Top right-wing options likely will be available for Rangers in 2024 NHL free agency

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

LAS VEGAS — Should the New York Rangers want to swim in the deep waters of NHL free agency beginning Monday, it appears all of the top right-wing options could be available for them to consider.

The chatter here in Sin City is that Jonathan Marchessault, Patrick Kane and Steven Stamkos will reach UFA status Monday. Sam Reinhart is more of a toss up as his agent continues to try and get a deal done with the Florida Panthers.

And Jake Guentzel? Well, the Carolina Hurricanes traded Guentzel’s negotiating rights to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a 2025 third-round draft pick Sunday. The Lightning just freed up some cash after making two big trades Saturday, unloading defenseman Mikhail Sergachev and forward Tanner Jeannot, and likely wouldn’t give up a third rounder if they weren;t confident of signing Guentzel before Monday

So, that leaves Stamkos on the outs after 16 seasons, 555 goals and two Stanley Cup championships with the Lightning.

NHL Insider Pierre LeBrun reported Friday that Stamkos’ agent, Don Meehan, texted him that the Lightning captain “will be a free agent on July 1.”

Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said Friday, “both sides are interested in getting a deal done.” But the issue, shockingly, is cost and term. It’d be a tough blow if the Lightning lost the franchise icon who scored 40 goals this past season. But that appears how it’s shaking out.

Kane is still speaking with the Detroit Red Wings but appears headed to the open market. And Marchessault and the Vegas Golden Knights want to get a deal done, but it could go down to the wire because of, yes, the dollars and cents (More so the dollars!).

Related: Patrick Kane linked again to Rangers ahead of 2024 NHL free agency

Rangers to decide soon if they’ll chase top-end free agents to play right wing

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

But even if these All-Stars are all available July 1, can and/or will the Rangers try to land one of them? Guentzel and Reinhart are probably the most expensive options. Because of their age, Kane (36), Stamkos (34) and Marchessault (33) could be more affordable, though certainly not cheap.

Then there’s the next level of free agent right wings like Tyler Toffoli, Anthony Duclair and Vladimir Tarasenko.

Any of these forwards mentioned is a better option that Jack Roslovic, who skated alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider after the NHL trade deadline this past season. After meager production, Roslovic, who hits the open market Monday, ended up on the fourth line by the end of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with Kaapo Kakko, Filip Chytil and Alex Wennberg each getting turns as top-line right wing.

Speaking of Kakko, the 23-year-old was not traded Friday when the Rangers stood pat in the first round of the draft and selected defenseman EJ Emery with the No. 30 overall pick.

“It’s not something we really talked about, we just went about our business,” Rangers director of player personnel and amateur scouting John Lilley explained. “We were comfortable with the way the list was falling as to who we were going to get. So, we just stayed pat.”

If the Rangers want in on the best free-agent right wings Monday, they’ll need more cap space. Especially looking ahead to next season, when Igor Shesterkin (UFA), Alexis Lafreniere (RFA) and K’Andre Miller (RFA) are due major raises. As it stands, the Rangers have a projected $13.695 million in available cap space.

That’s why the most buzz around the Rangers is about them trading captain Jacob Trouba to rid the cap of his $8 million salary each of the next two seasons. Of course, it’s not that simple since the Blueshirts would also need to replace him in the lineup.

The clock continues to tick, now here in Las Vegas, and then back home in New York on Monday.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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