State of the Rangers

How the roster might look in 2019-2020

Ryan McDonagh is scheduled to be a free agent in the summer of 2019 – but will he be retained?

This summer, The Hockey News has embarked on a noble quest to predict how teams’ rosters will look entering the 2019-2020 season.

To keep things simple no external free agents or trade acquisitions were taken into account, so this is an incomplete picture – but it’s still a fascinating exercise. Here’s what THN came up with for the Blueshirts:

A few thoughts right off the bat:

– Puempel, Nieves and Tambellini are likely only listed because no one outside the organization was taken into consideration. Perhaps one of them will nail down a job, but those spots seem most likely to change.

– Larry Brooks raised the question of McDonagh’s future in New York earlier in the summer, and I’m becoming more convinced that he’s not a lock to get a new contract when McDonagh becomes a free agent after next season. If the Ryan Callahan trade had never happened, I’d probably be scoffing at the notion the Blueshirts would even consider letting their captain walk. But with McDonagh potentially in line for a contract in excess of $7 million annually, things could become pretty tight for the Rangers against the cap.

– That, and it almost seems like the team has stumbled into a contingency plan already. Sure a lot of the moves this summer were simply for needed organizational depth and the Kevin Shattenkirk signing might have been an unexpected gift, but it now seems like there’s going to be a logjam on defense in short order. Shattenkirk, Skjei and Smith are givens and guys like DeAngelo and Sean Day – at the very least – seem like they’re a part of the team’s future plans. Pionk, Alexei Bereglazov and Ryan Graves could also be in the mix and there are a host of wild cards including Sergey Zborovskiy and Vince Pedrie behind them. Certainly most of those guys can’t hold a candle to McDonagh in terms of ability, but it still seems like there are going to more bodies than there are spots. A lot will depend on Skjei’s evolution, but it’s feasible that he and Shattenkirk could become the top pairing in a couple years time.

– Obviously Lundqvist will still be under contract and would be leaving a ton of money on the table if he decided to retire. But Lundqvist also strikes me as a guy that has interests off the ice and will be tortured if he can’t perform at his expected level. I can’t picture Lundqvist ever putting on another sweater – so I think it comes down to the question of whether he’d be amenable to a time-share with one of the organization’s up-and-comers.

In building my own ghost lineup I quickly realized why THN avoided trying to predict player movement around the league. There are just way too many dominoes to take into account, but I ignored the restrictions and came up with this as my dart throw attempt:




Obviously, you’ll notice that I only included one addition from outside the organization, Max Pacioretty. He’ll be a free agent after next season the same as McDonagh, and going with my earlier line of reasoning, I think the Blueshirts might be more in need of scoring help than a defender at that point in time. Pacioretty will be 30 years old in the summer of 2019 and still realistically have a few years of strong production ahead of him. And like Shattenkirk, he’s never made a secret of his lifelong adoration for the Blueshirts. He’d likely be a good deal cheaper than McDonagh and might help re-balance the lineup.

Other than that, I took the easy way out and filled the roster from within. You’ll notice big names like McDonagh, Marc Staal, Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello are missing from this lineup. I figure that most of the turnover will come from the older veterans that will hit free agency seeking one more big contract, while the Blueshirts will continue to replenish from within and re-sign their homegrown guys.

I’m also skeptical that Hayes will still be around. With Zibanejad inking an extension this summer and Andersson and Chytil on the way, I think Hayes might become a little too expensive and a little more expendable. But as with Skjei and McDonagh, the progression of Andersson and Chytil might dictate New York’s desire to keep Hayes.

So that’s it! I’m sure my roster will be nowhere close to accurate, but trust me – this was hard to figure out. Please comment below with your own roster and thoughts!

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  • i am looking forward to the upcoming season can the rangers build on getting Shattenkirk and going younger I see them having a little trouble making it to the playoffs because everybody in the metropolitan has gotten better

  • I actually like your thinking. I would add a player from the Leafs organization as they will have to move someone based on the long term contracts they signed.

    Moving McD should get us another center or scorer and a first round pick. Our defense should be good for a few years.

