One of the most surprising revelations of the last few weeks was a report that veteran winger Rick Nash had considered retirement after suffering another concussion late in the season with the Boston Bruins. That idea seemed to be fading as we heard reports of the Columbus Blue Jackets and other teams reaching out to Nash in the free agent interview period, but now Darren Dreger of TSN reports that the 34-year old forward has informed teams he will not sign on July 1st. Nash is still considering whether to play next season, and “didn’t want to further interfere” with the plans of teams looking to improve through free agency.
It’s a classy move by Nash to not make teams wait on him, but it still could throw a wrench into the offseason for some. Should Nash decide that he wants to continue—and all fans of the sport should hope that he remains healthy enough to do so—down the line, there may be little cap room available from some of his biggest suitors. He’s obviously resigned to the fact that he may be weakening his negotiation power by pushing off a decision, but one has to wonder whether he’ll be a late-summer addition to a playoff team. Like acquiring a player at the deadline, it could be a big boost to a team that has lost someone to injury during training camp or has seen a rival load up with key free agents.
Nash recorded the 13th 20-goal season of his career in 2017-18, registering 21 goals in 71 games split between the Bruins and New York Rangers. Though he’s obviously not the dominant offensive player of his youth, he can still skate well enough to contribute at both ends of the ice and remains an effective penalty killer. The fact that he struggled in the playoffs for the Bruins could be due to health concerns, but even then he was still a positive possession player for the team.
If it is the end of Nash’s career, he’ll go down as one of the better talents of his generation. In 1,060 games he recorded 437 goals and 805 points, won a Rocket Richard trophy for the first of three 40-goal seasons, and three times received Selke votes as one of the league’s best defensive forwards. Selected first-overall by Columbus in 2002, he didn’t see the second round of the playoffs until coming to New York, and was never able to lift the Stanley Cup.