The New York Rangers were in on one of the top free agents last week in Phillip Danault. Just how close did they get?
According to Elliotte Friedman in his latest 31 Thoughts podcast, real close.
New York Rangers rumors: Phillip Danault
The Blueshirts had been fairly quiet heading into the opening of the free agent season. Multiple reports came out the day before suggesting they and the Golden Knights were two teams very interested in signing the free agent center.
Ultimately, the Los Angeles Kings signed the former first-round pick Phillip Danault to a six-year, $33 million contract The 28 year-old pivot was fresh off leading the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Final. He led all forwards in shorthanded time on ice and faceoff wins during the playoffs. He also finished sixth in Selke Trophy voting this past season.
“LA went hard – like they outbid the Rangers,” Friedman revealed. “I don’t know if they gave him an extra year or a bit more money, but they were willing to go to a place that the Rangers weren’t willing to go. You know that’s why they got him.”
Danault would have been a perfect third line center for the Blueshirts. However; at 6 years with a cap hit of $5.5 million is probably one year and $1 million per season too much for me.
Are the Rangers eyeing Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith?
One could chalk this up to Friedman spitballing, but if you ask me, I would qualify it as calculated speculation. A reporter like Friedman is not someone who likes to mention names for the sake of generating buzz. He’s gone on record letting people know that he doesn’t like putting names out there and being wrong.
So why mention Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith? A long track record of success with new head coach Gerard Gallant in both Florida and Vegas.
“One of the reasons Reilly Smith’s name is all over the rumor mill is because Gerard Gallant loves him too,” Friedman noted. And why wouldn’t he make this connection after the Rangers traded for Ryan Reaves and then extended him for a season.
Reilly is a right wing. Hmmm, did the Rangers just not trade one of those away in Pavel Buchnevich? If the Blueshirts trade for Jack Eichel and indeed move Vitali Kravtsov or Kaapo Kakko in the deal, Smith may be manning the right side on one of the top two lines.
The 30 year-old notched 14 goals and 25 points in 53 games last season. While his regular season numbers won’t WOW you, his playoff stats shows he can score when it counts. He has 65 points in 84 post season games. In Vegas’ Stanley Cup run in 2018 he notched 22 points in 20 games.
Pretty easy to see why Gallant would want him. Smith has only one year left on a deal with an affordable cap hit of $5M AAV.
Rounding out the Rangers rumors
Friedman also noted that Igor Shesterkin is looking for a deal north of $6 million per season. While that number is his ask, the final deal should come in under based on term.
Ryan Strome’s name persists in the rumor mill, but I contend that unless the Rangers are able to pull off a Jack Eichel trade, he will stay put.
Frank Seravalli is also adamant that despite Alexandar Georgiev’s agent refuting his report, the goaltender is still on the block.
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