The New York Rangers Should Not Use The Cap Space They Have This Summer

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The New York Rangers are in the midst of continuing their rebuild and reports say they are interested in bringing in character guys and guys who play much harder than they did last season. Any signing the Rangers make should be a one year commitment only. Although the Rangers have a lot of cap space, they also have a lot of restricted free agents. Whether its signing unrestricted free agents or worrying about their own restricted free agents they have to be careful what contracts are given out with an eye on upcoming NHL free agent class that can be as star studded as this year’s MLB free agent class.

The Rangers goal this season should not be to attempt to bring in guys and then try to sneak their way into a playoff spot. This is New York, ultimately we dont care about playoffs, the goal of a New York team should be to win a championship. The Rangers are nowhere near that at the moment. What sense then does it make to bring in players (maybe outside Tavares whom they didn’t even request a meeting with) for a multi year commitment? The Rangers did that with Michael Grabner and although he performed well, what exactly did that do for them in the end? The Ranger are nowhere close to a championship this season. The goal this off season should be to continuing to attempting to build the team with as much high end talent as possible.

While its true NHL free agent superstars rarely hit free agency, the odds next year are better that at least a few of them will shake loose because there are just so many impact players and so many teams who don’t exactly have a ton of cap space. This list includes guys like Tyler Seguin, Arteri Panarin, Erik Karlsson, Logan Couture, Drew Doughty among many others.

The Rangers have almost 30 million in cap space this Summer but they should be very careful with how they use it. They have to make a decision on guys like Kevin Hayes and Brady Skjei who probably should be part of this solution but guys like Spooner, Namestnikov and the other restricted free agents they have should not be. The Rangers can’t get stuck in the same cycle they were in the past where they were paying good money to players who are simply not going to win you a Stanley cup if they are who you are relying on.

If you’re the New York Rangers wouldn’t Arteri Panarin and/or Tyler Seguin look good on Broadway? The Rangers need to make moves this off season with an eye on the star studded class that could await the team after the 2018-2019 season.

New York Rangers’ Offseason Makes Zero Sense So Far

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It is rare for a talented player like John Tavares to hit free agency. When a player of his caliber does hit the open market every team in the NHL should at least call his agent and see what it would take to bring Tavares to their team. However, it leaked earlier that just five teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, and Tampa Bay Lightning were represented for in-person pitches. The New York Islanders captain is also being courted by the Islanders.

The New York Rangers are in the midst of a rebuild. However, that doesn’t mean they should sit out the Tavares sweepstakes. Rangers’ GM Jeff Gorton, however, has been quiet regarding Tavares. We all know the chances of Tavares choosing the Rangers are slim. The Islanders are loaded with young talent at forward and have made front office changes that at least indicate the Islanders are ready to move in the right direction.

Still, no offer being made to the top free agent, especially one from a rival, is just criminal. Instead, Gorton seems ready and willing to use his cap space to help a team like Dallas, Toronto, or Tampa Bay open up cap room to sign Tavares by taking back contracts.

That is like a slap in the face to Rangers’ fans. Gorton is willing to help another team sign Tavares by taking back contracts to free up space for that team but isn’t willing to make an offer to the soon-to-be 28-year-old center? Let’s be honest, Tavares on the Rangers makes them a playoff team. The Rangers could slide Mika Zibanejad to the second line and suddenly a position that looked weak last year is pretty strong. The Rangers could also trade some of their restricted free agents to open up more cap room or to acquire more assets to quicken the rebuild. Instead, the Rangers have been quiet this offseason. Though it was reported they were interested in 35-year-old winger Ilya Kovalchuk before he signed with the Los Angeles Kings.

The interest in Kovalchuk makes even less sense than their quiet approach to Tavares. Why show interest in a winger who hasn’t played in the NHL since 2013 but remain quiet when it comes to a 28-year-old center? It makes no sense.

The Rangers are selling this as a total rebuild but yet this roster still has Mats Zuccarello and Marc Staal on the roster. Which is it? None of the restricted free agents like Kevin Hayes, Vladislav Namestnikov, or Ryan Spooner were moved at the draft. In fact, the draft was a bit of a disaster in own right. The Rangers refused to budge from their board even after top talent fell to them potentially continuing a disastrous history of missing out on elite forwards in the draft.

Obviously the jury is still out on the Rangers’ rebuild but their stubborn approach to the draft, their lack of interest in an elite 28-year-old center, and their keeping Staal and Zuccarello on the team indicates they are only putting one foot in the pool. Can I be wrong about the Rangers? Certainly. But what, in recent weeks, gives Rangers’ fans any hope that this team is headed in the right direction any time soon?

Five Players The Rangers Could Select With the 9th Overall Pick In The NHL Draft

The New York Rangers are in a rebuilding phase. They sold off some assets such as Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, Nick Holden and Ryan Mcdonagh at the NHL trade deadline and acquired prospects and most of all draft picks in this upcoming 2018 Draft. While the Rangers have the ammunition or draft capital so to speak to move up in this year’s draft for a player like Andrei Svechnikov, Filip Zadina, Brady Tkachuk or even Quinn Hughes, there are also a few quality players to have if they were to stay at 9.

  1. Jesperi Kotkaniemi – C (Finland)

If you’re looking for a potential future #1 center the only center in this draft class that might have that ability is Kotkaniemi. He is a skilled player who at 17 is playing against players much more older and seasoned than him. If you’re looking at points only, (29 points in 57 games) you will be disappointed. The team drafting Kotkaniemi will be drafting him based on his potential, much like other players such as Patrick Laine (33 points in 46 games) in the SM-liiga league. Kotkaniemi is only 17 years old and will be a top 6 center in the NHL with the ability and skill set to become a top line center in the NHL as he matures.

