Rick Nash is No Longer a Scorer

 

Rick Nash was the Columbus Blue Jackets first overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Since coming into the league Nash has had three 40 goal seasons, played in six All-Star games and has won two gold medals. While in Columbus Nash signed a 8 year contract at the age of 25. Today at the age of 33 years, Nash still carries a $7.8 million cap hit.

That trip down memory lane was to remind everyone that; 1) the New York Rangers did not sign Nash to the contract and the trade was worth it 2) the contract; at the time; was a good contract for the player Nash was. Today anytime the power forward goes scoreless he is immediately said to be in a slump.

Going into the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins; Nash has 13 points in 26 games. Considering the opportunities Nash has had this season, this could easily be 5 points lower than it should. Blame it on puck luck or scoring droughts if you must. The reality is that Rick Nash is just not a goal scorer anymore and that is still ok.

Lost his fastball

Once upon a time Rick Nash was able to dangle through defenders like they were cones. At one point he was a superstar talent and a human highlight reel. Currently Nash can still dance around defenders but it usually just leads to possession in the offensive zone. He is no longer the 1-on-1 threat he used to be. This does not mean he can’t score or be flashy; he just isn’t who he once was.

Rick Nash, is the New York Rangers version of C.C. Sabathia; bear with me here. Both players at the time signed contracts that fit their talent level and player type. Both players have had to deal with tough injuries; and most importantly both players are a shell of what they once were.

Nash, much like Sabathia, is a product of underperforming compared to his contract. The New York Yankees relied on Sabathia late this past season as he learned to reinvent his game. A former hard throwing left hander had to learn how to change speeds and locations. Rick Nash has been learning how to reinvent his game the last two seasons.

Nash has become one of the best two way forwards on the Rangers. When he arrived Nash was still a 40 goal scorer. He had a 40 goal season came in 2014-15 (42) and he scored 21 in the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, which is a roughly on pace for high 30s.

Today Rick Nash is around a 25 goal scorer. To put that in perspective Michael Grabner had 27 last year, is he actually a goal scorer? The answer no.

Feast or Famine

Puck luck has really not been on Rick Nash’s side this season. Many times a post, a knob of the goalie’s stick or the slightest thing has stopped Nash from putting the puck in the net. I personally don’t see this to be a scoring drought or a slow start to the season. I see a player who still has a scoring ability but is a two way player.

Not every stretch of games Nash goes scoreless is a slump. No. 61 may not end up on the score sheet every game but every game he does something to help the team win. Rick Nash is no longer a scorer, but he has adapted his game to be a vital player for the New York Rangers both offensively and defensively.

It’s time we stop expecting him to turn back the clock and accept who he is today; a top six forward that takes the body, kills penalties and does whatever it takes to win.