Rangers Rumors: Gerard Gallant dismissal, Alexis Lafreniere, Will Cuylle and Brennan Othmann
The New York Rangers are well past the hot and heavy action that you normally see after the NHL Draft and Free Agent Frenzy.
General Manager Chris Drury took care of business with low-cost veteran free agent signings to fill holes heading into the 2023-24 campaign. Key players like Blake Wheeler, Tyler Pitlick, Nick Bonino, and Jonathan Quick will all have key roles under new head coach Peter Laviolette.
With the signing of restricted free agent defenseman K’Andre Miller taken care of on July 11th, that just leaves fellow RFA Alexis Lafreniere to get done.
Let’s take a look at the latest Rangers Rumors buzz.
Rangers Rumors: Gerard Gallant dismissal
The Rangers and Gerard Gallant mutually agreed to part ways after the team’s disappointing first round loss in 7 games to the New Jersey Devils.
Gallant, 59, lasted just two years of his four-year contract. Over that time, he amassed a record of 99-46-19 with a .662 points percentage. However, his 13-14 postseason record coupled with back-to-back series losses after taking a 2-0 lead factored into the equation.
According to the NY Post’s Larry Brooks, several veterans were critical of Gallant during their exit interviews with Drury.
Laviolette, 58, was the best available choice for the Rangers boasting a Stanley Cup ring won in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes. He also has a career coaching record of 752-503-25-150 with a 78-76 mark in the playoffs and been to three Stanley Cup Finals (2006, 2010, 2017).
During his introductory presser, Laviolette stressed a focus on work ethic and compete-level. That being said, he also is very big on playing with structure which is exactly what the veterans complained about.
Lafreniere, 21, registered 16 goals and 23 assists for 39 points in 81 games last season. He’s been dealing with trade speculation since former head coach Gerard Gallant made him a healthy scratch last January.
“I don’t worry about rumors,” he told Le Journal de Montreal. “I’m happy with the Rangers.”
The pending RFA remains unsigned but revealed that he spoke with Drury and isn’t worried about getting a deal done.
Speculation has it that he’s expected to sign a one or two year deal for somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.1 to $2.7 million. The Rangers currently have around $3 million in cap space.
Will Cuylle and Brennan Othmann
There was a lot belief in Rangerstown that because the team was so cap strapped it would present an opportunity for key prospects.
Both Will Cuylle and Brennan Othmann were believed to be in line for legit chances to play in the NHL this season. However, no one could’ve projected Blake Wheeler signing for one-year at just $800,000 on July 1st.
That doesn’t mean these players won’t get a look at some point in 2023-24.
Cuylle, 21, recorded 25 goals, 20 assists, for 45 points in 69 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack as a rookie. His play earned him two call-ups with the Blueshirts this past season. While he failed to record a point in four NHL games averaging just 6:58 per night, he was still noticeable with 8 hits, 1 shot and 10 penalty minutes on 2 fighting majors.
Othmann, 20, registered 29 goals and 38 assists for 67 points in 56 matches split between the Flint Firebirds and Petes last season. In the playoffs, he led the team with 8 goals and 17 assists for 25 points in 23 playoff games to help them win the OHL Championship.
It should be noted that all the Rangers’ UFA signings this summer were under the $1,150,000 threshold allowed by the CBA to bury a contract. That means the entire cap hit of those players comes off the books with a demotion to the AHL.
To begin the year, the expectation is that Cuylle and Othmann will be playing first line and power play minutes for the Pack.