2. Noah Dobson – D (QMJHL)

Dobson projects as a two way defenseman with top pairing potential. He is a right handed defenseman who can move the puck very well which is essential in todays NHL. The Rangers have not been able to move the puck out of their zone quickly enough but this guy has the ability to do that whether he’s moving it to another teammate or skating the puck out of the zone. He has a strong shot from the point which is also something the Rangers defenseman have lacked maybe since Sergei Zubov. Some scouts believe that Dobson could develop into another Alex Pietrangelo which would be a coup for the Rangers at 9.

3. Evan Bouchard – D (London Knights OHL)

Bouchard is becoming one of the fastest risers in this years draft class due to his impressive size (6″2 195). Bouchard also is another right handed defenseman which are very valuable in the NHL today, just look at what the value is in trades to acquire one. Bouchard offensively has dominated the OHL (87 points in 67 games) this year and has the ability to develop into a top 4 defenseman in the NHL. He very well might end up the best offensive defenseman in this years class.

4. Adam Boqvist – D (SHL)

This on the surface seems like a long shot, some believe this kid offensively has the ability to become the next Erik Karlsson so why is there any chance the Rangers might be able to get him at 9? According to reports, some teams are becoming skeptical of Boqvist due to the two concussions he had last season as well as his smaller size (5’ll 165). While he may be on the smaller size, he possesses every skill you need in the NHL, he moves the puck very well, he skates well, and has offensive ability of a top line forward. Some may also be turned off that Boqvist seems to be less proactive in his own end, but the old saying here is true, you can teach talent, and Boqvist is oozing with it. The Rangers should run to the podium if he somehow slips to them at 9.

5. Oliver Wahlstrom – RW (USHL)

We have all seen the video of the penalty shot that this kid made when he was just 9 years old playing on NHL ice. Wahlstrom possesses something the Rangers haven’t had since Jaromir Jagr, a potential dynamic offensive player. Wahlstrom is said to have the best shot in the entire draft and with 22 goals in 26 games this season its hard to say thats not accurate. Furthermore, his performance in the 2018 WJCs did nothing but help his stock. Some have him only a step below guys like Svechnikov and Zadina who are projected to go 2nd and 3rd overall. Wahlstrom is committed to Boston College so any team that drafts him is going to have to wait for him. Could that help the Rangers who are in a rebuilding mode? The Rangers surely wouldn’t have a problem waiting for Wahlstrom if they believe he’s the next Ilya Kovalchuk as they’re not really expected to contend for the next few seasons as they figure out their next best course of action for this rebuild. If Wahlstrom were to somehow be available at 9 the Rangers shouldn’t take any time and run to the podium to select him.

 

 

 

New York Rangers’ Future Not As Dim As You Think

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The New York Rangers fell flat this past season and GM Jeff Gorton sold off assets and set the team up fairly well for the future, at least for this year and next year’s draft while also adding young talent. Gorton will continue to rework the roster, getting younger and more athletic to keep pace with the current trend of the NHL. There is still a lot of work to be done but the Rangers might be better off now than they were at this point last season.

The Rangers will have between $25 and $30 million in cap space depending on where the NHL sets next season’s number. They currently have 13 players under contract and could possibly make some deals leading up to the 2018 NHL Draft to acquire more picks or trade up to select potentially elite talent. Gorton didn’t use all of his ammunition at the trade deadline and could use fan favorite Mats Zuccarello, who is entering the last year of his contract and is owed $4.5 million, as a means to acquire more picks or a younger, cheaper player. Jimmy Vesey, Ryan Spooner, Kevin Hayes and Vladimir Namestnikov are all entering restricted free agency and Gorton could re-sign or trade their rights. There is also a chance that these players would be brought back

There are options for Gorton and the Rangers. There are already rumors that they are interested in Ilya Kovalchuk and Gorton has confirmed he has spoken to Kovalchuk. Adding Kovalchuk doesn’t make much sense for a team that is rebuilding but the Rangers aren’t truly rebuilding. They are reloading. There is also the idea that adding Kovalchuk could help bring along the Rangers’ own Russian players. He is an icon that showed he still had ability during the 2018 Winter Olympics. If the Rangers did sign him it would give them a legitimate scoring winger who could provide leadership to a young team, especially the young Russians like Pavel Buchnevich, Namestnikov, and Alexei Bereglazov. It might not be the greatest move but it could be beneficial.

The Rangers have 10 draft picks in this coming NHL Draft including three in the first round. Their highest pick is ninth, not ideal but not awful. There is a bit of elite talent at the top of this draft and Gorton might be able to move up to ensure he gets an elite prospect. They also currently have nine picks in next year’s draft, including a conditional first-round pick from Tampa which at worst would become a second-round pick. Gorton has something none of his predecessors have had in recent memory, currency.

This past season might have been a dark one. Falling to ninth in the draft wasn’t exactly what Rangers’ fans had in mind but Gorton has the ability to move up and other assets to acquire more picks if he so desires. When you combine those assets with the Rangers’ young players like Buchnevich, Mika Zibanejad, Brady Skjei, Neal Pionk, Vesey, Namestnikov, Spooner, Filip Chytil, and Lias Andersson the future might not be bleak at all.

The Rangers had a very good run over the last few years but you can’t count them out for next season just yet. They have some solid youth, decent veteran players, Henrik Lundqvist, and a slew of draft capital. They are also expected to make a run at elite free agent John Tavares which would give them the elite player they have so desperately craved in recent years. There is a lot to be happy about heading into this offseason if you’re a Rangers fan.