There have been several reports that some variation of the package the Rangers sent to Columbus for Rick Nash on Monday was on the negotiating table for months before the deal was finally consummated. But Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, who is one of the more clued in reporters in the business, tweeted that defensive prospect Tim Erixon was in fact only added to the deal last week. Portzline added that there was “no question” that Shea Weber’s offer sheet with Philadelphia pushed the Rangers to sweeten their offer and include Erixon.
That nugget drew little attention in light of all the other subplots surrounding the blockbuster trade, but if Portzline’s report is correct, then that tells us even more about GM Glen Sather’s negotiating tactics over the last few months.
It’s likely that Erixon was substituted in for another lesser prospect, but it’s somewhat remarkable that Sather believed he could pry Nash away from Columbus without even including the organization’s top prospect, a player that virtually every pundit in the galaxy assumed would be part of any big deal the Rangers completed this offseason.
Sather demonstrated remarkable patience throughout the tedious negotiating process and it now seems obvious that he was entirely convinced all along that Columbus GM Scott Howson would eventually cave in and that Nash would end up a Ranger.
Rumors circulated throughout the process that other teams were going hard after Nash, but Sather must have been supremely confident that the 28-year-old was never going to consider expanding his list of approved destinations and that the Rangers were really Howson’s only logical option for a trade partner.
We’ll never know what went on behind closed doors for the last few months, but it is now apparent that Sather was fully aware that his hand could not be beat.
That being the case, maybe Howson deserves a bit more credit for holding out for Erixon. Though most in the hockey community feel that Howson got a poor return for Nash, a package of only Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, a first-round pick and a lesser prospect would have been ripped on a far greater scale.
It’s very likely that Erixon will be the best future Blue Jacket of the bunch. So though Sather had “balls as big as the building” throughout the negotiating process, maybe Howson really didn’t do badly considering the uphill battle he has been fighting since early spring.