With several NHL seasons under his belt and his 30th birthday coming up fast, Riley Nash knew his free-agent decision this summer would be an important one in his career.
After a successful stint with the Boston Bruins, he decided that his best course of action would be to capitalize on the expanded role he enjoyed in the second half of the 2017-18 season, one that resulted in his career high in goals and points.
Now with a three-year deal from the Blue Jackets signed July 1, Nash wants to bring a little veteran experience but also remain comfortable in his game and what he can add to a team that's been close the last few years.
"I'm obviously 29 now, so at this point in your career...after being in the playoffs for a couple of years, you're not getting any younger," Nash said while meeting the Columbus media last week at Nationwide Arena. "You want to go to a team that's trending in the right direction. I played against Columbus over the last couple of years, and you can see just the way they're going, and the way they're trending.
"They have the foundation in place. The last four or five years, they've built to a playoff team every year. Last year, they're two games away from beating the Capitals and they go on to win the Stanley Cup. I'm definitely not going to come here and shake it up; I'll try to add a little different perspective on some things."
The Blue Jackets are coming off back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in club history, but the most recent postseason venture has everyone feeling a little sour. They took a 2-0 lead on the Washington Capitals in the opening round, only to fade fast in a 4-2 series defeat that propelled the Capitals to a championship run.
Nash comes from a Bruins organization where success is expected. Now with the Blue Jackets, he's joining a team that's no longer just happy to be in the playoffs – they're ready to break down the door and take a step forward. Being part of that was enticing as he considered his options.
"I think they're right on the cusp, and hopefully I can bring a little bit extra – and I think everyone else's experience as well will help us get over the hump," Nash said.
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