Four Free Agents that would change the Rangers fortunes overnight
The Rangers are in the midst of a very exciting time for the organization. If Jeff Gorton and Glen Sather play their cards right, the result could be a squad capable of contending for years to come.
The Rangers, who just hired former Boston University bench boss David Quinn, are at a crossroads. This off-season has the potential to be a big one, should the Rangers opt to pair their young core with some seasoned veterans. There is a plethora of available free agents that the Blueshirts can bring in to help mold them back into contention. Here are the ones they should consider.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. One of the top snipers in the league, Tavares is in the prime of his career and may leave Long Island for greener pastures. Although, with the Islanders bringing in heavyweight NHL executive Lou Lamoriello and firing General Manager Garth Snow, the likelihood that he remains with the Islanders seems to be increasing. Tavares put up 84 points during this season’s campaign that saw the Islanders finish second to last in the Metropolitan Division, in front of only the Rangers. His proven leadership and skill at the center position make him an excellent addition for a team looking to develop young centermen, like Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil. If the Rangers plan on making this their only big ticket signing of the off-season, they should have enough cap space to make an attractive offer to Tavares, should he opt to leave Long Island despite the changes in management.
The Rangers are entering a transition from an offense first system installed by Alain Vigneault to a defensive “in your face” system, as David Quinn puts it. Since Ryan McDonagh was traded to the Lightning at the trade deadline, the Rangers are now weak on the defensive front. They will have Marc Staal, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Brady Skjei returning. But after that, the final three spots are up for grabs. One of them will likely go to Neal Pionk who showed that he was ready to play in the NHL during his time with the team this past season. The final two spots can be filled in a variety of ways. Tony DeAngelo and John Gilmour remain projects, and newbies Ryan Lindgren and Libor Hajek are still developing their potentially NHL-caliber skill sets. With the Rangers trying to go towards a more physical defense first orientation, Luke Schenn fits the bill. He won’t get them a lot of points, but he will provide solid 2nd or 3rd pairing defense with a very aggressive edge to his game. Schenn is a low-cost option who will at the very least provide a veteran presence to a very young defense.
Thomas Vanek, who will turn 35 next season, is on the wrong side of the age spectrum when considering the Ranger’s efforts to rebuild with a younger team. But with that said, he has proven that he can still produce points at a decent rate. Vanek scored 56 points in 80 games played last season, and while that isn’t the most impressive number, it still outdoes the production of any Ranger who played last year. Vanek’s north-south style of play and his knack for creating offense makes him an excellent presence and mentor for young players, like the aforementioned Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil, as well as Pavel Buchnevich.
John Carlson is coming off of one of the best campaigns of his career and played a monumental role in bring the Stanley Cup home to Washington . Carlson notched 68 points this season, which ranks second out of all available free agents. Carlson is an excellent two way defender and has been the life-blood of the Caps blue line for the past 8 years. He can fill the hole on the Ranger’s blueline without having to be acquired (i.e. Erik Karlsson). John Carlson would be on the Ranger’s first pairing, likely with Brady Skjei. Kevin Shattenkirk would be on the second pairing probably with Neal Pionk, which would leave Marc Staal to be a third-pairing veteran mentor to whichever young player wins the job during the preseason. Carlson will cost a fortune for whichever club reaches a deal with him, but the Rangers can potentially accommodate this if they’re satisfied with not signing any expensive forwards.