Rangers first offseason job: re-sign all their RFAs
A jolt of life was infused across the Rangers fan base (and organization) this past week when the team luckily acquired the second overall pick in this year’s draft. As time ticks closer to draft day and free agency, it’s important that the Rangers higher-ups bring back all of their restricted free agents that need to sign on the dotted line before next year.
Each one of these guys are set to become restricted free agents, and since the Rangers have control to extend their contracts before any other team can, that’s exactly what they need do.
Pavel Buchnevich (23 y/o, $925,000)
Many in the Rangers fan base was quick to give the cold shoulder to the Russian forward in his early career. However, in the second half of this past season, Buchnevich showed that his potential has yet to be reached. During the last ten games of the season, Buchnevich tallied 9 points, while producing a 7 game point streak during that span.
The explanation behind the forward’s productivity is quite simple, in my opinion. When Buchnevich is given a shot each and every night like he was post-deadline, he excels. The KZB top line (Kreider, Zibanejad, Buchnevich) was by far the strongest line the Rangers had all year long. Buchnevich finished the year with 38 points in 64 games. If we look ahead under Quinn he should be in the top-six and I expect that these numbers will continue to climb.
As far as a new contract, which is needed, there is no question that the Rangers will bring Buchnevich back. With what he did in the second half and the scoring presence he can bring on the wing and power play, Buchnevich showed the Rangers that he’s worth a deal for the next couple years at a value number.
Editor’s Prediction: 3-4 years at $3M per
Brendan Lemieux (23 y/o, $839,167)
I mean come on with Mr.Lemieux! This guy immediately showed how important a gritty, hard-nosed presence can bring a team. It took Lemieux 19 games to become a fan favorite in New York, and even though he only tallied six points, that wasn’t exactly what he was brought here to do.
He’s the guy every team needs, and the guy the Rangers haven’t had in a while. He will drop the mitts, get in your goalies face, and fly up and down the ice while getting in all of the dirty areas. When being acquired from Winnipeg in the Kevin Hayes deal, it was said the he was brought to New York per the request of David Quinn, and aren’t we all glad about that now.
Editor’s Prediction: 3 years at $2.5M per
Neal Pionk (23 y/o, $925,000)
The 23-year-old defenseman certainly has had his ups and down this past year, to say the least. Pionk found himself on the wrong side of many plays in the defensive zone this year, and even though he finished the year north of 20 points, the overall feeling of Neal Pionk’s game came with some worry.
But that doesn’t mean the team is going to give up on him – because they won’t. When Pionk burst onto the scene for 28 games now two season ago, he showed that he can play with the big boys. And at just 23, Pionk will find himself a new deal with the Rangers, even if his game is expected to improve going into next year.
Editor’s Prediction: 2 years at $1.5M per
Tony DeAngelo (23 y/o, $863,333)
Arguably the best Rangers defenseman throughout the year is due for a new contract as well. Since coming over from Arizona, he’s played in 93 games and tallied 38 points. He was also the only Rangers defenseman to hit the 30 point mark this year, and led the crew in ice-time as well. Which was certainly a come out party for DeAngelo this year, the fiery offensive-defenseman has the highest of standards when he returns with a new contract
Editor’s Prediction: 3-4 years at $3.5M per
Fredik Claesson (26 y/o, $700,000)
The last RFA the Rangers have this year is defenseman Fredik Claesson. He played in 37 games in his first year in New York, and did pretty much what he was expected to do, if not a little more.
Re-signing Claesson to the same, if not similar contract as he had last year to provide the Rangers depth on the back end can be important, as you can never have too many defenseman.
Editor’s Prediction: Rangers may let him walk due to the amount of prospects like Ryan Lindgren and Libor Hajek competing for spots next season. If signed, 1 year at $850,000 at best which he can likely do better elsewhere
Editor: Anthony Scultore