Rangers Roundup: Ryan Strome out versus Penguins, Shesterkin starts, NHL cap going up, and more

The New York Rangers will be playing a big game against the Pittsburgh Penguins without their second line center Ryan Strome.

He played the first period against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, but on his last shift with under two minutes to play it looked like he was having an issue skating. Strome did not return for the second period after suffering a lower-body injury.

New York Rangers Ryan Strome day-to-day

The Rangers held a morning skate with Strome absent. He has traveled with the team and is possible for Wednesday night in Detroit versus the Red Wings.

“The trainer tells me day-to-day, so he’s possible for tomorrow but I don’t know,” Gerard Gallant said via the team’s YouTube channel.

Strome, 28, has 45 points (15G -30A) through 62 games this season for the Blueshirts. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and there has been very little progress made on an extension at this point.

Per multiple reports, Andrew Copp appears to be taking his place as the second line center with Dryden Hunt being moved up. He will also play on the first power play unit. In addition, it looks like Ryan Reaves will be back on the fourth line.

“I feel like a can dictate the pace of play more in the middle,” Copp said after practice. “Part of that the learning curve is understanding and I was doing a little too much thinking the last game. So just trying to dictate the pace and make (the opposition) defend us most nights.”

“Going to center was a bit of an adjustment,” Copp said after the Sabres game. “All and all, I’m starting to figure out what all my line mates are doing.”

Gallant also addressed Copp filling in for Strome in the middle.

“I’m trying to put the best lineup together for tonight’s game,” Gallant explained. “He can play center– he prefers center but he can play either wing. He’s got no issues with it. Wherever he plays is fine.”

Igor Shesterkin starts versus Penguins

Igor Shesterkin
Feb 26, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) stands for the national anthem before the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

While Chris Kreider logged two goals and an assist last Friday for the Rangers in a 5-1 win over the visiting Penguins, it was Igor Shesterkin who backstopped the victory.

Shesterkin, 26, made 20 saves on 21 shots as the Penguins rarely had any prime scoring chances. That is unlikely to be the case on Tuesday night as Evgeni Malkin, who missed the last contest returned to the lineup on Sunday against the Red Wings and netted a hat-trick in an 11-2 rout.

“Obviously, we weren’t happy with that performance,” Penguins winger Danton Heinen said. “We’ve got a lot of pride in that (locker) room, and we take it personally. Yeah, that was a good bounce-back game, but we’ve got them coming in on Tuesday, so that will be another big test. We’ve got to ramp up the intensity.”

In 7 career games against the Penguins, Shesterkin is 3-3-1 with a .913 SV% and a 2.43 GAA.

NHL Salary Cap going up

The NHL after much speculation have made next season’s salary cap official. It will indeed go up by $1 Million to $82.5 Million. A minor increase, but every little bit will help the cap-strapped New York Rangers.

This summer, the Rangers will need to figure out what they are going to do with all their pending free agents listed below:

  • Kaapo Kakko (RFA)
  • Sammy Blais (RFA)
  • Alexandar Georgiev (RFA)
  • Libor Hajek (RFA)
  • Julien Gauthier (RFA)
  • Ryan Strome (UFA)
  • Andrew Copp (UFA)
  • Frank Vatrano (UFA)
  • Tyler Motte (UFA)
  • Kevin Rooney (UFA)
  • Justin Braun (UFA)
  • Greg McKegg (UFA)

NHL Rumors

Will J.T. Miller be available this offseason? It’s possible when you hear what his next contract could be. Plus the Blackhawks GM addresses leaks about trade talks with the Maple Leafs. Read more.