    • I have a hard time seeing McD getting traded. Still think the Rangers will be going for it each of the next two seasons and even if that means they risk losing him for nothing as a UFA, I can’t really imagine them trading him at the deadline with a playoff run looming

      • I think it depends on the return and he should be a very expensive get for any team going for him.Think a number 1, 26/27 yr old center.

  • Anything with Matt Puempel listed as part of NYR’s starting lineup is fundamentally flawed–I dig your list far more, Kevin!

    I think McDonagh either finishes his career as a Ranger or gets traded in this upcoming offseason. I hope he remains a Ranger–he’s a classy player whose athleticism & smarts make him the most subtly elite dman the Rangers have had since Leetch. He’s been a credit to the organization since he’s been here and will not easily be replaced. Looking for him to have his best season this year if he stays healthy.

  • I like your list as well Kevin and I believe that it comports with the way Gorton is steering the club. The Rangers have some players in their system who should make the club in a couple of years and they will be young, fleet and skilled as a result.

  • I agree about where Andersson and Philip C would be. I think the end game for those two are to be the teams bottom 6 centers in the near future. Once in a blue moon I read that those guys are going to replace Mika and Hayes.

    • Chytil may be a bottom six forward or he may be a washout, but I really don’t think you waste such a high draft pick on such a young player if you don’t see some scenarios where he really is an impact player.

      • I wouldn’t cut Chytil that short just yet. He is still very young and maybe the 2019-20 roster would only make the kid 19, but he may be on the big club and may be a real star with 2 years of real competition under his belt. He is already scoring goals against men.

      • ” waste such a high draft pick on such a young player if you don’t see some scenarios where he really is an impact player”

        Ray, he does have that potential. That’s why they picked him & took the risk.

        It’s the other one, the #7 pick, who many analysts think lacks an ‘elite’ ceiling.

        The Rangers figured, that by grabbing a ‘safe’ choice with the 7th, they could go gambling with the 21st.

        It’s interesting logic, I guess…

        • I think both you and SalMerc misunderstood me. When I implied it would have been dumb to draft Chytil so high if the Rangers couldn’t see the possibility of him being an elite talent, I was presuming that the Ranger brass did see that as a very real possibility – what they are hoping will come to pass.

  • Kevin, I appreciate the logic of comparing McD’s and Callahan’s contract situation on the basis of them both being captain of the Rangers. Personally, once you get past the ‘C’ the comparison ends.

    Ryan Callahan was a hard working middle six forward, McD is a legit top pair D. If Callahan was a top line forward talent, he never would have been dealt for St. Louis. The Rangers knew that, physically, Cally was a ticking time bomb and wanted nothing to do with giving him a long term contract. Sather played Cally beautifully in the press and made him look like he was greedy. That strategy gave Sather the wide berth with the fans he needed to make the unprecedented move of trading away his captain at the deadline while at the helm of a cup contender.

    The only way the Rangers decide to move on from McD would be if all these kids on D blew through their talent ceiling and the Rangers were all of a sudden sitting on 3 top pair caliber Ds AND McD. Otherwise, McD is staying. His raise won’t be massive, at best he’s looking at a $3M per year bump. I don’t see him breaking into the $9M per year club unless his offensive game takes a quantum leap forward.

    • Dd not mean to imply they carried the same value on the ice. However, my point was that money played a factor with Callahan, and it might with McDonagh, too. Unfortunately, there aren’t endless resources and while McD is invaluable at his current salary, that changes a bit if he demands over $7 million and the Blueshirts have other holes to fill to optimize the roster.

      • You’re right Kevin, but if the Rangers don’t develop another D, besides Skjei, to take McD’s place, they will have to pay him.

        Looking out to 19-20, when McD is no longer under contract, there really aren’t many commitments at the moment, Hank, Mika, Kreider, Fast, Shatty, Staal, and B. Smith, that’s it. This is why I don’t see Nash signing here long term, Gorton knows he needs cap space to sign his developing players and lock up long term the players he feels are essential and will age well. You don’t have to look further than the Rangers’ other recent draft pick from Wisconsin to see that thinking in action. Gorton felt Stepan was expendable because of the development of Mika/Hayes. Stepan was sent packing before his NMC kicked in. If Day, Bereglazov, and DeAngelo all develop into big time Ds in the next 15 months, then McD likely gets moved at the 2019 deadline. Barring that unlikely scenario, I see McD staying as the Rangers won’t be able to find a more cost effective replacement. Cap space is indeed limited, but there are certain players you have to be willing to expend that cap space on. McD, even at 30, should be one of those guys. His game shouldn’t fall off a cliff even if he loses a tick or two of foot speed.

