Rangers have several options with Rick Nash, but a long term extension shouldn’t be one
Rick Nash is arguably the best forward the Rangers have heading into the season. What is not arguable is he’s the oldest skater on the roster (33), with Henrik Lundqvist at 35, but in goal. While reports have surfaced that he and the Rangers haven’t really discussed an extension, a longterm one should be off the table.
On the Decline
The big man has had his moments for the Rangers. He has notched 127 goals in 315 games, and added a total of 224 points. Of course, his playoff scoring leaves a lot to be desired with only 14 goals in 73 playoff games with the Rangers. If you are looking for a silver lining like assists, don’t bother, as he only has 24.
No matter how you slice it, Rick Nash is on a decline. Advanced stats people like to go beyond goals and points in a year to breaking it down to average accumulated totals per 60 minutes of play. Got news for you, that doesn’t make him look much better.Last year, Nash enjoyed an uptick in his goal scoring compared to the previous season. It still was far below his career average. Nash’s p/60 chart looks like an EKG but as you can see his last 2 seasons were the worst of his career. Still to be fair, he’s considered productive when compared to similar wingers earning around 7.5M per year.
Age, Injury and Salary
The other major factor to not give him a longterm deal has to do with injuries. The 33 year old’s body is wearing down. Since 2013/14 when he hit age 29, Nash has only played over 70 games once (79 in 14/15). He has missed almost 20% of all regular season games during that time span. Why should we expect his body to be able to hold up to the grind past 35? We simply shouldn’t.
Also, with Nash due to become a UFA at the end of this season many teams will still find him very attractive. He most certainly won’t command 7.8M, but someone will very likely give him a 4 to 5 year deal upwards of $5M+.
What to Do?
I’ve been calling for the Rangers to move Rick Nash for a long time. The reasons being all stated above. Now the team is in a real predicament this year. We are possibly looking at a very competitive team that would require Nash to excel in order to win a Championship. Meaning, not trading him at the deadline and likely losing him for nothing next summer. A move that will be fine if the Rangers are rolling come the trade deadline.
It is unlikely the Rangers are willing to move him now, and rumors indicated they’ve tried and were not getting fair value. If Jeff Gorton can convince Nash to sign a 2 to 3 year extension at 4M per, then it could be a great move. That also requires Nash to leave money on the table at the end of his career. Something that would be difficult to do.
The bottom line is Nash is an integral piece this season. The best case scenario is the Rangers get big contributions from Zuccarello, Kreider, and Miller making Nash expendable and moveable at the deadline. More likely than not, the organization will opt to roll the dice and keep him for a Cup run. Which is fine, so long as they don’t hurt themselves and give him a long extension.
That is just not an option.