The Columbus Blue Jackets qualified for the NHL playoffs for the first time in franchise history this past season, and leading the way was team captain Rick Nash with a career-high 79 points. His season was highlighted by a pair of hat tricks against the Detroit Red Wings, including one in an 8-2 rout that featured Nash scoring three unassisted goals. It was the first time a player recorded three unassisted goals in a single game since Rocket Richard in 1948.
Draft Year: 2002
The No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft, Nash was selected ahead of goaltender Kari Lehtonen and defensemen Jay Bouwmeester, Joni Pitkanen and Ryan Whitney. He's the only player ever selected by the Blue Jackets to score at least 100 goals in the NHL (Nikolai Zherdev, a member of the New York Rangers this past season, is sitting on 99).
Why He's On My List
Nash is turning into one of the elite goal-scorers in the NHL, and he's nearly impossible to knock off the puck once he gets his 220-pound frame rolling. He's already led the league in goals once (2003-04) and has finished in the top-10 in goals-per-game three times, including this past season when he lit the lamp 40 times. His numbers and accomplishments are even more impressive when you consider the Blue Jackets haven't had a true No. 1 center to compliment him on the top line.
Obligatory YouTube Video
One of the best goals of the 2008 season, this is a combination of world-class skill from Nash and terrible defense from Phoenix.