31-Year-Old Left Wing – New York Rangers
Rick Nash Contract Information:
Signed an eight-year, $62.4 million extension with the Blue Jackets in July of 2009.
Nash tallied the Rangers' lone goal on a second-period power play in Wednesday's 5-1 loss to Montreal.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Despite his team-leading nine game-winning goals in 2013-14, Nash managed 39 points in 65 regular season games played last season, his worst offensive output since his rookie campaign. He didn’t exactly eliminate concerns about his downturn in performance in the playoffs, as his two goals in 25 games amounted to a futile showing for a skater who has long been viewed as one of the league’s preeminent goal scorers. With his hands and legs now entering their 30s, expectations for Nash have probably been lowered by his employer, and should be for fantasy owners in most formats as well. Even so, while it's entirely possible the former first-overall pick in the 2002 draft is beginning his decline, it's much more likely he shows up in camp with a chip on his shoulder and provides owners with good value in the middle rounds this year.
For all intents and purposes, the Rangers' most prized signing last winter had a productive (21 goals, 21 assists) first season on Broadway, finishing second in team scoring. Nash, who went pointless in more than three consecutive games just once last season, set a new career high with a 10-game point streak. More comfortable with his surroundings, Nash and the rest of his teammates are now set to learn a new system under head coach Alain Vigneault. Since the team announced Vigneault would be at the helm, consensus comparisons to the Sedin twins have been aplenty, suggesting Nash could flourish under the new system. Conservatively speaking, Nash remains a top winger option and will likely get taken within the first two or three rounds of your draft.
Nash racked up another 30-goal season (the sixth time in eight NHL seasons he's reached that mark, and a total the big, dominating winger could probably hit in his sleep) but once again left Blue Jackets' fans and his owners feeling just a little bit cheated. The physical aspect of his game continues to erode, and he set a career low in PIMs with 34 last season, but the acquisition of Jeff Carter means that for the first time in Nash's career he'll actually be lining up with another Blue Jacket of a similar caliber and skill level. Both players tend to be shoot-first offensive forces, so there's some question as to whether they'll be able to co-exist on the same line, but if they click Nash will be taking dead aim at breaking his personal bests of 41 goals and 79 points.
Nash and the Blue Jackets carried high hopes into 2009, coming off the organization's first-ever playoff appearance, but neither performed up to expectations. As in previous years, Nash was saddled with a rotating cast of line mates who weren't great complements for his blend of power and skill. While his final numbers (33 goals and 67 points) were well within the margin of error he seemed to disappear for stretches, including an 11-game post-Christmas goalless streak. 40+ goals and 85+ points is always going to be a tantalizing possibility for Nash, especially if new coach Scott Arniel opens up the offense more than Ken Hitchcock ever allowed, but he needs more help before he'll break through to that next level consistently.
Nash's first full season as the captain went better than anyone could have expected. Not only did the Blue Jackets' tower of power lead the club to its first playoff berth, but Nash also set a career high with 79 points in 78 games and collected his second 40-goal season. He showed good chemistry with rookie center Derick Brassard before Brassard got hurt, and if Brassard can stay in one piece this time Nash might finally have a regular center capable of helping him achieve the heights at which his prodigious talent has always hinted. Pencil him in for another 40-goal, 80-point campaign, but at just 25 years old those numbers should be viewed as his floor and not his ceiling.
Of all the decisions that have been made in the Blue Jackets’ history, none have turned out better than the one to trade up and nab Nash first overall in the 2002 draft. Named team captain after the deadline deal that sent Adam Foote back to Colorado, Nash played in 80 games last season and just missed his second 40-goal campaign while setting a career high with 69 points. If he has a real center to feed him the puck Nash would be a threat for 50 tallies, but even when he’s all but alone on the ice Nash can still dominate (as he showed with his incredible January game winner against the Coyotes that you’ve probably seen in highlight reels a million times since). His physical play makes him susceptible to nagging injuries, but otherwise Nash is the rock-solid foundation of whatever future success Columbus has.
Nash had a disappointing ’06-’07, playing in 75 games despite a series of injuries (ankle, groin, back spasms) but scoring only 27 goals, although he did set a career high with 30 assists. He scored at a point-a-game pace in March however once he was fully healthy, and dominated the World Championships in May as he led Team Canada to a perfect record in the tournament and earned MVP honors. Despite having the size, strength and talent to be the best power forward in the NHL, Nash’s fantasy ceiling is limited by the fact that the Blue Jackets don’t have an assist machine at center to set him up. Assuming he can stay on the ice, expect Nash to rebound back to the 35-40 goal level and break through into the 70 point range.
Despite missing a third of the season due to an ankle injury suffered in the preseason and a knee injury suffered after his return, Nash still managed to score 31 goals last year. Now healthy, he figures to challenge for the Rocket Richard Trophy once again as the league’s top goal scorer, especially if a reliable center can be found for Nash and David Vyborny, his usual right winger. Draft him for 50+ goals and 80+ points.
In just his second season in the NHL, the 20-year-old Nash exploded for a league-leading 41 goals and a share of the Rocket Richard trophy. He's now two years older, two years in which he tore up every international ice surface he skated on. As hockey's next great power forward the sky's the limit on his career, but for this season try to draft him for another 40+ goals (and 75+ points) with the knowledge that 50 and 90 are potentially within reach.