Hockey Insiders all point to Rangers having a big free agent summer
You can now add Elliotte Friedman along with the likes of Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger as the latest hockey insider that claims the Rangers will be all in on Panarin and the free agent market.
“It’s going to be an interesting summer for those guys because they’re going into the free agent waters, and they’re not going to be tip-toeing in – they’re going to be diving in. I think it’ll be interesting to see Panarin, I think they’re going to take a big run at him. We’ll see what else is out there.”Friedman via Nichols on Hockey
Panarin is the main target
Friedman’s comments come a week after Bob McKenzie stated that come Free Agency the Rangers will have “bags of money” waiting for Artemi Panarin.
The rumored numbers that most insiders believe will be the final contract are around $11M per for the max 7 years. That would take the 27 year old Panarin to the ripe age of 34 at the end of his contract. Jeff Gorton and the Rangers need to avoid those late years.
One thing the Rangers could do, similar to what the Leafs did with John Tavares is front load the money in a signing bonus. Toronto gave around 70M of his 77M contract in the form of a signing bonus to Tavares, the Rangers can do the same.
In essence, the Rangers will make his contract “lock-out proof” with the potential of a heated CBA negotiation just around the corner. Not only can the Rangers do that, but they could go over his market value and maybe offer him 12.5M for 4 or 5 years, thus making the term more favorable for the Blueshirts future.