Exploring UFA center options for the NY Rangers’ bottom six

Planning for all scenarios

Note from Dave: I know we are all frustrated by this lockdown. Tempers are boiling over in the comments, and that’s understandable. Disagreement is fine, and given the situation, I’m actually not going to remove political comments. However there are two things I will not stand for:

  • Incessant name calling and/or hostility towards each other. This is a time when we should be sticking together and supporting each other. Disagree all you want about the approach and/or handling of the situation. But remember people are dying, and we are taking the necessary precautions to save lives and buy time for scientists.
  • Conspiracy theories. I will not, under any circumstances, allow that here. I banned a user (Eugene) yesterday for spreading misinformation about the pandemic. I will continue to do so. Again, I will not tolerate bullshit conspiracy theories. 

It may seem unthinkable, but there is a strong possibility the New York Rangers and Ryan Strome part ways this offseason. The potential for a flat cap will have a ripple effect, and the numbers suggest that FIlip Chytil can take the 2C role and succeed. The flat cap means the Rangers need to spend wisely, and $6 million for a 3C Strome, if and when that happens, is a major risk.

If the Blueshirts do go ahead and trade Strome, then they will need to sign a 3C to fill the gap. With the expansion draft coming, the UFA market is going to be filled with two year deals. The key is finding a UFA that will produce beyond their contract. The list isn’t overly attractive though.

Worth noting that Brett Howden is obviously in the discussion for 3C, but there needs to be a massive improvement made. He also may be better off on the wing.

Jason Spezza

This was actually inspired when I saw Rob’s tweet, referencing a Blueshirts Breakaway podcast tweet. It’s actually where I got the idea for this post. Thanks guys.

Spezza is interesting, and let’s get this out of the way: If you’re expecting prime Spezza, look elsewhere. Spezza is not a 90-point guy anymore. He’s a 30 point guy, but as the 3C you aren’t signing him to put up crazy scoring totals. You’re signing him for what he does away from the puck: Drive possession and limit chances against, both better than league average.

Evolving-Hockey has a one year deal for Spezza at $1.1 million and a two year deal at $2.3 million, so it’s safe to assume the 37 year old is only getting a one year deal.

Mikko Koivu

After spending his entire career in Minnesota, it looks like Koivu and the Wild will part ways. Like Spezza, Koivu is no longer a big point producer, but the 37 year old is also about a 30 point guy. The question again though is how he performs without the puck in a depth role.

Last season Koivu still drove offense better than league average, and at the very least held his own defensively. The concern here would be on the penalty kill, where Koivu had a significantly negative impact on the Minnesota PK. This is easily avoided by not using him on the PK, but in the NHL reputation trumps results.

Koivu, like Spezza, has a big difference in expected salaries for one ($2 million) and two ($3.3 million) year deals. Preparing for the expansion draft is important, but not at a 50% increase on the contract.

Tyler Ennis

Getting into the younger guys, Ennis had a pretty decent year with Ottawa. The 30 year old forward (he plays all three positions) put up 16-21-37, yet is always considered a bargain because of his size. The guy had an $800k cap hit this past season. Well worth it for 37 points.

Ennis’ impact with Ottawa needs to be taken with a grain of salt since the Senators were terrible. That said, he did drive offense and wasn’t a huge liability on defense. Ottawa was definitely a worse team when he wasn’t on the ice. The above definitely lines up with his career averages, so that’s worth noting.

Ennis is the first player where a two year deal isn’t too risky, likely because he’s not 37 like the other two. EW has him at $1.4 million for one year and $2.5 million for two years. If the Rangers go the UFA route to fill a bottom-six center role, this is the preferred route.

Show More
  • What about Joe Thornton, if (big if) he was willing to leave SJ? I did not get to see much West Coast hockey this past season, so i don’t know what he has left in the tank, but as a 3C, maybe flank him with some combo of Gautheir, Kaako, Krastov, Lemieux, maybe Howden.

    He’d provide some veteran stability to the kids. Also if Chytil has difficulty adjusting to being a 2C, you could move him up and not have to worry about him fitting with Panarin.

