What should the Rangers do with Rick Nash?

Rick Nash (CAL SPORT MEDIA/ZUMA PRESS)

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The Rangers have a handful of expensive contracts on their books, and one of them is coming to an end at the end of this season. Rick Nash will be in the final year of his $7.8 million deal when the puck drops on the 2017-18 NHL season. He will be 34 next summer and is most likely already on the “back nine” of his career. And if the Rangers want to really get this team moving in a different direction, they should let the power forward go to free agency when the time comes.

Nash has struggled the last few years with injury problems that have kept him out of the lineup in three of the last four years. He suffered a concussion after an elbow from Brad Stuart at the beginning of the 2013 season. In the 2014 season, Nash was able to play 79 games and returned to the superstar level that the Rangers expected when they acquired him. But the following year, Nash had to deal with muscle spasms that caused him to miss a quarter of the Rangers season. And this season, he had to deal with a nagging groin injury.

And because of these injury issues, his production has slipped significantly. Now, that can be expected as a player nears the end of his career. But for Nash, he went from producing around 60 points or more per year in Columbus to 40 points at a maximum in three of his five seasons with the Blueshirts. 

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So what can the Rangers do with their alternate captain? Well, not much actually. Nash has both a full no-move clause and a modified no-trade clause in his contract. Meaning that he can’t be waived or sent down to the minors (not that he’d be anyway) without his consent, and he can only be traded to the twelve teams he selects. Even if Nash has a renaissance year with the Blueshirts and puts up huge offensive numbers, he isn’t going to want to take a pay cut in his next contract. As I said before, Nash is making $7.8 million this year and for it to make sense for the Rangers, that number would have to go down to somewhere in the $4-5.5 million range.

This will, in all likelihood, be Rick Nash’s curtain call season on Broadway. He has done a good job in his time with the Rangers but never reached his full capabilities. He showed signs of the power forward he once was this season but wasn’t able to convert on many of his chances. Nash will be looking to show the Rangers, and the rest of the NHL, what he can do in this contract year. But what he won’t be doing, is suiting up for the Rangers after the 2017-18 season.