Rebuild Over! Expect the New York Rangers to go all out this summer
I am not sure if there is any other way to frame this in light of what has transpired over the last 24 hours. Today’s comments by Chris Drury only seems to take the plan Jeff Gorton had this summer and dial it up 11. That’s an homage to any of fans old enough to know the classic that is This Is Spinal Tap.
When it comes to the “rebuild” it sounds like it should be considered over. Drury made it clear that he takes this job “very, very, very seriously.” His mission to the fanbase was direct. “My goal is to bring a Cup to MSG. Period.”
All in for Jack Eichel or another top center
The expectations around the league is that Jack Eichel will likely be traded this summer. It’s quite possible, and I am speculating that part of the desire for a change from Dolan was the inability to get him this season. The Rangers did indeed have a “reasonable offer” on the table but were unable to get it done.
“I really believe in what we’ve accomplished since The Letter. We have a lot of good pieces & it’s an exciting time for the org,” Drury explained. “When the season ends, we’re going to take a look at everything and see if we can take the next step and make ourselves a playoff team.” The new head man also said that fans would be excited with what the team does this summer.
If my interpretations from knowledgable sources are correct, they are going to be all in for the center this summer. A big package that includes either Ryan Strome or Pavel Buchnevich as the roster player would be the starting point. Add in Vitali Kravtsov, Zac Jones, and first round pick for good measure to get it done.
If the Sabres can get better than that, so be it. The Rangers know that Eichel isn’t the only center that will be available this summer. Names expected to be shopped are Aleksander Barkov, Evgeni Malkin, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Of those pivots, only Barkov would be as steep a price.
Rangers adding a veteran defense
The New York Rangers realize an entire blue-line of kids may not be the fastest way to playoff success. Larry Brooks touched on this in a recent column, but Forever Blueshirts has learned that the plan is to indeed add a veteran defenseman to the top six.
The Blueshirts are likely to take a swing in the UFA market for a blue-liner. This crop of free agents has some potential names that would drastically improve the defense and make them harder to play against.
David Savard is a 30 year-old right handed defenseman who plays it tough in his own end. The Lightning who traded for him may not be able to re-sign him and that means he will hit the open market. The other potential target is Jamie Oleksiak with the Dallas Stars. He is only 28 years of age and a left handed shot and likely a better fit. Dallas is rumored to do whatever it takes to sign him before free agency begins. So it is very possible he won’t be there when the bell rings to open up the buying.
There are plenty of other names to chose from on the open market. Edmonton’s Adam Larsson is just 28 years-old and a pending UFA. Another name is Alec Martinez out in Vegas. Rangers fans remember him for hammering the final nail in the Blueshirts Stanley Cup coffin in 2014, but he could be the right veteran to groom the young blue-line along with Jacob Trouba.
Rangers need more toughness on the 4th line
Here’s a piece of advice for the Rangers, go out and kill two birds with one stone. Sign Islanders center Casey Cizikas. Not a large player at 5-11 and 195 lbs, Cizikas can still be the lynchpin to a stellar fourth line and win key face-offs. Losing draws is something the Rangers desperately need to address this offseason as well.
Cizikas is 30 years-old and is coming off a deal that paid him $3.35 million. That seems expensive for a fourth line player, but maybe the Rangers should invest in shoring up that hole. The beauty about signing him away from the Isles is that it means creating a hole they need to fill and breaks up the best 4th line in the NHL of a division foe.
That being said, it isn’t enough. While Morgan Barron can easily play the wing on that line, Drury needs to look at another veteran winger. Jordan Martinook with the Carolina Hurricanes is someone that fits the bill for me. He willl turn 29 in July but can play a high intensity style with an in-your-face attitude at 6-1 and 204 lbs. Martinook won’t come cheap as he’s coming off a deal paying $2 million, and looking for an increase. Another plus, Martinook can also take some draws.
Another option is 29 year-old center Riley Sheahan in Buffalo. The 6-3, 214 lbs pivot can win draws and help in a 4th line capacity. He’s coming off a deal worth only $700,000 and could be a more economical option.
Drury should think about a protector
The Tom Wilson incident was a painful lesson that the Rangers better learn from.
This Rangers squad is built to be a skilled team with next to no bite heading into next season. They are a star studded bunch with a lot of young skilled kids just finding their way. Superstars and kids that will need protecting.
There are some promising prospects that could be that answer in the future like Will Cuylle and Braden Schneider but they aren’t NHL ready yet. Ryan Reaves out in Vegas has one more year on his contract, maybe the Rangers should get ahead of it an aim for a trade this summer. Another possibility if the money works would be Milan Lucic in Calgary.
A new head coach is likely coming
When asked about the future of David Quinn, Drury would not discuss publicly the future of anyone’s job. Take that as you will, but it does not bode well for most coaches. If there was no intention to make a change behind the bench this was on opportunity for him or Glen Sather to say so.
Sather further commented that there will be a lot of decisions to be made next week. A coaching change appears to be a likely as I deduced yesterday.
There will also be a number of highly qualified candidates available this offseason. Gerard Gallant comes to mind as does Claude Julien. Could there be a possible reunion with John Tortorella on the horizon? Chris Drury knows Torts well having played for him in New York from 2008 until his retirement in 2011 where he served as captain.
I know this sounds insane, but in a season of crazy ,bringing Torts back may be the most rational move in all of this.