Blue Jackets lock up Rick Nash

The 21-year-old will earn $3.5 million US this season.

The Columbus Blue Jackets signed winger Rick Nash to a five-year, $27-million US contract on Monday.

The 21-year-old native of Brampton, Ont., will earn $3.5 million this season, $4.5 million in 2006-07, $5.5 million in 2007-08, $6.5 million in 2008-09 and $7 million in 2009-10.

"In my opinion, Rick Nash is the best young player in the world and I am thrilled for Rick, our organization and our fans that he is going to remain a Blue Jacket," said Columbus general manager Doug MacLean. "At 21 years of age, he has established himself as a true superstar in the game.

"He is a supremely talented player on the ice and a tremendous person off it. I believe our team is poised to take a major step and Rick is certainly going to play a significant role as our franchise continues to grow."

The first overall pick in the 2002 NHL draft, Nash scored 41 goals in 2003-04 – his second NHL season – to finish tied with Calgary's Jarome Iginla and Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk as the league's top goal-scorer.

"Hopefully we'll get back to having 50-goal scorers again," Nash said in reference to the promise of a more open game in the NHL this season.

Nash played in Switzerland during the NHL lockout, guiding HC Davos to the Swiss league championship.

In 44 games for Davos, Nash scored 26 goals and added 20 assists playing on a line with Boston Bruins centre Joe Thornton.

"Physically I've matured and mentally I've matured," Nash said. "And playing with a guy like Joe Thornton all year, I feel that really helped. To hang out with him all year, I think it changed me as a player."

Nash also is excited about MacLean's signing of defencemen Adam Foote and Bryan Berard so far this off-season.

"I couldn't think of a better free agent to pick up than Adam Foote," Nash said. "I know I hate playing against the guy. I'm lucky now that he'll be behind me and not in front of me.

"And with Bryan Berard, with the rule changes, we need a guy like that who can make that first pass and that long pass with no red line."

As a 19-year-old, Nash became the youngest player in NHL history to lead the league in goals and was the first teenager since Edmonton's Jimmy Carson in 1987-88 to score 40 goals in a season.

Nash also led the Blue Jackets with 57 points in 2003-04.

He helped Canada earn a silver medal at the 2005 world hockey championship in Austria, leading the tournament in goals (9), finishing second in points (15) and being named to the tournament all star team.

Below is a summary of Monday's NHL movements:

  • The NHL reinstated suspended Vancouver Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi, effective immediately.

  • The Canucks also signed Korean-born defenceman Richard Park to a one-year contract worth $750,000 US.

  • The Anaheim Mighty Ducks agreed with defenceman Jason Marshall on a one-year pact.

  • The Atlanta Thrashers signed forwards Ramzi Abid, Scott Barney and Eric Boulton.

  • The Boston Bruins hired Wayne Cashman and Norm Maciver as assistant coaches as well as goaltender consultant Bob Essensa.

  • The Buffalo Sabres inked forward Mike Grier for one year at $1.4 million US.

  • The Carolina Hurricanes reached terms on a one-year contract with forward Matt Cullen.

  • The Columbus Blue Jackets re-signed forward Rick Nash to a five-year, $27-million US contract.

  • The Detroit Red Wings brought back goaltender Chris Osgood for the 2005-06 season at a cost of $900,000 US.

  • The Los Angeles Kings agreed to terms on a one-year deal with Eric Belanger.

  • The Minnesota Wild inked goaltender Miroslav Koprova.

  • The Philadelphia Flyers reportedly signed forward Simon Gagne for one year at $2 million US.

  • The Phoenix Coyotes confirmed Wayne Gretzky as head coach.

  • The San Sharks re-signed defencemen Rob Davison and Jim Fahey to one-year contracts.

  • The Washington Capitals inked forwards Ben Clymer and Miroslav Zalesak.

    with files from CP Online