  • Would prefer signing Strome to a 2-3 year deal at circa $5-5.5M (no NTC or NMC), if possible of course … but clearly everything is up in the air until we know what the cap number will be, and whether there’s a compliance buyout of some sort. The latter of course makes life much easier. In the alternative I think Spezza and/or Koivu on cheap deals (1 or 2 years) make sense — and given the money we’re talking about I don’t think the risk is all that great

    I don’t doubt Chytil’s ability to slot into the 2nd line role, but I think avoiding that inevitable outcome for another year or two is the wise and prudent move … but if Strome insists on anything more than a 4 year deal (and I’m loathe to give him even 4 years) or on a NTC/NMC past the 1st year of the contract, he probably has to go.

    • I agree with Strome short-term, ideally 2 years. It’s hard to speculate with the current state of the world, but if i am him, I’m either signing a one year deal taking me to UFA, or 5+ years with some sort of NMC/NTC up front to protect me from expansion.

      If I potentially am only going to be a NYR for one more year, I’d want control over my next destination, rather than being selected by Seattle, and possibly flipped somewhere else.

      Maybe one-year is the best route for NYR, leaves an option to trade him at the deadline, should the rebuild stall a bit, or keep as an own rental.

      • Well aside from the “I must win a SC someday”, Seattle would be a great landing spot for Strome. If he has another good year and puts up 65-75 points he could be in line for the 1st line center position in Seattle and a big pay day (especially with an increased salary cap). I think there’s a very small possibility that the Rangers protect him in the expansion draft(Zibby, Panarin, Kreider, Chytil, Buch would be protected for starters … then maybe Lemieux and Gauthier depending on their development) but you never know … I would think the club will want that option though.

  • I am fine with these 3 if a deal is close to league minimum. But there are some rebound candidates that may cost a bit more than these 3, but may also offer better upside.

    First I would take a look at Alex Galchenyuk. He has been on the decline. Tough season last year, but maybe playing him with Panarin can spark his game, like it did for Strome? And, he’s only 26. I would also take a look at Mikael Grandlund. Similar situation to Galchenyuk he has been trending the wrong way. He’s 28 years old. Being Finnish he may also be helpful for Kakko. They may also be open to short term incentive laden deals as their value is pretty low at this point in their careers. That helps since we get a lot of cap relief in 2021-22.

    • Granlund would be a nice pickup, I’ve always liked his game. Agree on him slipping a bit but he still had 17 goals this season. Only drawback is he wouldn’t be cheap, the plusses could be a big bounce-back year with the Rangers, and insurance if Chytil falters in the 2nd line center spot.

      • Stupid pick up. The point is for the Rangers to get younger and better not older and more mediocre. What on earth are you thinking? Thank God you are not even close to being a general manager for your local Salvation Army. You can’t even manager out of a paper bag. Pay attention old man.

        • Real brave of you to try me today. Out of respect to Dave’s disclaimer above, and Johnny Red’s heartbreaking post below, I’m not gonna respond beyond this comment. As of tomorrow, all bets are off.

  • Kudos to you my friend this is a HOCKEY site so Please keep all the other stuff off this site. I have lost 4 people already in my family and I come to sites like this to get away from all the sadness of not being able to have a funeral to say goodbye. So thank you for keeping that nonsense off of your site!

  • I believe that it is time to roll the dice and throw Chytil into the mix at 2C. I believe that Strome would be a fairly decent 3C. I don’t think he has a lot of flexibility right now and that the Rangers might be able to keep him in the fold for a little while and use him at 3C. However, my fear is that if Strome is still here then Chytil might not get that shot just yet.

    If not, I’d like to go with some younger guys than those who were highlighted in the article. I just don’t find that it usually works out too well when you bring in an older player for a supposedly short stint.

  • Chytil numbers suggest 2c but Howden needs MASSIVE improvement?

    Brett Howden
    GP G A P +/-
    136 15 27 42 -27

    Filip Chytil
    GP G A P +/-
    144 26 23 49 -34

    Lol okay Dave.

    I was reading something from the NHL page a couple weeks ago.. It was about positive changes from different teams in a short period of time. Elite names from Philly like Giroux, Coots and Voracek rave about being scoreless for 3-5 games and still winning by like 4-5 goals during win streaks. They have names like JVR who play 13-14 mins a night on the 3rd line with PP2 deployment. He basically put up CK without the help of elite 1c Zib or PP1 with the power of elite tag teams of Panarin and Zib.

    All these options that Dave named are people who won’t help in any fashion. It would take a deep team for guy’s like Spezza to be trusted in such a role. The 3c and 4c need to be shutdown role types of names who could contribute on the PK. If they can’t match-up than they better be offensively 5v5 studs who make the PP2 not look like the previous JV squad that we’re use to.

