As the NY Rangers explore all options to improve their roster, one area that is being overlooked is free agent targets. There are always intriguing names to be had for “nothing” but cash, but cash this year has more value than years prior. The Rangers could make something work with a big name free agent, but at what cost? Free agency is usually the most inefficient manner of improving the roster, and this year proves no different.
There Are No Impact Players That Fit A Need
The Rangers are still in a rebuild. Despite last season’s big splash, they are still looking for cheap, young talent. Artemi Panarin represents a rare opportunity, and the Rangers went for it. This year, there are no Artemi Panarin’s. There are few, if any, realistic free agent targets for the NY Rangers this year.
The only intriguing name out there is Taylor Hall, and the Rangers don’t need another winger. The best UFA center this season is…Mikael Granlund? I mean, he’s a nice player and he’s “only” 28 years old. But at the 7 years and $6.25 million he’s likely to get per Evolving-Hockey, that’s a hard pass for a guy who put up 30 points last season.
The next best center, or at least player who can play center? Vlad Namestnikov.
As for left defense, Alex Pietrangelo is 30 years old and looking at 7 years. That’s a hard pass. We’ve covered Torey Krug already. After that you’re looking at Travis Hamonic, who is likely not the answer in a rebuild.
Cap Space Matters In A Rebuild
The Rangers don’t have have a cap problem yet, but signing a bad deal certainly gives them a cap problem. The Blueshirts have a lot of money tied into Panarin, Jacob Troba, and Chris Kreider already. Mika Zibanejad will likely join that list in two years. Then the kids will need new deals as well.
One bad contract and the cap space disappears. There’s already concern about signing a bad RFA deal to Tony DeAngelo or Ryan Strome (depends on the contract for those two). Signing a UFA who’s older is worse since you know it’s going to be long term and high dollar value. It doesn’t make sense.
The NY Rangers would be wise to avoid free agent targets this offseason. There’s just no real logic to any of the big names available. Adding cheap depth is one thing. But relying on this year’s crop to fill a roster hole is bad process.