Rick Nash Proving He Is the Real Deal for the New York Rangers

Tom Urtz Jr.Contributor IFebruary 13, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10:  Rick Nash #61 of the New York Rangers takes the puck as Martin St. Louis #26 of the Tampa Bay Lightning defends on February 10, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

When Rick Nash was traded to the New York Rangers on July 23, 2012, there was a mixture of emotions that included jubilance, anxiety, trepidation and worry about how he would adjust to New York.

Twelve games in to the Rangers' 2013 campaign, Nash is proving to be the real deal. Whenever a star comes to New York, they are put right in the spotlight, saddled with huge expectations and a target on their back.

Nash is doing a good job so far adjusting to a new system, new teammates and a city that expects great things from the start.

Through the Blueshirts' first 12 games, it is hard to say that Nash has not been one of the team's top players. He has been dynamic, strong, clutch and a great situational player.

If the Rangers take a penalty, Nash gets on the ice. If the Rangers need to score a goal, Nash is on the ice. Nash has been used in many different situations, and although he has only three goals through 12 games, he has made his linemates better.

Case in point, this magnificent highlight-reel assist to Carl Hagelin on Tuesday was so impressive that Scott Howson, the general manager that traded him away, was fired minutes later.

And then there was this goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in which Nash drives hard to the net going past player after player before putting the puck past Mathieu Garon.

The Rangers have arguably never had a player of this build and caliber while in their prime in the history of the franchise. It is a rare feat to have a player with size, speed, hands, skill and intelligence, and the Rangers have that in Nash.

The last Rangers forward that displayed these types of skills on a consistent basis was Jaromir Jagr, but he was older and more battled tested than Nash is right now.

While it will be important for Nash to start scoring more goals soon, his current play is allowing secondary scorers like Carl Hagelin to step up their games.

While Marian Gaborik and Nash remain the team's top snipers, players like Hagelin, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider and rookie J.T. Miller could be very valuable to the success of this team.

When you have multiple scoring threats throughout your lineup, it forces defenders to make choices about who to cover and put extra pressure on. If Hagelin happens to be that player right now, Nash has the speed and strength to create and finish on scoring chances.

With the Rangers starting to click on multiple levels on offense, Nash is ready to breakout and go on a goal-scoring tear. By Nash elevating the play of his linemates, defenders will now have to think twice while defending.

It is no longer a preordained fact that when in a scoring position, Nash will shoot, because he has shown that he is a great passer as well.

Nash's goals will come with time, but right now he is making a difference for the team, and the team is on a winning streak. He is a versatile player who knows his role, and he is doing what the team needs him to do right now.

As this video illustrates, Nash has amazing poise and hands, and it is moves like this that make Nash one of the league's top goal scorers.

With Derek Stepan playing with more confidence, Carl Hagelin finding his grove and Nash coming through for New York, don't be surprised if this lines goes on a tear during the rest of February.

Rick Nash has come as advertised, and one could argue that he has brought more than fans originally thought.

While the season is still young things are starting to look up for the Rangers and Nash continues to play a huge role in the team's success.