        Anyway, sorry for picking on one point from your post, you mentioned Brooks, and that just got my blood up!

        • In all seriousness, McD already makes 4.7 million.

          What’s the most (realistically) he would get as a UFA?

          7 million? 7.5 million? Would he get more than (Norris trophy winning) Burns out in SJ?

          I don’t think so.

          So, in other words…. would an extra 3 million in spent cap space be such a back breaker that he gets shipped out instead of extended?

          Probably not, but you never know.

          • Yeah, that was kind of my point.

            It seems as Rangers fans many of us have become traumatized by Girardi’s and Staal’s precipitous declines and now many are assuming that any 30 year old is automatically ready for the glue factory. Not every 30 year old is hot garbage. The lesson from Staal and Girardi is to not let chemistry trump ability.

            McD is a borderline superstar in the NHL, barring back and leg injuries, he should age quite well. I would have zero issue if on July 1, 2018 the Rangers announce they have extended McD with a 6 year $42M contract with a full NTC

          • For me, it’s not so much a question of whether McD will be worth that new contract in a vacuum. I’m a huge fan of the player and he still has good years ahead of him.

            My question is whether that deal will make sense for the Rangers given their cap situation and roster makeup going forward.

    • McDonagh is twice the player Duchene is. Those 70 point days seem like they’ve already come & gone for Duchene….he’s already an 8-year vet on the decline. McDonagh is literally poised to break out this year, with Shattenkirk as his partner instead of the awful Dan Girardi.

        • ” the King and McD are so under appreciated.”

          This says it all. Even when he has nothing to do with the conversation, we have to hear about how good Hank is.

          • There’s a fan drive going on in Vegas, Ray–why don’t you get in on the ground floor of Vegas Knights fandom? You can say you were there, hating their best players from day 1.

          • I don’t agree with Justin on the relative importance of goalie play-making, but I greatly admire his opinions. I both agree and disagree with Richter1994 and E3 and Dave, sometimes quite strongly. But they and many others here appear to be real good people, people I would enjoy spending time with – and I guess I do. I even like some of the people that I almost never agree with.

            That said, my perception is that you are not a nice person. I’m probably wrong about that, but it is something to think about.

            Why are Girardi, Nash, Stepan, Staal, Gomez, Redden fair game for criticism and Hank not? IIRC (and maybe I don’t), Ranger fans pretty much ran Jaromir Jagr out of town.

          • Ok, you’ve just proven that you’re not a Ranger fan–Jagr was loved by the Ranger fan base, and the general feeling among most fans I knew was disgust that Sather had let him run to the KHL.

  • Agree with much of this.

    I think they let McD and Hayes walk.

    Should be Zibs, Andersson, Chytil and Nieces down the middle. I think zucch stays.


  • Unless the Rangers are trading McD for another team’s franchise player then there’s no fair value for him in trade. Getting 3 players for McD doesn’t cut it for me.

    Rule #1 in trades: You get the best player in the deal.

    And sorry Kevo, comparing Cally to McD is comparing apples and oranges. Cally was a 3rd line stiff about to suffocate the Rangers with a ridiculously bad contract. While McD is a true franchise player that will earn most of his money on a long term contract.

    There was no way Cally at his size could play the way he did for a long period of time. Trust me, he did the Rangers a big favor not signing here.

    • Cally was a 3rd line stiff? Boy is that harsh for a true blue Ranger.

      Think you’re still missing the point of financial flexibility to optimize roster

      • Kevin, true blue Ranger? They offered him $6M per and he turned them down after repeatedly saying how much he wanted to be a Ranger.

        I think you are forgetting this my friend. And surpassed 50 pts TWICE in his career. That’s a $6M per player?

