It’s nearly impossible to figure out what the roster might look like in August, let alone a year down the road. But for the first time in a while the Blueshirts have plenty of cap space and a world of possibilities in front of them.
A chunk of that pool might already be earmarked for Ilya Kovalchuk and it’s possible GM Jeff Gorton chases other big fish this summer. He also has a group of RFAs that will either get substantial raises or be shipped out of town.
Regardless – there’s flexibility. And that’s particularly interesting if you look ahead to next year’s crop of potential free agents.
Indeed the Blueshirts could be flush with cash entering a summer bonanza that could feature the likes of Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, Jordan Eberle, Matt Duchene, Logan Couture, Artemi Panarin, Tyler Seguin, Jeff Skinner, Blake Wheeler, Tyler Myers, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Ryan Ellis, Max Pacioretty and many, many more.
Many of those stars will surely re-sign way before July 1, 2019 – so don’t get too excited about that list just yet.
But what makes the class particularly unique is that there aren’t just the typical veteran mercenaries that would’ve been attractive to the Rangers of recent years. There are also several game-changers that could hit the open market at young enough ages that they could be sensible additions to the growing core.
Duchene and Ellis will be just 28, Ekman-Larsson, Skinner, Panarin and Seguin only 27.
If the front office feels positively about the developmental trajectory of its key youngsters and the restocked farm system looks poised to produce a couple more players in the near future – then splurging on one of those big names could make a lot of sense. It could fast-track the rebuild and be a logical short- and long-term move at the same time.
If you follow baseball, it’s similar to the path the Yankees have been on in recent years. GM Brian Cashman shed salary while stockpiling young assets that ripened in the big leagues surprisingly quickly. All the while, he purportedly had an eye on next offseason when megastars Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Clayton Kershaw could hit the market. Cashman’s Yankees are already considered contenders – adding one of those guys (in addition to Giancarlo Stanton) could cement the team’s status as a power for the next decade.
So yes, next summer feels like eternity from now and there are a slew of dominoes that need to fall over the next several months, but this is something to keep in the back of your mind. You can bet the Blueshirts are.