We finally make our way into the top five of the best Rangers of the past decade by showcasing a player that was a big ticket acquisition coming from Columbus to try and lead the Rangers to the promised land.
#5: Rick Nash
Career as a Ranger: 2012-2018
Numbers as a Blueshirt over the Decade: 145 goals, 107 assists for 252 points in 375 games played (2.45 Pts/60). 51.04 CF% (2.44 C/60), 51.72 xGF% (0.18 xG/60). 37.4 GAR, 7.1 WAR
Best season as a Ranger: 2014-15: 42 goals, 27 assists for 69 points
The story of Rick Nash’s Rangers career is one of opporunities both gained and lost. When the Rangers traded Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and a 2013 1st round pick for the big winger they were getting a player that was tired of the losing ways in Columbus. The Blue Jackets were the team that drafted and developed Nash and failed to build a team around him in the 9 years he was there, so Nash was looking for a change. He wanted to win and the Rangers, a team that is always on the lookout to add a big gun, were more than happy to bring him in, no matter the cost.
Rick Nash began his Rangers tenure skating on a line with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik during the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, a season that saw Nash put up 42 points in 44 games, a solid debut on Broadway. That season, though, was the end of the John Tortorella era in New York as the Rangers were bounced out of the playoffs by the Boston Bruins with the big man only picking up five points in 12 postseason games. Nash had his first season in New York under his belt and already there was a new coach coming in and with Alain Vigneaut came a much different style and mindset.
In 2013-14 the Rangers reached new highs under AV, however Nash played only 65 games that season as he suffered a concussion early in the campaign that limited his production picking up just 39 points in those 65 games. As the Rangers pushed further into the playoffs that season, Nash’s production struggles continued as he put up just 10 points in the 25 game run that saw the Rangers get all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. While the production wasn’t there for Nash, he continued to be a monster on the forecheck and all around the ice as, more often then not, the puck was going in the right direction when he was out there.
So; Nash had a solid debut in New York, and a concussion hampered 2nd season so there were questions as to what was left in the tank as the Ontario born forward approached his age 30 season. Well, turns out there was a lot left in the tank as Nash went on to have his best season since the 08-09 campaign as he went on to put up 69 points in 79 games, leading the Rangers to the President’s Trophy and looking like a team that was about to get to it’s 2nd consecutive Stanley Cup Final especially as Nash looked to shake off his poor playoff reputation as he broke out with 14 points in 19 post-season games.
In retrospect, the 2014-15 season seems like the last, best push for the Rangers. Nash was healthy, scoring both in the regular season and the playoffs. Unfortunate injuries though hampered the Rangers throughout the run and it fell just short. The next couple of seasons saw more injuries for Ricky in New York, including at least one more concussion that we knew about, and those injuries and time took their toll on Nash’s production. Through it all, though, Nash remained a strong possession player up and down the Rangers lineup and as the Rangers looked to rebuild during the 2017-18 season Nash found himself dealt to the Boston Bruins where he’d go on one last playoff run before hanging up the skates at just 34 years old.
Favorite moment as a Ranger: It was early in the 2015-16 season, the Rangers made a stop down to Sunrise in November. Nash decided to have himself one of those “I am better than all of you” games, probably his last of the kind.