Rick Nash Still Carries Value, Not Worth $7.8 Million


New York Rangers star forward Rick Nash has been the subject of various trade rumors this offseason, which is not surprising given his weak showing in the postseason (again). It seems fans are fed up with Nash and his lack of playoff production, as well as his $7.8 million salary. Fans have had enough and want him gone.

I get it; Nash is set to make $7.9 million this upcoming season, and then $8 million and $8.2 million in the last two years of his contract. So, the price to keep him will only go up. But will he live up to that contract? I am going to guess that a majority of fans may think he has never lived up to the mega contract the New York Rangers put together to get him from Columbus.

In a way, I agree. When Nash first came to New York I was extremely excited to see what he would do under the bright lights of the city. He had a decent first year in New York, posting 42 points in 44 games (that’s almost a point per game). The next year, he took a bit of a dip, recording 39 points in 65 games (sophomore slump of some kind?).

But this year, he really broke out. Nash really looked like he would lead the team to the Stanley Cup. He was on fire, scoring 42 goals and recording 27 assists in 79 games. Everything was looking good and then the postseason rolled around.

"In 60 NHL playoff games — four with Columbus — he has 10 goals. In his first postseason opportunity in the Big Apple he had a single goal, in his second he had three, and this past year, five — although one was a pointless last second goal in the waning seconds of a loss against Pittsburgh. These numbers are disturbing considering Nash is paid a cool $7.8 million AAV to score goals and not just in the regular season, but in the spring when it matters most. —Along the Boards"

OK, so that’s bad.

In reality, fans should be at least partly happy that Nash is a Ranger; he was a major reason the team won the Presidents’ Trophy. But, we all know, after 82 games nobody remembers what happens in the regular season; all that matters is what happens in May and June. And believe me, fans sure do remember how Nash failed to make a statement this (and every past) postseason.

So the question is, are the Rangers better off with him or without him?

Here’s the thing. I know everyone is calling for his head and I have even been caught saying “You’re paying him $7.8 million to play like that?” but Nash is a really great hockey player.

He brings a big body to the Rangers, which they don’t have (wish he’d throw it around a bit more). He knows how to generate offense and has completely revamped his defensive game. He is now an integral part of the team’s penalty kill. Nash is also a creative forward, who can act as a playmaker in the offensive zone and pretty much any other zone on the ice for that matter. He’s got great speed, as well as great hands. He went first overall in the 2002 draft for a reason.

Do I think, if the Rangers traded him, that the team would miss his offense? Yes. (And now, I think they would miss his defense too.) But consider this:

"But, interestingly enough, the past five Stanley Cup winners haven’t had a player with more than 30 goals during the regular season. Milan Lucic led the Bruins with 30 in 2011, and Anze Kopitar had a mere 25 in 2012 for the Kings. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews had 23 each in the shortened season that put them on a pace for 36 apiece, so there’s that. However, Kopitar had only 29 in 2014 when Los Angeles won their second ring and Toews led Chicago last year and only potted 28. —Along the Boards"

I think this is a testament to the way the hockey has changed. Yes, they are superstars, but the focus of great hockey teams has shifted to the supporting cast. It isn’t just about Toews, Nash, or Kopitar, it is also about the people around them that are making them better.

This statistic could also make fans want him to go even more (unloading the superstar= gaining depth pieces). The key word in that equation is depth. That is what hockey is all about now. Teams that have a deep lineup are better suited to hoist the Stanley Cup than those with a couple of “elite” players. Superstars are no longer as necessary as role players, most of which don’t carry such a high cap hit.

You know trading Nash would give the Rangers high-quality players, picks and/or prospects in return. He is in no way a bust (his regular season numbers prove that) and would be considered a hot commodity if the Rangers decided to start shopping him. It would also open a lot of cap space for the Rangers (especially if they didn’t have to retain any of his salary). Those are all reasons to let Nash go.

More from Editorials

I do honestly believe that Nash brings a lot of value to the Rangers, but his salary is his biggest downside. The Rangers need to beef up their lineup with more depth (and that doesn’t come cheap). They need to be able to put together at least three really good lines, instead of one powerhouse line. Evenly distributing talent throughout the lines will give the Rangers a better chance at ending their Cup drought (it’s been a really long time).

I don’t see Nash leaving the Rangers, at least not this summer. Not because the team’s management is afraid of making a splash, but because I just don’t believe any of the rumors out there to hold any water. They just don’t seem plausible.

Will Nash live out the rest of his three-year contract in a Rangers jersey? Well, the answer to that question is entirely in his hands.

Next: New York Rangers 2015: State of Team

More from Puck Prose