Rick Nash has seen his goal and point production drop in the last two years, but there should be plenty of motivation for him to try to turn that around this season.
Nash, who turned 33 years old in June, is now in the final year of an eight-year, $62.4 million contract and is eligible to hit the open market at the end of the season.
It wasn’t that long ago, Nash, already an accomplished scorer, had wrapped up his best season ever in terms of goal production with 42. That number dropped by quite a bit — as did his shooting percentage, shots-on-goal total, and number of games played — to 15 goals the following season in 2015-16.
Read more: Rick Nash at career crossroads in contract year
Last season, which was again interrupted by injury, he scored 23 times, which is a step back in the right direction for the veteran forward.
He’s made it no secret that this contract year is significant for his future.
“Every year I want to have the best year possible. But this year, it’s an important year for me personally,” said Nash, per the New York Daily News. “It’s an important year for the Rangers, too. We still haven’t achieved that goal (winning the Stanley Cup) that we all want to achieve.”
The big question over the next few months will be about whether or not the Rangers decide to bring him back following this season. If they do, what will the price be? Nash has only twice in his 14-year career fallen short of the 20-goal mark, with that most recently occurring in 2015-16. But he will also be 34 years old when free agency opens again next July.
The Rangers have already started the transition of getting younger and faster, and, following another playoff loss, the offseason produced more changes to the roster with the buyout of Dan Girardi and the trade of Derek Stepan.
“It’s sports,” said Nash, per the New York Post. “That’s what happens with contracts — your contract is up and you play for another contract. That’s what I’m facing this year.”