    The season’s leading up to pay Zib his 10×8 extension can’t come soon enough. All will be told by than with Buch and Chytil’s “developments”. The 14 mill investment between Kreider and Trouba would look more ugly by then. I suspect a classic NYR rebuild on the fly to be underway. However I applaud JG for trying his hardest to flip CK to Avs or to Boston for Jake Debrusk. It could have advanced the rebuild in so many good ways if those team’s were foolish enough to bite.

  • Given the names mentioned, I’d rather go with a kid like Morgan Baron as the third line center, than any of the old retreads.

    Zib, Chytil, Baron, and Howdon, or any possible trade that can be made to get a trusted 4th center. Worst case scenario I’d go with Kratvsov as a third line guy, and Baron as our fourth line guy………….

    • Agreed, but my concern is not only whether Barron will sign for next year, but will he even sign with the Rangers? If he goes back to Cornell for his senior year, which is a strong possibility, he might just decide to try the FA route when he graduates. We got Fox that way ourselves, who’s to say that some other team’s not going to try to poach Barron from us?

      • Joe

        I have to agree, but my gut feeling is he will sign, especially now they are talking about colleges not opening this upcoming semester??????? We got Fox, Hayes, and Vesey that way, so if we don’t get Morgan to sign, it’s his loss..

  • For those of us who aren’t really DQ’s fans, here is an interesting article that may sum up what we all saw, and felt about this coach.

    David Quinn, the Developmental Coach? Interesting read on the Blue Line Station site this morning. It may reinforce your opinion, and or change it, read and enjoy……………..

    • I agree with the article re: Andersson and Kravtsov, they were both handled poorly by DQ — of course the caveat here is I really don’t know how DQ handled Kravs demotion, I mean did he pull him in and state that although by all rights he should have made the team but that the organization wanted him to go down to the AHL and get 20+ minutes of ice time playing in all sorts of situations instead of 10-12 minutes a night in the NHL with no PP time, etc.? Did he cushion the blow or did they just say “report to Hartford”?

      Either way my personal feeling was that they should have kept him up to start the season and that could have positively influenced Andersson’s development as well, he merited more ice time and playing with better players.

      Re: Kakko, he could have brought him along better, but I don’t feel his treatment was in any was as bad as the treatment of Kravs and Andersson, the latter two being given no chance to really succeed.

      • Tanto

        Totally agree, and the way he favored the worst of the kids, Howden, is a sad story. The kid really doesn’t belong in the show, but if he is to stay, put him on the 4th line, and possibly give another kid a chance to show what he could do. I believe he, DQ, has favorites, to the detriment of the other young kids in the system…………..

        • I don’t harbor any ill-will towards Howden, he can be a pretty decent player in the NHL given time … but yeah I do object to the fact that he was rarely held accountable. Clearly he should have spent time in the AHL as far back as in his first season after 30-40 games when his wheels seemingly fell off.

  • Pass on the 3 players you mentioned. Too old to contribute and we don’t need “good in the room guys” we got enough of those already with our young vets like CK, Panarin , Mika , Trouba.

    Rather go with Mika, Chytil, Barron/ Henriksson , Howden.

    Let’s see what happens at the draft. There are a few players who are slightly older like Lundell and Rossi who may be in play depending on circumstances. Plus there are trades potentially on the table as well. Last thing we should do is bring in washed vets given what they are trying to do with this team.

    • Henriksson is years away at best. At lest a full season with Frolunda, then a season in Hartford, then….??? Assuming Ziba back and Chytil steps up, he’s competing with Barron(assuming he’s signs) for 3C and then what?

      Neither him nor the Lindbom pick made a lick of sense at the time, don’t make sense now.

  • The following users have been banned: Far Queue, Wayward Ranger/Truth Hurts/Witherspoon/Face Reality (all 4 were the same person).

    I deleted the comment thread.

    I am not kidding people. Stop fucking around in the comments.

    • 4 personas? Roger from American Dad anyone?… Should have added a extra user name, Rickky Spanniishhh……

      Dude must be winning at life to create all those emails. It’s obvious that he controlled the voting system and probably still does.

