Free agency is almost upon us, and the Rangers are likely going to be more active this year than in the past. Clearly their main target is Artemi Panarin, but there are other needs on the roster. Some can be addressed via free agency, and others cannot. I have a few wish list items.
1. If Panarin is the target, and seven years is the must, then please keep it under $11.5 million. I know that’s a big ask, but that’s a big contract and I’d like to keep the cap dollars down as much as I can.
2. Even if they land Panarin, I want the Rangers to keep Chris Kreider. Dump Jimmy Vesey and Ryan Strome for futures. Neither are worth keeping around at those contracts. Trade Kevin Shattenkirk at 50%. Do what you need to. Of course I’m being a little biased here, but keeping Kreider at five years and $6.5 million while also adding Panarin is a big step in the accelerating the rebuild direction.
3. Find a stopgap 2C on a short term deal. Jason Spezza is my preference here. One year deal, cheap. That way Filip Chytil isn’t thrown to the wolves as the 2C. I think he’s the 2C of the future, but there’s nothing wrong with letting Spezza start there and let Chytil assume the role halfway through the season. Spezza can be a great mentor for Chytil and Lias Andersson, whom I hope will grow into that 3C role.
4. This is probably cheating, but trade one of Staal/Smith/Shattenkirk please. Free up space on the blue line. You have the ability to retain salary on three trades again, instead of two. Use it.
5. If you can’t land Panarin, stay away from everyone else that wants more than two years. Three if you think they can be useful as expansion draft fodder.
It’s a small wish list folks. It’s reasonable, right?"Free Agency wish list",