By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) - Persistence finally paid off for the New York Rangers as they landed high-scoring Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash on Monday as part of a seven-player trade that was five months in the making.
The 28-year-old face of the Columbus franchise was dealt to New York along with minor league defenseman Steven Delisle and a conditional third round draft pick in 2013 for forwards Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky, defensive prospect Tim Erixon and a first round draft pick in 2013.
"Rick is one of the better goal scorers in the NHL and he will help us immensely," Rangers General Manger Glen Sather said on a conference call. "This quality hockey player doesn't come along very often and you don't have a chance to make this kind of a deal."
Nash, the first overall draft pick by Columbus in 2002, has scored at least 30 goals in seven of his nine NHL seasons and will be expected to spark a Rangers offense that had difficulty scoring in the 2012 NHL playoffs.
The transaction was announced in separate statements by both teams months after the Rangers failed to land Nash at the trade deadline in February because the demands from Columbus general manager Scott Howson were considered too high by New York.
"Before the trade deadline we were pretty active in trying to get hold of Scott, I didn't want to make the deal that he wanted. And then I would give him some names back and he didn't accept what I was trying to trade to him," said Sather.
"It has been a continual process since before the trade deadline. I wouldn't say we talked every day, but we talked an awful lot."
Nash, who shared the league lead in goals when he scored a career-high 41 during the 2003-04 season, is a five-time NHL All-Star who has twice represented Canada at the Olympics and won a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
He was widely expected to be dealt during the NHL's current off-season since had originally asked the Blue Jackets to trade him prior to the trade deadline.
"It was a tough period of five months but the good thing is it's over and we can look forward to next year," said Nash.
"They're one of top teams in the league and the players that they have there are pretty impressive, from the goaltending to the defense right up. I am happy to be a part of the organization and part of the whole city."
Nash, who holds the Blue Jackets' franchise records for goals, assists and games played, had 30 goals and 29 assists last season on a Columbus team that finished last in the NHL.
The Rangers finished the 2011-12 regular season with the best record in the Eastern Conference but averaged just 2.15 goals during the playoffs and lost in the third round.
Anisimov, a second-round pick by New York in 2006, had 36 points in 79 games last season while Dubinsky, a second-round pick by New York in 2004, had 34 points in 77 games.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; editing by Ken Ferris and Pritha Sarkar)
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