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The Rangers Are Where Rick Nash Wants To Be

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The Rangers’ veteran winger wants to remain with the team beyond this season.

Boston Bruins v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It is still early, but Rick Nash is certain that he wants to remain with the New York Rangers past this season. Remaining with the Rangers is his first choice, and he even went as far to say “this is where I want to be. This is home.”

This update came via Larry Brooks in which he talked about the fact that Nash’s status as an impending free agent has caused some speculation about his future. The Rangers’ alternate captain is in the final year of an eight-year deal worth $62.4 million signed on July 3, 2009 when Nash was a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Rangers acquired Nash three years and 20 days later by sending Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a 2013 first-round draft choice.

If the Rangers re-sign Nash it is certainly going to be way under the $7.8 million he is making now, and there are some merits to retaining him. Nash has 133 goals since joining the Rangers which is good enough for 15th in the league.

When sorted for even strength, Nash’s 88 goals are 12th overall and his goals per 60 of 1.21 is fourth among skaters with at least 500 minutes according to Corsica.

What happens with Nash will likely be tied to the standings, but unless the Rangers plan on dramatically upgrading their roster Nash should be traded regardless. As constructed the Rangers are not an elite Stanley Cup contender, but they do have a lot of the pieces in place.

With that knowledge the team should be as aggressive as possible toward putting together a squad that can kick down the doors in 2018-19. Given that the Rangers know they are Nash’s No. 1 destination, it would behoove them to find him an ideal rental spot for him to try and recoup some assets before eventually re-signing him.

Nash would likely draw at least a first-round draft pick, and based on last year’s deals he could draw even more. For example, the Arizona Coyotes netted a 2017 first-rounder, a 2018 second-rounder, a 2019 conditional pick and prospect for Martin Hanzal, Ryan White and a 2017 fourth-rounder.

That was quite a haul for a player who was bound to hit free agency. Nash is a much better player than Hanzal, and as such would command a quality return even though he’s likely to return to the Rangers.

Nash likely would see the wisdom in this scenario, and would play ball if that’s the road the Rangers decide to go down. This scenario is comparable to what the New York Yankees did with Aroldis Chapman, although Nash has significantly less value. In this situation Nash gets his dream of remaining with the Rangers for the long term, and the team recoups some assets in the process.

The other side of the coin sees the Rangers sign Nash to an extension, and in that situation it would likely cost the team a minimum of $4 million for two to three years. The basis of this number comes from the three-year, $10.5 million deal signed in July of 2016 by former Rangers Eric Staal.

Nash turns 34 in June, and such a deal would take him to age 36 or 37. This is the more likely of the two scenarios, and it isn’t hard to see why.

Nash is no longer the goal scorer he was in the peak of his career, but he has found ways to contribute when he isn’t scoring. He has become an ace PK guy and all-around two-way forward who can create offense by defending. He still will score a highlight reel goal from time to time, and doesn’t shy away from going to the net.

Fans get on Nash for his inability to score in the playoffs, but to his credit he has 23 points in his last 36 playoff games. It isn’t everything that was expected, but he’s worked hard at making up for his early shortcomings.

The bottom line is that Nash loves being a Ranger and by all accounts it sounds like he’d like this to be his final team. How him and the Rangers navigate this request remains to be seen. There are certainly pros and cons to the situations presented, and there will be a resolution at a time in which the present and future state of the team is clearer.