GREENBURGH, N.Y. — At 32, Rick Nash is seven goals away from 400 in his NHL career. Plain and simple, he puts the puck into the net.
But Nash, who is on the cusp of his fifth season in New York, didn’t accomplish that enough last season — just 15 times in 60 games — and with a surplus of forwards in training camp, the veteran surprisingly said Friday said he believes he is in a battle to stay with the club.
As the Rangers re-tool, trade rumors have swirled around Nash — with the most prominent being a swap with St. Louis in exchange for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.
“For me, as I get to the tail end of my career, especially after the year I had last year, I have to show I belong on this team,” Nash said. “I can’t speak for other guys, but I truly feel that way. You look at the numbers and you have so many forwards, you know there’s going to be big moves that are going to be made. For me, I want to be a Ranger, I want to be in New York, so that’s all I’m worried about.”
Nash, who scored 42 goals in the 2014-15 season, but was sidelined for eight weeks with a broken bone in his leg last winter, said he “didn’t really feel 100 percent until later in the summer, but now it’s no excuses. I’m in my best shape yet. I don’t think it was a very good season for myself. I’m looking at this as a fresh start and a chance to prove myself, there’s a lot of young talent here. I don’t consider my job safe at all.”
After 13 years in the NHL — the first nine with the Columbus Blue Jackets — Nash understands what he needs to do to justify his $7.8 million cap charge.
“I do take pride in my defensive game, a lot of guys who score goals are minus players,” he said. “But I know why I get paid: to score goals. That’s what I do.”