Rangers Rumors: Flat cap squeeze on free agents, Tarasenko and Kane

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The latest New York Rangers rumors buzz isn’t centered around restricted free agent Alexis Lafreniere, who is expected to sign a bridge deal before training camp. It actually involves the batch of unrestricted free agents that remain unsigned well after the opening bell rang on July 1.

That includes former Blueshirts like Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrick Kane, and Tyler Motte. However, the NY Post’s Larry Brooks includes the following names as potential upgrades on low-cost deals.

  • Max Comtois (F)
  • Zack Kassian (F)
  • Jesse Puljujarvi (F)
  • Anders Bjork (F)
  • Colin White (C)
  • Danton Heinen (F)
  • Austin Watson (F)
  • Cal Foote (D)
  • Ethan Bear (D)

Rangers Rumors: More low-cost UFA signings?

Per CapFriendly, the Rangers currently have 46 out of a max 50 contracts on the books. Coupled with the fact that all the UFA signings made by Chris Drury this summer, including Blake Wheeler, were all well under the $1,150,000 threshold allowed by the CBA to bury a contract in the AHL it’s a possible they could add more players.

The prospect of signing even one of the players mentioned by Brooks is intriguing should they remain available closer to the start of training camp in September. However, their focus is on inking Lafreniere and they have around $3 million in cap space to do it.

That being said, bolstering the lineup due to the current cap squeeze on UFAs must be explored.

Here’s several other names that remain unsigned that may also be worthy of consideration:

  • Phil Kessel (F)
  • Nick Ritchie (F)
  • Caleb Jones (D)

Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane

NHL: New York Rangers at Buffalo Sabres
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, I know what you’re thinking.

Why are we talking about those guys when we could bring back Vladimir Tarasenko or Patrick Kane instead?

Let’s start off with it the fact I don’t believe either one of them will be open to taking a one-year deal at under $1 million. Even if they did, I would have to believe that they’d be pretty unhappy about it all season.

I am also in the camp of never say never, especially when it comes to Kane. The 34 year-old really wanted to play on the Rangers and will be unable to return to action until around December or January after undergoing hip surgery. Depending on the Rangers cap situation and what Kane wants to do, he could be a mid-season add.

Kane, registered 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists) in 19 regular-season matches and added 6 points (1 goal, 5 assists) in 7 postseason contests with the Blueshirts after being dealt from the Chicago Blackhawks.

With regards to Tarasenko, he’s already switched agents due to his current situation. It’s stunning that he’s yet to sign after hearing he had offers in the $5 million range. There’s no doubt the 31 year-old feels he’s worth more than that, but he’s likely better off taking a one-year deal and cashing in next summer when the cap ceiling goes up by $4 million.

Tarasenko picked up 50 points in 69 games last season notching 21 of those points in 31 matches with the Blueshirts. The big winger was also one of the team’s better playoff performers with 3 goals and 4 points in 7 playoff contests.

While it would be nice to bring him back, I just don’t see it as plausible this season.

Depending on how things shake out with the Erik Karlsson trade, Tarasenko could land with the Carolina Hurricanes. That’s the team many believed he was going to sign with before firing his agent. Another possibility could be a one-year deal with the Ottawa Senators.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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