Drafted out of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) by the Blue Jackets first overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Nash played with the London Knights for two seasons, earning the Emms Family Award in 2001 as league rookie of the year. He began his NHL career with Columbus the season immediately following his draft and was nominated for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year. In his second NHL season, Nash scored a career-high 41 goals to tie with Jarome Iginla and Ilya Kovalchuk for the Rocket Richard Trophy as league goal-scoring champion. Nash is also a four-time NHL All-Star and has been awarded the NHL Foundation Player Award in 2009 for his work in the community.
Internationally, Nash has represented Team Canada extensively. He won a silver medal at the 2002 World Junior Championships, two World Championships silver medals, a gold at the 2007 World Championships and a gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He has also competed in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.
A London Knight for two seasons in the OHL, Rick Nash began his major junior career with 66 points in his first year, receiving the Emms Family Award as the league’s top rookie. The following season, he amassed 72 points in 54 games and was subsequently was selected 1st overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Joining the Blue Jackets immediately after his draft year in 2002–03, Nash debuted on October 10, 2002 and scored a goal in a 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. He was the eighth No. 1 overall pick to score a goal in their first game and the first to do so in his draft year since Mario Lemieux in 1984. That season, Nash was nominated for the Calder Trophy, as the NHL‘s best rookie, but lost to defenceman Barret Jackman of the St. Louis Blues. He would, however, join Jackman on the NHL All-Rookie Team.
In Nash’s sophomore campaign, he improved his rookie goal total from 17 to 41, a career high that tied Jarome Iginla and Ilya Kovalchuk for the Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals in the league. At 19 years of age, Nash was the youngest player in history to lead the league in goals. Recording 16 assists, Nash finished the year with 57 points.
During the 2004–05 NHL lockout, Nash played for HC Davos of the Swiss Nationalliga A (NLA). He scored 26 goals and 46 points in 44 games and added 11 more points (9 goals, 2 assists) in 15 games in the NLA playoffs. Joined by fellow NHL-er Joe Thornton, Davos went on to win the Swiss Championship, as well as the 2004 Spengler Cup.
With the NHL set to resume play in 2005–06, the Blue Jackets re-signed Nash to a five-year, $27 million contract. The deal saw his annual salary increase each year with $3.5 million the first season and $7 million in the last season of the contract for a $5.4 million average salary. However, knee and ankle injuries sidelined Nash for much of the first half of the season. Missing 28 games total, Nash was still named to Team Canada for the 2006 Olympics, shortly after being activated from the injured reserve. Upon returning from a seventh place finish in Turin, Nash completed the season at a point-per-game pace with 54 points in 54 games.
In 2006–07, Nash matched his sophomore points total with 57, and was named to the Western Conference All-Star Team for the second time in his career. He has been Columbus’ lone representative both times. Nash scored the game-winning goal in the West win.
The following season, on January 17, 2008, Nash scored what many commentators called the “goal of the year” in the final minute versus the Phoenix Coyotes. Breaking a tied score, Nash deked around two defenders and the goaltender to score the eventual game-winner. Later, at the end of the season, the goal was nominated for an ESPY Award in the category of Best Play. Selected to his third All-Star Game in 2008 that season, Nash scored the quickest goal in All-Star Game history, just 12 seconds in and ended the game with a hat trick.
Completing the season with 38 goals and 69 points, Nash nearly matched his personal best goals total and set a career high for points and assists. Shortly before the end of the season, on March 12, 2008, Nash was also named the fifth captain in Blue Jackets history, replacing the recently traded Adam Foote.
Going into the 2008–09 campaign, the Blue Jackets had gone without a playoff appearance in franchise history. Led by the newly-appointed captain Nash and bolstered by rookie goaltender Steve Mason, the Blue Jackets finished the season as the seventh seed in the Western Conference to earn a post-season berth against division-rival the Detroit Red Wings. The series was preceded by an 8–2 rout over the Red Wings on March 7, 2009, a game in which Nash scored three unassisted goals. According to the Columbus Dispatch, citing the Elias Sports Bureau, the last player to score three goals unassisted was Maurice “Rocket” Richard (who scored four) against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 1948. Despite the convincing victory late in the season the Blue Jackets lost in four games.
In addition to leading the Blue Jackets to the playoffs, Nash had a career season with 79 points, in addition to scoring 40 goals for the first time since 2003–04. In the off-season, on July 3, 2009, Nash signed an eight-year contract extension with the Blue Jackets worth $62.4 million set to take effect in 2010–11.
In 2006, shortly after returning from an injury, he was selected to play on Team Canada’s Olympic team, but managed just one point in a disappointing seventh place finish.
The following year, Nash captured his first gold medal with Team Canada at the 2007 World Championship in a 4-2 victory over Finland in Moscow. Scoring two goals in the gold medal game against Finland and 11 points total, Nash was named to the tournament All-Star Team and earned MVP honours.
Nash appeared in his third World Championship in 2008, but failed to repeat as gold medal champion with Canada, earning silver. In the championship game against Russia, Nash attempted to clear the puck in overtime, but accidentally shot it over the glass, resulting a delay of game penalty. On the powerplay, Russia capitalized, defeating Canada 5-4. Despite his misplay, Nash was named to the tournament All-Star Team for the second consecutive year, finishing with 13 points.
On December 30, 2009, Nash was selected to play for Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.  After starting the tournament on Sidney Crosby‘s wing, he was switched to a line with Mike Richards and Jonathan Toews, who was named Best Forward. Nash contributed two goals and three assists in Canada’s gold medal win.