Latest on the top New York Rangers offseason storylines to follow

The New York Rangers will be very busy this offseason. Their current focus is on the hiring of a new head coach. Here’s an update to the top storylines to follow until next season’s opening puck drop.

The Rangers opted to relieve David Quinn of his head coaching duties at season’s end. “I would like to thank David Quinn, David Oliver, Jacques Martin, and Greg Brown for all of their efforts and dedication to the Rangers,” Chris Drury said via a press release. “I wish each of them the best in their future endeavors. We will begin our search for a new head coach immediately.”

Earlier this week I got a small update on the Rangers coaching search. We know of two interviews that took place, Gerard Gallant and Rick Tocchet with more expected. From what I could gather, there is no urgency on the part of the Rangers to hire a coach. This will be a thorough and detailed process that Chris Drury will follow.

Kyle Hall of Belly Up Sports recently asked Latvia’s head coach Bob Hartley about his rumored connection to the Rangers coaching job. “We are at the World Championships,” he said. “My focus is on Team Latvia.” Considering that Gallant interviewed from the World’s it is very likely that Hartley could have done the same.

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Jun 21, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella wins the Jack Adams Award during the 2017 NHL Awards and Expansion Draft at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest question for me is the absolute radio silence with regards to John Tortorella. There’s been almost no talk on Torts from any NHL team. He is a listed client per the PBI Sports website. “I really haven’t worked with him much lately,” Neil Glasberg said. “He’s not ready to retire, but if someone presented him with a management opportunity I don’t think he’d say no. He loves the game and he’s passionate.”

This could be why we really haven’t heard much about Tortorella regarding some of these vacancies. I’m not ruling out a Torts return behind the bench, but it could explain why we haven’t heard his name yet. As far as I’m aware he has yet to speak with any NHL teams.

NHL Draft Lottery, can the Rangers do it again?

Central Scouting released its final ranking for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft which takes place on July 23 and 24. Where the New York Rangers will be selecting won’t be determined until the Draft Lottery takes place next week on Wednesday.

They have a 1% chance to select first overall, and a 2.1% for second. I doubt lightning will strike three years in a row, but wouldn’t that be something? Regardless, the Rangers are likely to remain where they are and pick 15th since the Coyotes do not have a selection due to a scouting violation.

Who will the Rangers lose in the Seattle Expansion

The Seattle Kraken will start to build their hockey team on July 21st. That is the date set for the Expansion Draft. We know that Blueshirts will be exposing Tony DeAngelo for certain. It is unlikely the Kraken go that route, so we look at some other possibilities in the early going.

I believe it will come down to Brett Howden and Julien Gauthier. Each suffered an injury to end their seasons, so I don’t think that will factor in the selection. My thought is that Howden would be their choice. He’s a young and responsible defensive center, and pivots are always at a premium. Remember, the Golden Knights selected Oscar Lindberg back in 2017.

Will the Rangers trade for Jack Eichel or another top center

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Feb 22, 2021; Uniondale, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) and New York Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock (6) battle for position during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Jack Eichel trade watch is still on in New York. On the heels of his public comments about being upset (again) with the Sabres, this time over his injury, he may be playing elsewhere. Today, GM Kevyn Adams stated that Eichel has not requested a trade.

That may be the case, but how are we all supposed to take him saying, “I want to be healthy to play next season, WHEREVER that might be”? The Rangers remain the front runners to land Eichel with the L.A. Kings close behind.

Of course, Eichel may not be the only available center this summer. Two other names are on the Rangers short list if they are made available. One is Aleksander Barkov, the other is Evgeny Kuznetsov. For me, I’d steer clear of the latter at this point. Another veteran possibility will be Evgeni Malkin but the cost could be Vitali Kravtsov and more.

Who will the Rangers add to the blue-line

The Blueshirts are going to be adding a veteran to the blue-line, most likely through free agency. Depending on how things shake out on the Eichel front, I doubt they would be in the market for David Savard. The growing consensus is a defenseman like Alec Martinez would fit the bill for next season.

There is always the option to re-sign Brendan Smith as well.

How will the Rangers revamp the bottom six

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Feb 19, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) takes a face off against Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jordan Martinook (48) at PNC Arena. The New York Rangers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

This is probably one of the biggest reasons from a lineup standpoint why the old regime was changed. The Rangers need to change their bottom six to be able to battle in the tough Eastern Conference. I’ve already dropped some potential UFA’s like Casey Cizikas, Jordan Martinook, and Riley Sheehan here.

Chris Drury could also look to the trade market and see if adding a Ryan Reaves or Milan Lucic makes sense. In particular Lucic would interest me, but only if Calgary ate 50% of his salary and the cost was a mid round pick.

Latest NHL Trade rumors

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins appears destined to hit the open market this July, and Mike Sullivan may become another available head coach. Read more here.