Despite the rumors that exploded late last night and early this morning about Rick Nash submitting his retirement papers to the NHL, the veteran forward has not made a decision about his hockey playing future. Nash’s agent Joe Resnick reached out to Darren Dreger of TSN to report that nothing had changed, but Nash himself spoke to Aaron Portzline of The Athletic (subscription required) to explain the situation. Not going into details, Nash told Portzline that he is still experiencing side-effects from his last concussion and would wait until they subsided before making a decision.
Nash’s representatives told teams that he wouldn’t be signing with anyone in the July 1st frenzy, and now several months later has still not come to any final decision on his playing career. Concussions can having lasting effects on a player’s performance and off-ice life, and while Nash certainly still has the skill to play in the NHL there’s no telling what effect it would have on his health. Portzline believes that if Nash were to return to the league it would “almost certainly be with the [Columbus] Blue Jackets or one of five or six other teams he’s identified as Stanley Cup contenders.”
Scoring 21 goals last season split between the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins, Nash headed into the summer as one of the best free agent forwards on the market. In fact, he ranked sixth on our Top 50 Free Agents this offseason, and was easily the highest that remains unsigned. It’s hard to imagine a player that has been such a consistent goal scoring threat would be out of the league after his 13th 20-goal campaign, but it seems as though that is a very real possibility. Nash has 437 career regular season goals in his 1,060 games, and at one point was among the very best in the league at putting the puck in the net.
In fact, those 437 goals actually tie Nash with the great Pavel Bure for 67th all-time in NHL goal scoring. If he did sign, he’d be behind only Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Marleau among active players, and could pass several other Hall of Famers with an average season. The big, powerful winger won the Maurice Richard trophy once as the league’s top goal scorer and received Selke votes several times as one of the best defensive forwards.