

Generally speaking, his PP numbers are quite poor relative to other top PP forwards.

An interesting comparable is Joffrey Lupul.  It is an interesting comparable because it is quite likely that the Leafs will have an interest in Rick Nash and also because Lupul is an interesting case because he has really had a break through season this year.  Or so it seems anyway.

Nash Lupul
2007-11 5v5close HARO+ 1.200 1.385
2007-11 5v5 HARO+ 1.080 1.118
2007-11 5v4 HARO+ 0.967 1.246

It’s interesting that Joffrey Lupul ranked better than Nash in each of the three categories.  Due to injury Lupul didn’t put up 1500 minutes of 5v5 close ice time (he had 1374:44), but of all 251 players to play 1350 minutes of 5v5 close ice time Lupul ranked 10th.  When looking at these numbers it is actually not a surprise to see Lupul tied for 5th in points and 17th in goals.  He is finally being given an opportunity to play big time first line minutes with offensive zone starts and #1 PP unit ice time and as a result, he is producing.

So, getting back to Nash, let’s take a look at how he has done with his various linemates over the previous four seasons.  Here are the scoring rates (goals for per 20 minutes) for all the forwards who have played at least 250 minites of 5v5 close zone adjusted minutes during the 2007-11 four year time period.

Linemate TOI Together Nash /wo Linemate Linemate /wo Nash
Huselius 969:45 0.969 0.938 0.907
Vermette 607:35 0.757 1.016 0.782
Umberger 448:34 0.803 0.985 0.845
Brassard 441:22 1.359 0.860 0.930
Voracek 426:33 1.313 0.873 1.020
Malhotra 425:06 0.894 0.963 0.790

Nash played best when he was paired up with Voracek and Brassard and only Voracek, Brassard and Huselius made Nash a better offensive player when playing with him.  Vermette, Umberger and Malhotra were drags on his offensive numbers.  When playing apart, Voracek’s numbers are better than Nash’s.  Same for Brassard’s (who is doing it again this year, 0.782 GF20 vs Nash’s 0.613 when apart).  As an aside, the numbers suggest that Voracek is a very good offensive player  and it was probably a big mistake to trade him.  It also suggest that the Flyers aren’t getting full value from him by playing him primarily with Maxime Talbot.  If someone acquired Voracek and put him in the right situations, he could be the next Joffrey Lupul.

So, to summarize, yes Nash is a good offensive player who may put up better numbers playing with better offensive players but he is probably not an elite offensive forward.  Also, he isn’t a great defensive forward so offense really is what you get him for.  If I were Columbus I would be willing to trade him if I can get a quality NHL ready player capable of playing in their top 6 forwards, a top tier prospect and a first round pick.  If I were other teams, I would be very wary of over paying because he is not an elite player but he is paid like one ($7.8M cap hit for 6 more seasons).