Top New York Rangers stories to keep your eye on before next season
Here are the top New York Rangers stories to follow as the NHL works on finalizing the start for next season. The biggest story at the moment revolved around #1 draft pick Alexis Lafreniere.
Alexis Lafreniere at WJC and spot in the lineup
The Rangers have a good problem. Where should they play #1 overall pick Alexis Lafreniere next season? Here’s the safe play, start him on the third line with Filip Chytil and Julien Gauthier. Let the rookie ease his way into the NHL and give him PP minutes.
Now if Lafreniere looks like he can handle more, that’s when David Quinn will need to be creative. One option can be to move Chris Kreider to the right side. What does that mean for the rest of the lineup is unclear, but one of either him, Kaapo Kakko, or Pavel Buchnevich will be demoted to the third line.
However, the more imminent story is if the Rangers will allow Lafreniere to play at the WJC. It is expected that the Blueshirts will give Canada a decision this week.
Tony DeAngelo move to the left side
There has been a lot of talk about moving Tony DeAngelo to the left side for next season. The 25 year-old defenseman is no stranger to playing his offside as he did for many years in the OHL for the Sarnia Sting.
New York’s highest scoring rearguard is also on record with being open to moving to the left side. The primary reason for moving DeAngelo to the left is a simple one. They want to get him into the top four without dropping Adam Fox to the third pair.
Also, beyond Ryan Lindgren the Rangers don’t have a left defenseman that can play top four minutes. Newly signed Jack Johnson was meant to stabilize the third pair on the left side, not replace Marc Staal. I would not be surprised if Johnson is in a rotation with with a young defenseman as well.
Tarmo Reunanen and Libor Hajek
The Rangers are hoping at least one young defenseman claims a spot on left defense next season. As of right now, Libor Hajek has the inside track to win the job, but Tarmo Reunanen is going to get a hard look too.
K’Andre Miller will be a top four lefty for the Rangers defense. However, he would only add to the cap woes caused by so many performance bonuses. It would also be smart not to rush him and give Miller one season in the AHL.
Trading Pavel Buchnevich?
The topic of trading Pavel Buchnevich is going to be one that grows as the season progresses. He is entering the final year of his contract that comes with an AAV of $3.25 million. When the deal ends he will be an RFA with arbitration rights.
What Jeff Gorton needs to decide is where he sees Vitali Kravtsov in this lineup. If the answer is in the top six, then Buchnevich becomes expendable and could be used as a trade chip at the deadline.
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