The Rangers are in a favorable position for next season. Although they have some tough decisions with Ryan Strome and Tony DeAngelo, they really don’t have much of a cap crunch yet. Landing Alexis Lafreniere gives them another offensive weapon at minimal salary, opening up their options even more. This gives the NY Rangers great flexibility when addressing their big center need via trade this summer.
Strome isn’t the answer
Ryan Strome had a fantastic season. There is no denying that. Given the price he is likely to command and the uncertainty into whether he can do it again, that’s where the rub is. If the Rangers miss on their next big contract, which could be Strome’s, it could derail the entire rebuild.
"I don't believe that they see Ryan Strome as the long-term answer as their second-line center … the amount of money he's going to make — the Rangers probably aren't looking at that as a long-term solution."
— Phil Kocher (@PhilKocher) August 13, 2020
The Rangers need to get a guaranteed middle-six center, one that can drive play beyond Artemi Panarin. Filip Chytil may or may not be that guy, but with him still on an ELC, they aren’t burning cash on a question mark. The answer needs to be a certainty, not a dart throw. The Rangers appear to be ready to move on from him as well.
Flat cap provides opportunities
The Rangers do not have a big cap crunch, especially if they move on from Strome. Would it be nice to have a little more flexibility? Sure. They also have up to ten players on ELCs. Seems contradictory to needing to move on from Strome, but when committing $7 million to a questionable 2C, it makes all the sense.
Targeting teams with cap issues that have RFAs due big raises is a strategy. Targeting teams with committed contracts that have cap issues is another strategy. Tampa Bay and Edmonton come to mind here.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ name has been tossed around. There’s room there to make a deal centered around (some of, not all) Alex Georgiev, Tony DeAngelo, the other 1st round pick, and/or projects. But Nuge only has one year left on his $6 million deal. It gives the Rangers a true 2C, but with limited control. That may lower the cost for the Rangers, so perhaps that plays into their favor.
Elliotte Friedman mentioned that Kyle Turris may be getting bought out in Nashville. If that does happen, then in theory Turris could be had for cheap. He’s certainly a 2C, but is trending down.
Anthony Cirelli’s name has made its rounds too because Tampa will have to choose between him and Mikhail Sergachev. Given how Tampa is constructed, Cirelli may be a luxury they can’t afford. There’s a deal to be made there, but it will involve no money going to Tampa. I like this idea a lot more than targeting RNH. In fact, this is the one that I am choosing to will into existence. If this is the center the NY Rangers target in a trade, then I’m all for it.