        So how does signing a 3rd/4th line player for $6M per optimize financial flexibility with a hard cap?

        • We all work to earn more money. It’s up to the team if they want to pay him. That’s how the business works.

          Absolutely should not take away from what he did for eight years here.

          Point value and line are irrelevant to that – he can ask for whatever he wants – and sure enough TBL gave it to him. The Rangers were smart to let them. But again, we should not be crucifying a guy like that for getting his payday.

          • I don’t think people resent Rangers like Callahan getting their payday. What was distasteful in Cally’s case was the obvious way in which his agent attempted to use a freshly-minted captaincy to bleed an extra $1 million from the salary cap. Callahan’s contract negotiations were relatively public & seemed like an endless distraction his last year here. Cynical tactics beget cynical reactions.

          • I’m sorry I still don’t buy this. It’s an agent’s job to use everything at his disposal to get his client the most money possible. The Rangers named Callahan captain – the agent did not lobby for it or force in any way. Once they did, it was completely fair for the agent to use that as leverage.

          • I’m not saying it was unfair, rather that it was crass of Cally & his agent–a team shouldn’t be instantly financially penalized for naming a player captain. His leadership costs extra, was the implication at the time–which is antithetical to the supposedly selfless nature of an NHL team captain. Luckily the Rangers learned their lesson and picked McDonagh as their next captain, since he’d already committed to the organization long term. Anyway the Rangers made the right call for themselves, as did Callahan.

          • The agent’s job is to get the best deal for his client – not the most money. For most guys who come up in an organization, staying there and winning there is special. And it is worth a few dollars to play where you want to play. Now, how many dollars is up for debate – and sometimes a player just gets sick of an organization – but it should matter and, as we saw with Zuccarello and Shattenkirk, sometimes it does.

            Sadly, the agent’s fee depends only on $$$ and so he need not have his client’s best interests at heart.

          • Don’t misunderstand me Kevo, I don’t care that he got all that money as long as it was not here.

            I was 10000000000000000% against the Rangers extending him:

            #1 – He’s not talented enough to get a $6M per contract.
            #2 – I predicted that he wold not last long playing the way he did in a smallish body.
            #3 – Without St. Louis, we don’t get to the SCF.

  • Actually more interested in Traverse City lineup.

    Kovacs & Stromwall back again after a disastrous season in Hartford, only 1D and 4F not on the 50 man roster.

    • Hmm, well seeing as I’ve never seen a penny from this – it’s a hobby, not a job.

      Second, I’m not sure I see the issue with giving proper credit to the original post including link, then offering my own opinions and a second, different take on their original premise.

      • It’s August in the hockey world. You gave us something to consider/talk about, which alone deserves thanks! Not trolling. Also, I personally may have never seen this take from THN because I tend to visit a couple Rangers blogs daily and don’t cast a super wide net for all things Rangers elsewhere.

        That said, THN has Philip Chytil on the right wing and on the fourth line. He is not a winger (for now, and I think most of us hope he stays a C), and he is not a fourth line skill set. They have Hayes on the wing and Miller in the center, which is clearly not how the Rangers have viewed those players to date. Many would contend that Day should be better than Pionk unless the wheels fall right off in his development. Many would also contend Bereglazov could be better than Pionk, and if the wheels do fall off for Day, you might have Bereglazov/Pionk as a more reasonable third pair in any event since B is lefty and Pionk is righty.

        Etc. Props to THN for taking a stab at it, but these types of things are why these posts are interesting to take a look at in a Rangers community with a more robust discussion of the topic at hand. Thanks again!

  • McD at 29 – 30 for 5 or 6 years does not scare me much. If injuries slow him we will all whine but if you want to keep a player of his caliber then that is the risk everyone in the business takes. I believe he might just have an exceptional season this year freed from the injured Girardi. That will of course make him a bit expensive if he does. So it goes.

    • I’m not of the opinion that McDonagh’s play will slip so dramatically over the course of his hypothetical new deal that the contract would be a disaster. I just question whether paying him will be the best use of cap room for the Blueshirts with how the rest of their roster will fill out over the next couple years

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