Nash inks 8-year deal with Blue Jackets

Blue Jackets captain and four-time all-star Rick Nash signed an eight-year contract extension with the club Friday, general manager Scott Howson announced.

Rick Nash is staying put in Columbus.

The Blue Jackets' captain and four-time all-star signed an eight-year contract extension with the club on Friday, general manager Scott Howson announced.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but a source told The Canadian Press that Nash, 25, inked a deal worth $62.4 million US.

The extension kicks in after next season. Nash will make $7 million in 2009-10, and the extension keeps him in Columbus through the 2017-18 season.

"He is our captain, the foundation of our team and one of the elite players in the National Hockey League, and we are very happy that he will continue to call Columbus home for many years to come," Howson said in a statement. "This is an important and exciting day for our franchise and our fans."

"Rick made a significant statement to Columbus and for Columbus in terms of how he feels about playing here," Howson added. "He loves Columbus; he never wanted to leave. That's what made me so optimistic all along that we could sign him to an extension."

Last season, the left-winger was the NHL's fifth-highest goal scorer, with 40 goals. He finished with 79 points in 78 games, ranking 18th overall in points scored. 

Near career high

His points and assists totals were career highs, and he was one goal shy of his career-high 41 in 2003-04.

If Nash had not been signed, the first overall pick in the 2002 NHL draft would have become the biggest unrestricted free agent on the market next summer.

There was speculation that several teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, would have been prime buyers for Nash if he was up for grabs next summer.

The Brampton, Ont., native had a goal and two assists in the Blue Jackets' debut playoff appearance last season against the Detroit Red Wings, who swept Columbus in the first round.

Last season was Nash's first full year as captain.

A co-winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy for leading goal-scorer in 2003-04, Nash has 194 goals and 161 assists for 355 points in 441 career games. He is the leading scorer in Blue Jackets franchise history.

Nash is one of 46 players invited to the Canadian Olympic hockey team's summer camp in Calgary at the end of August. 

Last month at the NHL Awards, he won the NHL Foundation Player Award for his charitable work and work in the community.

With files from The Canadian Press