Rick Nash has never been an unrestricted free agent, but the veteran Ranger who will be 34 years old when free agency begins next summer is entering the final year of his contract, which carries a $7.8 million cap hit.

“Every year I want to have the best year possible. But this year, it’s an important year for me personally,” Nash said Friday at Citi Field during an event promoting the Winter Classic between the Rangers and Sabres on New Year’s Day at the ballpark. “It’s an important year for the Rangers, too. We still haven’t achieved that goal (winning the Stanley Cup) that we all want to achieve.”

The venerable winger knows his performance during the upcoming season will inform his next contract but offered a very matter-of-fact view on his situation. “Your contract’s up and you play for another contract. That’s what I’m facing this year,” he said.

Nash set a career-high with 42 goals during the 2014-15 season. In the two seasons since he scored 15 goals in 60 games and 23 goals in 67 games, respectively.

The Rangers have $47,150,000 in cap space devoted to 10 players for the 2018-19 season. Add in Dan Girardi’s dead-money hit following his buyout and that jumps to $50,761,111. J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes, Jimmy Vesey and Brady Skjei will all be restricted free agents after the 2017-18 campaign.