This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.
Columbus Blue Jackets
1. Rick Nash (545)
2. Sergei Bobrovsky (135)
3. Marian Gaborik (54)
The overwhelming selection of Nash as the franchise’s greatest player is hardly surprising. Columbus had the first overall pick in their third draft (2002) and used it to select Nash. In the decade that followed he was the face of the franchise.
The young franchise didn’t have much success during Nash’s tenure and struggled to find capable linemates for him, but Nash was effective in spite of that, reaching or surpassing the 30-goal milestone in seven of his nine seasons in Columbus.
He is by far the team’s leader in goals scored with 289 (the next highest is R.J. Umberger at 120) and also holds the franchise records for games played, assists, and points.
Nash became the team captain in 2008 and seemingly committed to spending his career with Columbus by agreeing to an eight-year, $62.4 million contract. However, in the second season of that deal he demanded a trade and his request was fulfilled during the summer of 2012. At the time, the future looked bleak for the Blue Jackets, but they rebounded quickly and earned their first playoff win in 2014.
He’ll likely go down as a player that helped give the team an identity early in their history, but it would be good news for the Blue Jackets if a decade from now, Nash wasn’t still running away with the title of the franchise’s greatest player.
Bobrovsky is the team’s new MVP and if he has sustained success in Columbus, then he might surpass Nash in these types of votes. The fact that Gaborik, who is a great player, but had a shaky tenure with Columbus, ranked third speaks to the need for the team’s young forwards to prove themselves. Ryan Johansen certainly took a step in that direction when he scored 33 goals and 63 points last season.
So while Nash is the undisputed winner of this poll, the real question is if that will still be the case if we do it again in 2024.