Predicting which New York Rangers free agents will return next season
The New York Rangers have some marquee unrestricted free agents hitting the market on July 1 and a shoestring budget to deal with.
As we look ahead to the 2023-24 campaign, PuckPedia, estimated that the Blueshirts will have around $11,762,918 to fill out a roster that has just 14 signed.
Here’s our predictions for what is likely to happen with the Rangers pending UFAs.
New York Rangers UFAs
Vladimir Tarasenko: A strong man both on and off the puck, the 31 year-old was a nice fit to the Rangers style of play. He registered 50 points in 69 games this season while adding 3 goals and 4 points in 7 playoff matches. Although I wouldn’t rule out a return for Tarasenko, who values how he and his family are treated, once he hits the open market it will be tough for the Rangers to compete. Teams looking at Tarasenko will be contenders with cap space and the possibility of giving him 5+ years at $7 million or more.
Prediction: Rangers will attempt to re-sign him but unless they can shed Barclay Goodrow’s contract, I don’t see it.
Patrick Kane: The 34 year-old forward admitted to not being 100% after the Rangers were eliminated by the Devils. This offseason, he will be looking at what steps to take on his nagging hip injury to be at full strength. As for where he may be suiting up in 2023-24, it’s unlikely to be the Rangers, who have little cap space and key restricted free agents (Alexis Lafreniere and K’Andre Miller) to re-sign.
Prediction: Rangers may wait to see what Kane does about his hip and if he’ll be out for a lengthy amount of time. There’s a slim chance they could sign him and then put him on LTIR. In the end, I think Kane becomes a UFA. Is a homecoming with the Buffalo Sabres in the cards? That’s where I think he ends up.
Tyler Motte: The 28 year-old forward was really impressive in his second post trade deadline stint with the Blueshirts. Motte registered 5 goals and 5 assists in 24 regular season contests with the Rangers and is open to a return. If GM Chris Drury is willing to give Motte some security in terms of years on his contract, I believe the Rangers can retain him.
Prediction: The Rangers and Motte will come to terms on at least a 3-year deal with an AAV around $1.25M to $1.55M.
Niko Mikkola: The 27 year-old defenseman played very well for the Rangers since coming over with Tarasenko from the St. Louis Blues. Mikkola will certainly draw enough interest on the open market as a 6-4, 210 pounds physical blue-liner.
Prediction: Rangers are unlikely to afford a multi-year deal with an AAV north of $2 million, so he will walk.
Jaroslav Halak: If the 38 year-old backstop feels like he has one more season in him, the Rangers could easily go back to the well liked veteran. Despite a slow beginning where he won only once in 8 starts (1-6-1), he settled down and rattled off 7 straight wins from December to February to help turn both his and the team’s season around.
Prediction: Rangers need to save on every penny, but if Halak is up for another one-year deal at $1.5 million or less, he could come back.