Columbus Blue Jackets make huge mistake by trading Rick Nash to the New York Rangers

Highway robbery. There’s no other way to say it. On Monday, July 23, the Columbus Blue Jackets gave the greatest player in team history to the New York Rangers for two role players, a prospect, and a 2013 first round draft pick. That’s the equivalent of trading a Ferrari for two Chevy Cavaliers, a Chevette, and a Ford Pinto.

Rick Nash meant everything to the Blue Jackets. The franchise was built around him for years. Everything on this team ran through the Nash, and it’s a travesty for him to be traded to the Rangers for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and what will likely be a late first rounder. The deal is one of the biggest mistakes made during general manager Scott Howson’s tenure with the Blue Jackets. He has just hamstrung this franchise for the next two or three years.

To put this trade in perspective, you have to look at the moving parts. Dubinsky has struggled with injuries and inconsistency throughout his career. Anisimov has been a steady performer since entering the NHL in 2009, but he’s never shown himself to be more than a standard run of the mill center.

Erixon is supposed to be the jewel of the deal for the Blue Jackets. However, his refusal to sign with the Calgary Flames when the team drafted him in 2009 has left him with a poor reputation. Erixon was eventually traded to the Rangers and played in only 18 games this season.

The question now becomes: Can he handle being traded to Columbus? Moreover, how does Erixon fit into the club’s plans after it spent much of the offseason solidifying the defense?  Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a fit for him on the roster. I don’t understand why the Blue Jackets would acquire a prospect who might not even have a role on the team next season.

Another problem I have with this trade is that the Jackets sent a conditional 2013 third round draft pick to the Rangers in the deal. That’s absolutely ridiculous. How can this team justify sending a valuable draft pick to New York when the deal was already one-sided in favor of the Rangers? If Howson is serious about building this team for the future, then throwing away draft picks shouldn’t even be an option.

The Blue Jackets had one opportunity to capitalize on a Rick Nash trade, and they threw it away. There’s simply no excuse for this deal. You don’t replace the heart and soul of your franchise with role players and a troubled prospect who might be playing in the minors next season. The Blue Jackets’ once strong offseason has now become a failure.

Derek Ciapala has been following the hometown Columbus Blue Jackets since the team joined the NHL for the 2000-2001 season. You can find him on Twitter @dciapala.