Rick Nash, the Rangers' marquee acquisition this offseason, is headed to Switzerland to play during the lockout, multiple sources told ESPNNewYork.com.
The 28-year-old winger, acquired via trade in August, will join Davos of the Swiss-A league, where he will join fellow NHL star Joe Thornton. The two played there together in 2004-05 during the last lockout, when the entire season was forfeited.
It is believed that Nash, who led the Blue Jackets with 30 goals and 29 assists last season, wants to hit the ground running in New York once the lockout ends and feels that playing overseas will help him stay sharp.
Before coming to the Rangers in a blockbuster deal this summer, Nash spent the past nine years in Columbus after being the first overall pick in the 2002 draft. The Brampton, Ontario native said he was ready to embrace the spotlight of New York and was looking forward to joining a team that went to the Eastern Conference finals.
“I think the main thing was looking at the team, looking at what they’ve done over the years. It’s something I’d love to be part of. I’d love to help them out. I think the big-market is just a bonus that comes along with it,” he said in his first official appearance with the Rangers after the trade.
The five-time All-Star, who has six NHL seasons of 30 goals or more, has six years remaining on a deal that will pay him $7.8 million annually.
It is standard operating procedure for NHL players to sign contracts that includes an "out clause" that would allow them to return to North America once a lockout ends. Most players also have to obtain insurance -- either out of their own pocket or their European club -- that insures their NHL contract against injury should they get hurt while playing overseas.