The past few seasons have not been kind to Rick Nash. While Nash has been happy to make over $24MM for his services over the course of the past two seasons and 2017-18, he has done so without much fair value returning to the New York Rangers. The three-time 40-goal scorer, who inked an eight-year, $62.4MM deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets back in 2009 before being traded to New York in 2012, has never found much high-level success with the Rangers outside of a Hart Trophy-caliber campaign in 2014-15. Since then, however, Nash has seasons of 36 and 38 points respectively and is on pace for another sub-40 point campaign again this year, scoring even less frequently than the Boston Bruins’ Riley Nash for example. At a cap hit of $7.8MM, the veteran forward has been more of a drain on the Rangers’ cap space than an asset to the club. As an impending free agent, his future is very much up in the air.
Nash’s struggles have been magnified of late, as Larry Brooks of the New York Post writes, by an ongoing scoring drought and his demotion from the team’s top power play unit. Brooks opines that Nash’s declining production over the past few years has all but canceled out his value as a veteran and leader. Brooks doubts that the Rangers would get much in return should they make the impending UFA available at the coming trade deadline. If so, wouldn’t it make more sense for the Rangers to retain a familiar player for a playoff run rather than part with him for a cheap return?
Nash seems unlikely to move at the deadline and may even stay in New York beyond this season. As Brooks writes, “Nash has been a good player for the Rangers but not the game-breaker management anticipated in sending Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, a first-rounder and Tim Erixon to the Jackets over the summer of 2012. He was supposed to be the missing piece. Instead, he missed his chance…” Brooks complaint is not with the quality of Nash’s play, but his performance relative to the pieces given up to get him and, of course, the price the team pays to have him on the roster. Yet, with the opportunity to re-sign Nash this summer for a much lower price, that stigma will be gone; it would be a fresh start, but with the same team. It’s the same sentiment that TSN’s Darren Dreger echoed recently, when he said that Nash would prefer to stay in New York and the Rangers would like to keep him. Dreger adds that extension talks have not been started, but all signs point to Nash staying with the Blueshirts through 2017-18 and perhaps even beyond.