When one thinks of Rick Nash, terms such as “#1 draft pick”, “consistent goal scorer”, and “a player to watch night in and night out” jump out.
Last season, he went through one of the toughest campaigns of his career with lingering concussion problems and trouble scoring goals, precisely what the Rangers acquired him for in the 2012 blockbuster with Columbus. In 2013-14, Nash played in only 65 games and had 26 goals and 39 points, modest for him and his lowest total since his rookie season in 2002-03. Nash has this season and four more years remaining on the 8-year $62.4 million contract he signed in 2010 with Columbus. With an average cap hit of $7.8 million, and just breaking 30 years of age, the time is now for Nash to produce.
So far this season, he’s answered the call.
Is Rick Nash’s Hot Start Sign of Things to Come?
With six goals and seven points in his first four games, including breaking a New York Rangers record for consecutive games with a goal (4), Nash looks like his old self and more importantly for the Rangers, looks healthy. The team has not gotten off to the start they had envisioned (1-3-0) and the depth of the team is being tested with top center Derek Stepan out with a broken leg and the wiley veteran Marty St. Louis having to take draws at the dot. This has called for stars to step up and Nash has added some top line scoring punch the Rangers need as they limp out of the gate.
The 30-year-old’s chemistry formed with the 39-year old St. Louis and up-and-coming winger Chris Kreider has jump-started his game, as Nash seems to be skating better, getting into more scoring areas to finish the work done to feed him the puck by his new linemates, and seems poised to bounce back from a playoff that saw him finish below expectations with three goals in 25 games.
If the results of Nash’s play so far are any indication, he is a man on a mission looking to prove his worth in a big city and hockey atmosphere of New York. The defending Eastern Conference champions certainly need a solid start while dealing with injuries and a schedule that is unforgiving, and Nash is doing his part to make sure Alain Vigneault’s crew stays within the playoff picture in the East as they recover.
For the case of this being a precident for the rest of the season, it certainly appears Nash has a chip on his shoulder and it would not be surprising for the 2003-04 Rocket Richard Winner to flirt with 40 goals by the time it’s all said and done for 2014-15. That depends on his health however, and if it holds up, the Rangers will have one less player to worry about in the goal-scoring department in their quest to go for Stanley again, because #61 looks like his old, superstar self.
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Rick Nash contract facts courtesy of capgeek.com
Nash Bio and Stats/awards courtesy of hockey DB.