If the Rangers strike out in the UFA market they could go the offer sheet route

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This offseason is already shaping up to be the most critical summer for the the Rangers rebuild. The Blueshirts over the last two years have either traded or bought out veterans and pending UFA’s for picks and prospects. They have drafted five first round picks in the last two drafts and could potentially be drafting 2 more in this draft. So the time has come to look at dipping into the free agent pool.

Going For It

There are two UFA’s the Rangers have been strongly linked two for some time now, Artemi Panarin and Erik Karlsson. It has been reported that Panarin is interested in playing for the Rangers despite the rebuild and some believe Karlsson may want to play with close friend, Henrik Lundqvist under the bright lights of Broadway.

Another UFA to keep an eye out on for the Rangers is Jeff Skinner in Buffalo. The soon to be 27 year old winger is on pace to set a record for goals and points in his career. Skinner is looking at finishing the year with 40+ goals and 65+ points and could be a better financial option than Panarin who will command $11M on the open market. Skinner could be had for considerably less (between 8-9M) and the Rangers have their eyes on him.

But what if the Rangers strike out in the UFA market? Will they turn to the talent rich RFA pool that includes the likes of Patrik Laine, Mitch Marner, and Mikko Rantanen.

All Options on the table for Gorton

The word around the team is that they are well aware of how pivotal this offseason is in terms of moving from rebuild to contender quickly. While the RFA offer sheet route is unlikely, it is not off the table for Jeff Gorton.

Insiders around the league have been uttering all year that this could be the summer we see a significant offer made. The last time it happened was to Ryan O’Reilly back in 2013.

LeBrun points out this summer’s crop of restricted free agents includes young stars such as Carolina’s Sebastian Aho, Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point, Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine, Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, Toronto’s Mitch Marner, Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk, and Vancouver’s Brock Boeser. He also noted clubs like Lightning, Maple Leafs, and Jets could be squeezed for salary-cap spacefor 2019-20, though their respective managements indicate they’re prepared to match any offer.

Spector’s Hockey

In his recent article, Lebrun also pointed out that offers made to the players mentioned above would be matched but second tier RFA’s on some of those teams could be had.

So would Jeff Gorton surrender a few first round picks to sign speedy Leafs forward Kasperi Kapanen?

Kapanen Has Top 6 Talent

This season so far, Kapanen has 19 goals and 42 points in 67 games. The 22 year old forward also has 2 shorthanded goals on the season and would boost the Rangers penalty kill going forward.

Kapanen would be the perfect steal for the Rangers because Toronto is going to have to give Mitch Marner at least $9M to get him signed. A quick look at the Leafs shows they have only around 10M in cap space and have 10 RFA’s to sign with the three big names being Marner, Kapanen, and Andreas Johnsson.

They also need to address the open spot on defense with Jake Gardiner set to become a UFA. So the Leafs are ripe to be hamstrung by an offer sheet to Kapanen and the Rangers should strongly consider it.

If the Rangers were to offer Kapanen a deal in the 3M to 4M range the compensation would only be a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd pick. If they feel he’s worth 4-5M over a longer term the compensation would be a manageable two 1st round picks, a 2nd and a 3rd. Remember, at some point the Rangers will be competitive and no longer in position for a lottery pick.

The season hasn’t even ended but the excitement surrounding the Rangers this summer is building. It will only grow to a fever pitch at the draft table in June and we are here to cover it for you.

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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