Free Agent Frenzy is today, but it’s looking like trades or bust for the Rangers

Gorton has some decision to make (NHL/CBSsports)

Gorton has some decision to make (NHL/CBSsports)

In just about 2 hours the bell will sound opening the start of Free Agent Frenzy (12PM EST). With Steven Stamkos off the board, teams like Detroit, Buffalo, Toronto and Vancouver will all be moving on to plan B – the free agent market.

Expected today will be big named forwards Kyle Okposo, David Backes, Milan Lucic, Andrew Ladd and Loui Eriksson all being swept up within the first few hours. Then as the day progresses the likes of Eric Staal, Thomas Vanek, Radim Vrbata and Frans Nielsen will all likely be swept off the board too.

On defense, teams like the Oilers and Avalanche will likely go hard after recently bought out blue-liners Dennis Seidenberg and James Wisniewski. Not to mention guys like Dan Hamhuis, Luke Schenn and Brian Campbell getting a few looks too.

McGinn

McGinn

The fact is when it’s all said and done, the Rangers will likely be looking for the scraps left from the feeding frenzy. That means, small moves that could likely help the bottom six. Jeff Gorton will be hoping guys like Darren Helm and Jamie McGinn may get lost in the shuffle today and hope to sweep them up on good contracts this late afternoon or tomorrow. Maybe get lucky with a center like Sam Gagner going unsigned for a few days and getting him on a good contract, but that’s just wishful thinking.

UPDATE: Scratch HELM off the list….he has re-signed in Detroit.

Like I wrote yesterday, the Rangers need to trade away some big contracts in order to even get a sniff at any noteworthy free agent. That didn’t happen, which means they won’t be able to do much starting at noon.

If they do sign a big name free agent, then either A: they are moving or not signing 1 or 2 of their RFA’s or, B: they have a deal in place to move Rick Nash and possibly Dan Girardi and/or Marc Staal (who both must waive their NMC). As to what deals are out there, your guess is a good as the guys who cover the Rangers daily from the inside.

Pat Leonard NYDN:

Multiple sources maintain that Gorton most certainly is interested in moving either or both Dan Girardi and Marc Staal — even though the team vehemently denied a Daily News report last week that Gorton was trying to move them as the draft approached.

Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, the New Rochelle native with one year remaining on a $4.25 million cap hit, will be expensive to acquire in a trade and to sign to an extension even with the hometown discount he is willing to take if dealt to the Rangers. But he is the best fit among the available defensemen…Do Gorton and Vigneault believe enough in Miller to trade Kreider to the Midwest to bring back Shattenkirk?

The Rangers have not checked in on a depth forward they have pursued in years past, Anaheim free agent Jamie McGinn. It is unknown if they are one of many teams interested in Dale Weise, the former Ranger 2008 fourth-round pick who John Tortorella chased out of town only to become an established contributor for Vigneault’s Canucks and the Montreal Canadiens prior to an unproductive post-deadline stint in Chicago.

Larry Brooks NYPOST:

Even though general manager Jeff Gorton has been active doing due diligence and attempting to pull off deals — The Post has learned the Rangers tried hard to get the fourth-overall selection from Edmonton in last week’s entry draft but could not make it work — sources report the Blueshirts have been offered pennies on the dollar in return for primary asset Rick Nash.

The Blueshirts’ main free-agent target won’t become available until Aug. 15. That’s 23-year-old Harvard winger Jimmy Vesey, whose rights were traded from Nashville to Buffalo after the Hobey Baker winner eschewed all Predator offers.

Vesey, by the way, is a close friend of Kevin Hayes, which may be one of the reasons the Blueshirts have not dangled No. 13 around the league following an almost impossibly disappointing sophomore season.

So the Blueshirts are expected to take a run at Michael Grabner; check in on Brandon Pirri; look at Darren Helm and maybe even Lauri Korpikoski; and check out Eric Gryba. But if the cost is inflated (as it usually is for at least the first couple of days of free agency), Gorton could just as well wait for the prices to drop before wading into the action.

Conclusion

Today is going to be an odd day for sure. There is almost an anything goes feel to it. I doubt the Rangers go after any of the big named free agents and instead focus on locking up Jimmy Vesey as Brooks indicates.

I also think the Rangers have several bottom six forwards in mind they would like to acquire to improve the team. Tops on that list is Jamie McGinn, which I’m sure is on the wish list of many others.

If the Rangers do make big moves it will come on the trade front and those do not have to happen today. It is likely any team that misses out on one of the big named UFA forwards will then offer something of value for Rick Nash…that is if that team is on his list and we know that Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are not, so it isn’t all that promising.

Trading Chris Kreider for Kevin Shattenkirk is not my idea of improving as you open one hole in hopes of closing another. I’d like to see the Rangers swing a deal to bring in Nail Yakupov, even if it costs them Dylan McIlrath. I understand that offense isn’t the problem, but Yakupov might be available cheap and has all the offensive tools to be a star…he just needs to put it all together. It is worth the risk in my opinion.

Nash battles Fowler (Getty)

Nash battles Fowler (Getty)

If the Rangers can obtain a player like Yakupov on the cheap then Rick Nash could be used to improve the defense. A deal with Anaheim, if it at all possible for Cam Fowler will facilitate a revamping of the defense that will have Ryan McDonagh, Folwer and Brady Skjei in the top three.

It’s wait and see time Blueshirts fans…the clock is ticking.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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