      To Tanto

      Lias Andersson didn’t deserve any top 9 role with top 6 wingers. He had his chance for about 14 games last season. Nine to ten of those were at the 3c role with quality wingers like Fast or Chytil. Than they gave him a shot as an top 6 winger which he failed at. DQ has been outspoken about how he can’t handle the skating or conditioning under him. Younger Lias should have showed up under AV where the uptempo system required shorter and more active shifts. Quinn likes to run his top 6 into the ground like Dallas and Winniepeg. Lias will never be sturdy enough to play like that or good enough to be a 5v5 matchup role player.

      Krav coming back, owning up to his mistakes is apple’s and oranges to Lias mess. You can tell right away that he’s a skilled and mobile player like Kyle Connor type.

      • Ah, I did not write this. Notice the space between “Richter” and “1994.”

        Cut the crap whomever did this.

    • Thank you David for all you and the writers do for us.

      It’s always a handful, but overall, I think that people here behave themselves.

    • The user posing as Richter1994 has been banned.

      Figure some explanation is needed: The real Richter1994 has been here a while. There was someone posing as him. That user was banned. The OG Richter1994 is still here.

    • Agreed Rob, we are talking about guys over 30 years old because this hockey board is being run by Glen Sather and that is all he knows what to talk about.

    • Rob, totally agree with you. We might as well move the Rangers facility to a retirement home. In the past seems looking good and having over the hill marquee players was the recipe for a winning team. There were absolutely idiot dumb asses in the Rangers management. Old f-ckers who were lost in today’s world who don’t know jack sh-t about anything who should be put to pasture and shot. Thankfully Gorton is better. Your thoughts Rob?

  • and again.

    Ok, David, someone is writing as if it is me. I don’t know what you can do about it, if anything.

    Just childish.

      • LOL, I know, I was kidding about the little trophy, trying for some levity.

        That’s a really good question, and I would say that maybe they can contend. Prior to this year, here was my “prediction” for the next couple of years:

        2019/20: Finish around .500, and MAYBE squeak in for an 8 seed. Basically a “bubble” team.

        2020/21: Make the playoffs, with the “older” Rangers off the team, like Staal and Smith. I would not have predicted that Hank would have been an “odd man” out at this point. I figured that the goalie tandem would be Shesty and Hank, with Georgie traded. Miller and Lindqvist come up during the year to play regularly, along with Robertson (don’t sleep on him). Krav starts from the beginning of the season with the Rangers. Strome is gone, as Chytil takes the 2C.

        2021/22: This is where the Rangers make a real run. hopefully the young Rangers really mature and become the real core of the team. Zib, Kreider, and Panarin are still young enough to produce big time. I see this year as the year that they really contend for a Cup, if it is going to happen at all. Shesty is the real deal, but needs to stay healthy.

        • I’ve been a Ranger fan since 1965. Started going to games regularly since 1995 (of course, lol).

          Yeah, I agree about vets at this point. We have enough of our own for leadership, experience, etc. I would rather see guys like Gettinger or Barron come in to fill in the bottom 6.

          I think that our D is set with Trouba (if he’s still here), Fox, Lindgren, ADA, Robertson, K Miller, and Lindqvist.

          I see forwards as KZB, Panarin-Chytil-Kakko, Krav, Barron (at some point), Lemieux, Howden (not by my choice), and whatever else they bring in to fill in. I don’t think Fast will be here because he prices himself out of a job, same with Strome.

        • It’s ironic how you identified a problem that I have been opposed to for ions. I have been screaming for years to get rid of the old farts, and retreads, and go with a youth movement. They are doing it finally, and we will see the fruits of our efforts real soon, maybe in two years, or so.

          FYI, I’m past my 73rd birthday, will be 74 soon, so some of us have been thinking the right way for years!!!!!!!!!!!

          • I could be delusional and looking through Ranger colored glasses, but I think that they could contend in 2021/22.

            Of course, like for any team, a lot has to happen between now and then, but the pieces could be in place by then, with the young players getting their experience to hit their strides by then.

            Chytil, if given the chance to play with Panarin, can be a stud. Same for Kakko. The reason why this line makes sense to me is that Panarin plays like a possessing center, but on the wing. He can carry the puck with Chytil/Kakko finishing Panarin’s plays that Strome/Fast cannot.

            And Happy Birthday.

  • There have been talks of compliance buyouts if that were to happens would we be able to pick up a center that way. I saw a rumor somewhere that Tampa is against the cap and would use the free buyout on Johnson or Gourge, we can do what they did with shatty and sign one for pennies on the dollar. Could be any center thoughts?

  • Back to top button