DALLAS — It appears that Rick Nash’s run with the Rangers might come to an end sooner than expected.
The winger — who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, has a no-move clause that prevents him from being put on waivers and also has a modified no-trade clause — confirmed before the Rangers’ 2-1 loss to the Stars on Monday night that he was asked by management to submit a list of teams to which he would agree to be sent. The NHL trade deadline is Feb. 26, and he could be just the first Ranger who will be leaving.
“It’s disappointing,’’ Nash, 33, said after the morning skate. “I love being a Ranger. I love being in New York. It’s just that things happen when your team doesn’t win. They have to make business decisions, but it’s disappointing.
“When I got asked, I was definitely in shock at first. You expect it’s going to happen, but you don’t know the feeling until it actually happens when they ask you to submit a list. My one goal is to win a Cup with the Rangers and have a successful season for the Rangers, so it’s unfortunate — the business side of it — and when you’re asked to make a list, you think of the teams that have the best chance [to win a Cup].”
A dozen teams are on the list, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, who first tweeted about the issue Monday and said the list was submitted Sunday. Nash can block a trade to the 18 other NHL teams or waive the clause.
Although there was no official word on the 12 teams that Nash listed as possible trade partners, the speculation on Monday centered on four teams that might be fits: the Dallas Stars, the San Jose Sharks, the Nashville Predators and the St. Louis Blues. It is believed that Nash does not want to play for a Canadian team.
During the NHL lockout in the 2012-13 season, Nash and Sharks center Joe Thornton played in Davos, Switzerland. Stars coach Ken Hitchcock was behind the bench when Nash played for Columbus and is credited with making the young star a better two-way player. The Predators and Blues are looking for forward depth.
Nash has 15 goals and 10 assists in 52 games this season. About $2.6 million remains on his cap charge for the season, so teams will be interested in him as a rental.
Nash will take his family into consideration when the time comes to move on. “When you go through certain things . . . about where you’re going to end up, you think about your family and your kids and the best situation to win, ’’ he said.
“I have no idea how I’m going to explain to my son [McLaren, 3] that he can’t cheer for the Rangers. That definitely went through my head,” he said. “Every time he sees a goal, he starts singing the song. It’s tough, but it’s reality.”
Nash was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets on July 23, 2012, and waived his no-move clause back then.
He has played 368 regular-season games and 73 playoff games for the Rangers. He has 142 goals and 107 assists in six seasons.
Suiting up with the potential of a trade looming will be difficult, Nash said, but “I’ve been here for six years now. These guys mean a lot to me. You’ve got to be a professional about it. You’ve got to understand that it’s a business and even though it [expletive], you’ve got to show up, put your work boots on and play for the guys in this room.”
Coach Alain Vigneault said he is sure Nash will continue to work hard and contribute despite any potential trade. “Rick’s a pro, and he’s going to play,’’ he said. “I’m not concerned about that at all.”
Said Nash, “When you lose games, you know that things are going to change. I’ve been on the other end of this a lot of times. I’ve seen guys go through it. Now it’s my turn, and it’s not fun.”
Rick Nash was a more productive offensive player in his nine seasons as a Blue Jacket, but he has been more responsible defensively as a Ranger. His career numbers in Columbus and New York:
Rangers Blue Jackets
130-Goal Seasons 7
+67 Plus-minus -71