Gravesy Posted May 16, 2019 Share Posted May 16, 2019 New York Rangers 2018-19 Record: 32-36-14, seventh in division Projected Cap Space: $21 million Notable Free Agents: Pavel Buchnevich (RFA), Brendan Lemieux (RFA), Connor Brickley (UFA), Neal Pionk (RFA), Anthony DeAngelo (RFA), Fredrik Claesson (RFA) Potential Free Agent Targets: Jordan Eberle, Artemi Panarin, Jeff Skinner, Matt Duchene Best Fit: Artemi Panarin. Yes, he?d fit with the Rangers, just as he would be a fit for the Islanders. Chances are the Rangers, especially jumping up in the draft lottery to get the second-overall pick, will be a more attractive destination for the big city-seeking Panarin. Outlook: Looking for a boost to their rebuild, the Rangers didn?t need to look any further than the machine that spit out the ping pong ball that gave them the second-overall pick at the NHL Draft. With New Jersey expected to take Jack Hughes with the first pick, the Rangers will almost certainly take Finnish sensation Kaapo Kakko, an elite offensive talent who should find his way into the top six for opening night next October. The 6-foot-4 winger has elite tools and knows how to use them and immediately creates an unexpected buzz. Kakko doesn?t guarantee a pass to the top eight in the Eastern Conference next spring, but he will bring some much-needed elite skill to a lineup that is heavy on role players and bottom-six forwards. The Rangers tied for 23rd in the league in goals per game and were 26th in 5-on-5 scoring, so Kakko, along with Russian forward Vitali Kravtsov, the ninth-overall pick in 2018 who signed his entry-level deal this spring, will get a chance to quickly assume prominent offensive roles for the Rangers. Assuming an upward arc for Ryan Strome, the continued evolution of scrappy Brendan Lemieux and the addition of Hobey Baker finalist Adam Fox, and this is a Ranger team that seemingly overnight looks to be knocking at the door. Fox is a critical piece of this new wave. The Harvard star has an excellent chance at being in the Rangers? opening night lineup and could be the next franchise power play quarterback and puck-moving stud and will be a nice counterpoint to mercurial but talented defender Tony DeAngelo. One source close to the team said Fox will make fans think of Hall of Famer Brad Park, a defender who will think his way through you as opposed to blowing past you with raw speed. Both DeAngelo and Fox are right-handed shot defenders. Throw in the emergence of young netminder Alex Georgiev and the news late this spring that goaltending prospect Igor Shestyorkin would also join the Rangers from the KHL, and all of a sudden a process that looked to require significant patience has taken on a much different tenor. As much as Henrik Lundqvist has been the face of the franchise since the 2004-05 lockout, the past couple of years provided an uncomfortable truth that the baton needed to be passed and Georgiev?s play ? he turned in a 2.91 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 33 appearances and was the de facto starter by the end of the season ? merely reinforced that notion. Along with Shestyorkin?s pedigree, it suggests the Rangers? future in goal is bright post-Lundqvist and that future might arrive sooner than later with Shestyorkin expected to start the season in the AHL. The infusion of youthful talent does create a ripple effect. Fox?s arrival throws into uncertainty the future of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who is under contract through 2020-21 with an annual cap hit of $6.650 million. The 30-year-old has a limited no-trade clause and it?s hard to imagine a team taking on the contractual burden straight up, so either the Rangers sweeten the pot with assets or eat some salary, or both. Bigger question: is there room in the Rangers? top six or seven for Fox, Shattenkirk and Neal Pionk given the relatively slight stature of all three right-handed shot defenders? Does GM Jeff Gorton use his considerable cap space and plethora of young talent to lure a top-end scorer to the fold, someone like Artemi Panarin? Lots of potential Plan Bs if Panarin ends up elsewhere, like in South Florida, including New York area neighbors Jordan Eberle and Anders Lee. Finding some veteran ballast (and talent) would seem to be key for Gorton in his free agent shopping, especially if he can find a right-handed shot given the team?s preponderance of left-handed forwards. As one source close to the team noted, with Mats Zuccarello, Ryan McDonagh and others having left the fold in recent years, keeping an eye on the leadership quantity and quality is important as well, even with Mika Zibanejad assuming some of that role. Let?s not overstate things here. This is still a team that is very young down the middle. Heck, they?re young everywhere. The clock continues to tick on Lias Andersson, the seventh-overall pick in 2017. But if there were continuing growing pains on the ice for the Rangers it appears they have found the perfect tonic behind the bench in coach David Quinn who stepped seamlessly into one of the most demanding jobs in the league. ?He?s the Rangers? most important free agent addition,? one longtime executive and scout said recently. ?He?s a today coach through and through, he?s a communicator.? But he also makes players accountable. Of course, the draft lottery wasn?t the only news the Rangers made as longtime GM and current team president Glen Sather announced he was stepping down. This created a flurry of rumors about who would replace the Hall of Famer, including Columbus executive John Davidson. https://theathletic.com/966329/2019/05/15/nhl-offseason-outlook-what-to-expect-from-every-metropolitan-division-team/ I think he's probably over cooking how far along the Rangers are in the rebuild, regardless of signing Fox and getting 2OA. I would probably tone down the idea of this being a roster "knocking on the door" just a little bit. I'm also not crazy about the idea of going after Lee or Eberle should the Panarin move fail. Not crazy about it at all. 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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