New York Rangers key RFAs: Buchnevich, Shesterkin, and Chytil

The New York Rangers have a handful of RFAs they need to get under contract. There are six in total but Pavel Buchnevich, Igor Shesterkin, and Filip Chytil are by far the most important to get done.

New York Rangers RFAs

While there is no firm date on when qualifying offers have to be in or when players can file for arbitration, it is usually after the draft (7/23-24). Here’s the full list of RFAs with only two having arbitration rights which allows the player to file for arbitration with an independent arbitrator to decided a one-year award.

  • Pavel Buchnevich (Arb Rights)
  • Igor Shesterkin (Arb Rights)
  • Filip Chytil
  • Brett Howden
  • Julien Gauthier
  • Libor Hajek

I fully expect for expansion draft purposes all will receive their qualifying offers as soon as possible. Ryan Lindgren was a pending RFA but was signed immediately after the season.

Pavel Buchnevich

rangers restricted free agents
Feb 4, 2021; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Pavel Buchnevich (89) celebrates after scoring an empty net goal against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Buchnevich had his best offensive campaign with 46 points in 68 games. The 24 year-old was scoring at a clip of .67 points per game and now finds himself as the top right wing averaging .88 points per game this past season. He finished the year with 48 points in 54 games.

He was earning $3.25 million and will seek anywhere from $6 to $7.5 million on his next deal depending on length. More term, more money. The Rangers are probably looking for a number under $6 which they could get on a one year deal/award most likely.

Buchnevich finished as the 7th highest scoring RW, and 35th highest scoring forward in the NHL. He had more points than the Leafs’ William Nylander who earns $6.96 million and signed in 2018. That was pre flat cap so let’s look at the Jackets’ Oliver Bjorkstand (44 points) who signed in January of 2021 for $5.4 million. He and Buchnevich have a similar amount of points which is why I believe a fair number for Buchnevich is $5.75 million per for the next three to five seasons.

Igor Shesterkin

igor shesterkin
Apr 13, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) makes a glove save against the New Jersey Devils during the third period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The organization views Shesterkin as the number one goalie and believes he can backstop them to a Cup Championship. That alone should be enough for the Rangers to go long term on a new deal.

This past season, Igor Shesterkin made 35 appearances winning 16 of those games. The 25 year-old was tied for 7th in the NHL in SV% (.916), and 11th in GAA (2.62) for all goalies having played at least 25 games. When you use that same minimum games played among rookies, Shesterkin was the top backstop in SV% and ranked second in GAA to only Dallas Stars netminder Jake Oettinger (2.36).

Two recent contracts that could serve as benchmarks for a new Shesterkin deal are Thatcher Demko in Vancouver and Jordan Binnington in St. Louis.

Demko who is 25 years of age signed a five year deal worth $5 million per season with the Canucks last year. The 27 year-old Binnington inked a six year deal for $6 million AAV after winning a Stanley Cup on a two year-deal worth $4.4 million per season.

If Shesterkin were to sign a bridge deal he could see something in the $3.5 to $4.5 range for two years. Now should Drury want to lock him up a little longer the cost would be closer to $5.5 million. That’s if the deal is for at least four years, should they want to add term it will start to climb to the tune of a half million for each year they add on.

Filip Chytil

filip chytil
Mar 6, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New York Rangers center Filip Chytil (72) celebrates his third period goal against New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood (29) at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Chytil may very well be one of the key pieces moved in a trade for a center this summer. That includes possibly Jack Eichel, Evgeny Kuznetsov, or Sean Monahan.

However, trading his RFA rights will not yield the same return as if he were signed. He’d be more attractive if he was locked in with a bridge deal of 2-3 years in length. Should the Rangers be unable to make a deal for a center, Chytil would be very valuable to the Blueshirts who lack depth at that position.

The 21 year-old showed real promise this season despite an injury to his wrist. In 42 games, he scored 22 points a .14 points per game improvement over his previous year. He’s coming off his ELC that had a cap hit of $1.244 million thanks to performance bonuses. A fair bridge deal would probably come in at $2 to 2.5 million.

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