Looking ahead at potential Rangers 2020 free agent targets

Mark this date on your calendar New York Rangers fans: July 1, 2020. The start of free agency in the NHL…AFTER next season.

Why bring it up? Well, we know the likes of Vitali Kravtsov and Igor Shestyorkin could be with the big club next season but we can’t be sure Artemi Panarin will sign as a UFA. So if the Rangers do miss in 2019, who should Jeff Gorton and company have their eyes on?

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

The now-25-year-old has somewhat flown under the radar these last couple years in Edmonton, as any player would if they played with Connor McDavid. The versatile forward is on pace to have a career year across the board this season, which is impressive considering the dumpster fire surrounding the Oilers organization.

This potential pickup by the Rangers would have an immediate impact, as he can play center or the wing and will surely be apart of the power play unit. His 2019-20 cap hit is a firm $6 million, as you could expect a longer-term contract in the summer of 2020 with a small raise in order. At just 27 by the time he becomes a free agent and his play consistently getting better year in and year out, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is an option the Rangers should take a look at come the 2020 offseason.

Mike Hoffman

The consistent winger had a decent amount of success in Ottawa, averaging 58 points per season over the course of four years. After some interesting developments that led to his departure from the Senators organization (no need to go into detail), Hoffman is on pace to set career highs in all categories across the board in his first year with the Florida Panthers.

The top-line forward and power play threat had his name thrown around in some trade rumors this year, but nothing fully developed, which makes you wonder if there’s a character problem surrounding Hoffman. One way or another, the man is an offensive weapon.

The speedster has a taste for the back of the net, as he’s scored over 20 goals in each season since 2014, and will surpass 30 this year. Hoffman has a cap hit a shade over $5 million in 2019-20, and will get a raise when this contract is up, but he’s certainly someone the Rangers could look at to fill a top-six spot in their lineup.

Justin Faulk

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A guy who has been linked to the Rangers in the past, the now 26-year-old may be on his way out of Carolina due to the log jam on the back end. Between Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce, Dougie Hamilton, Jacob Slavin, and Calvin de Haan, the Carolina Hurricanes are spending over a quarter of the team entire cap on these five guys.

That might force the hand of the newly-nicknamed “Jerks” to potentially trade or let some of their guys walk. Faulk has solidified himself as a strong defenseman with a decent amount of offensive power, as he’s scored over 30 points in each season since 2013 and one point away from 50 in 2014-15. Faulk is just the type of guy you can see in a Rangers jersey, and he shouldn’t carry an enormous cap hit, either.

Tyson Barrie

The dynamic top-tier defenseman’s contract is up in 2020, but this one will carry more weight. With a current cap hit of $5.5 million, Barrie has only impressed year after year. He’s tallied over 50 points twice in his career and is on pace to do so a third time this year. With his best year coming last season, as he scored 14 goals with 43 assists in 68 games. Although it may be difficult to persuade a guy like Barrie away from the only team he’s played for since coming into the league in 2011, it’s nice to think how Barrie would look on the back end in New York.

Whether any of these guys coming to the Rangers could be a reality, we’ll have to wait and see. But all of these game-changers are consistent players I can see the Rangers taking a look at a year from now.