Rangers have some excellent free agent center options tomorrow
There is no mystery surrounding the New York Rangers and their desire to add a center. In the last few days several centers have become available and could be viable options for Jeff Gorton tomorrow.
Alexander Wennberg (26 years-old)
The Columbus Blues Jackets have just bought out Swedish center, Alexander Wennberg. While his production has slipped over the last few years, the move was primarily financial.
Here’s why Wennberg is of great interest. He was drafted by Columbus while John Davidson was at the helm. When the Jackets acquired Artemi Panarin, John Tortorella had this to say, “I’m going to match him with Wennberg who I think is one of the better playmakers in the league.”
When Panarin and Wennberg were paired they did a great job in the possession game. The issue is they need a trigger man since both players are pass first guys. If Kaapo Kakko is committed to shooting the puck as he showed in the qualifying round, this could work.
Of course, how much will Wennberg want and can he rediscover his game with Panarin? His best season was in 2016-17 where he notched 59 points, the decline has been pretty steep since. Note that Panarin joined the Jackets in 2017-18.
Since Alex is just 26 he could experience a resurgence. Worse case, if the deal is right he could play 3rd line center and distribute pucks there. It wouldn’t hurt Alexis Lafreniere and Vitali Kravtsov to have a legit playmaker on that line.
Kyle Turris (31 years-old)
The Predators have bought out Kyle Turris, and the Rangers could give him a look on a one or two year deal. Obviously, the deal has to fit financially and the term can’t be more than one or two years.
Turris is decent on face-offs, and has a career CF% of 51 (playing on some bad teams too). He’d make a nice third line center for a team looking to improve down the middle.
Turris notched 9 goals in and 31 points in 62 games last season. He has 50 point potential, and that could benefit young wingers like Vitali Kravtsov, Brendan Lemieux, or Julien Gauthier.
Mikko Koivu (37 years old)
This Finnish center is long in the tooth and would be a one year deal on the cheap. His contract would be bonus laden and he would make a nice mentor to Kaapo Kakko next season.
You can call this a low risk / moderate reward type deal if the Rangers really can’t find anyone else out there. He would be a third line center at best for this team and allows the Rangers to bring back Strome at a decent price.
While I am not giddy over this idea, it would not hurt to have a reliable center who can still score. Koivu is also a face-off master with a career average of 54% and that can come in handy too.
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