Top New York Rangers offseason storylines to follow

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Mar 17, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers associate general manager Chris Drury works the bench during a game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden. Due to the NHL COVID-10 protocol, the Rangers coaching staff were not available for tonights game. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers are off to the races this offseason. As information is expected come at us fast and furiously, here are the top storylines to follow until next season’s opening puck drop.

Who will coach the Rangers in 2021-22

You must have heard by now, but the Blueshirts have opted to relieve David Quinn of his head coaching duties. “I would like to thank David Quinn, David Oliver, Jacques Martin, and Greg Brown for all of their efforts and dedication to the Rangers,” Chris Drury said via a press release. “I wish each of them the best in their future endeavors. We will begin our search for a new head coach immediately.”

As soon as the firings of both John Davidson and Jeff Gorton took place it was expected that Quinn would be the next to fall. Already at that time two names were immediately brought to my attention and they were John Tortorella and Gerard Gallant. Since then, names like Bruce Boudreau, Patrick Roy, and Claude Julien followed. Another name that came up was Mike Babcock, but that sounded like it was coming more from his camp as having interest in the job.

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Larry Brooks who broke the firing noted the new coach must be an experienced one.

It is expected that Drury will replace Quinn with an experienced NHL head coach who will face a mandate to take the Blueshirts to the next level, and sooner rather than later. Gerard Gallant, Rick Tocchet, Bob Hartley, John Tortorella, Mike Babcock and Patrick Roy are among the early candidates to follow Quinn, who came to New York three years ago after a successful stint behind the bench at Boston University.

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As far as I know, John Tortorella has the inside track and the Rangers don’t want to drag this on. Expect a decision before June.

Who will the Rangers lose in the Seattle Expansion

The Seattle Kraken will start to build their hockey team on July 21st. That is the date set for the Expansion Draft. We know that Blueshirts will be exposing Tony DeAngelo for certain. It is unlikely the Kraken go that route, so we look at some other possibilities in the early going.

I believe it will come down to Brett Howden and Julien Gauthier. Each suffered an injury to end their seasons, so I don’t think that will factor in the selection. My thought is that Howden would be their choice. He’s a young and responsible defensive center, and pivots are always at a premium. Remember, the Golden Knights selected Oscar Lindberg back in 2017.

Will the Rangers trade for Jack Eichel or another top center

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The Jack Eichel trade watch is officially on in New York. On the heels of his public comments about being upset (again) with the Sabres, this time over his injury, he may be playing elsewhere. Today, GM Kevyn Adams stated that Eichel has not requested a trade.

That may be the case, but how are we all supposed to take him saying, “I want to be healthy to play next season, WHEREVER that might be”? The Rangers remain the front runners to land Eichel with the L.A. Kings close behind.

Of course, Eichel may not be the only available center this summer. Two other names are on the Rangers short list if they are made available. One is Aleksander Barkov, the other is Evgeny Kuznetsov. For me, I’d steer clear of the latter at this point. Another veteran possibility will be Evgeni Malkin but the cost could be Vitali Kravtsov and more.

Who will the Rangers add to the blue-line

The Blueshirts are going to be adding a veteran to the blue-line, most likely through free agency. Depending on how things shake out on the Eichel front, I doubt they would be in the market for David Savard. The growing consensus is a defenseman like Alec Martinez would fit the bill for next season.

There is always the option to re-sign Brendan Smith as well.

How will the Rangers revamp the bottom six

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This is probably one of the biggest reasons from a lineup standpoint why the old regime was changed. The Rangers need to change their bottom six to be able to battle in the tough Eastern Conference. I’ve already dropped some potential UFA’s like Casey Cizikas, Jordan Martinook, and Riley Sheehan here.

Chris Drury could also look to the trade market and see if adding a Ryan Reaves or Milan Lucic makes sense. In particular Lucic would interest me, but only if Calgary ate 50% of his salary and the cost was a mid round pick.

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