Should the New York Rangers sign a veteran defenseman?

The New York Rangers don’t have much cap space left heading into next season. According to CapFriendly, it’s just around a million at the moment ($1,008,531).

In a recent article by Larry Brooks of the NY Post, he suggests that GM Chris Drury may be in the market for a veteran left defenseman in the $800,000 range.

Gallant likes size, we all know that, and he doubly likes size on the back end, we all sure know that. Which is why the club’s options for the third-pair left defenseman assignment that appears to be between Zac Jones and Libor Hajek — a healthy scratch 60 times, for goodness sakes — are so intriguing. Will there be a push to add an $800,000-type veteran during camp if the coach is not enamored with what he sees?

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Should the New York Rangers sign a veteran defenseman?

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Jan 2, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Zac Jones (6) skates with the puck during the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the lineup for next season, it appears five of their six defenseman are locked into the lineup. There is a big opening on the third-pair left side to play with sophomore Braden Schneider.

So should the Rangers look at a veteran left defenseman for next season?

First, let’s look at the current landscape.

Zac Jones has the inside track for the job with Libor Hajek likely to earn the role as the 7th defenseman. A wild card to the mix is highly-touted prospect Nils Lundkvist, but he has to make the switch from the right side to earn the job.

Jones, 21, is in the final year of his entry-level deal that comes with a low cap hit of $925,000. He’s shown he has the ability to play in the NHL using his high hockey IQ to compensate for his size at 5-11, 185lbs.

It would be wise for the Rangers to give this talented defender a long look before possibly trading him at the deadline.

However, if the Rangers really feel the need for a veteran LD, they should wait until the preseason and sign one to a PTO (Professional Tryout). Should one of the youngsters not seize the role, New York would have a failsafe already in place.

What is a PTO? It’s basically a contract that teams can offer unsigned free agents in order to invite them to training camp. This will give the club a closer look at a potential free agent they may want to sign.

Potential PTO candidates

danny dekeyser
Apr 16, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox (23) and Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser (65) collide during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

One potential PTO candidate is Calvin de Haan. Last season, he recorded 8 points in 69 games for the Blackhawks with a cap hit of $4.55M AAV. Even if he were to come to camp on a tryout, would he sign for one-year at around league minimum?

Another option could be Ryan Murray, who played 37 games with the Avalanche in 2021-22. The 28 year-old picked up 4 points in those contests.

Red Wings veteran Danny DeKeyser is also interesting. The 32 year-old rearguard just wrapped up a 6-year deal with an AAV of $5 million and there’ve been no takers on the free agent market to date. In 2021-22, he picked up 11 assists in 59 contests.

Keith Yandle is another veteran that might make some Rangers fans smile and others cringe. While his best years are behind him, he can still move the puck and is a great team guy. The 35 year-old notched 19 points in 77 games for the hapless Flyers.

At the end of the day, the Rangers should go with the kids to start the season. That being said, it may not hurt to have an established veteran ready to go.

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