Now that the head coaching scenario has finally been resolved everyone in Rangers nation can finally look ahead to more pressing matters. With the NY Rangers having limited cap space and only one right winger on the books for 23-24, Chris Drury will need to do some tidy business with a limited budget. Specifically, there must be names in mind as possible Rangers RW targets for next season to address a pretty big roster hole.
The two popular Rangers RW targets are the two big deadline acquisitions. Vladimir Tarasenko is likely a non-starter to return and Patrick Kane isn’t likely an option until at least after the New Year. With the limited cap space available, Drury is unlikely to be able to make a splash during free agency (plus this free agent class is brutal).
In the flat cap era, being able to make a splashy trade also seems highly unlikely. However, it’ll be time for Drury to try do some bargain hunting and hopefully find himself his version of Jonathan Marchessault.
Kaapo Kakko should likely start the year at RW1 and hopefully he’ll last longer in the top six under Laviolette than he did under previous regimes. Alexis Lafreniere would be an ideal fit at RW2 but we’ve seen in the past that it doesn’t seem to fit his game. Also with the speculation about Lafreniere committing in the summer it doesn’t seem like asking him to switch from his natural left side would make sense at all.
If Lafreniere were willing to make a switch to the right side it would help the Rangers greatly. Bargain bin shopping is best for botton six wingers, and this avoids a major lift by Drury this offseason.
Perhaps one of the Rangers RW targets could be Tyler Motte. If you listened closely to Motte’s words on breakup day, it seems likely that he will find himself returning to Broadway. This will certainly save a mid-round pick at this year’s deadline. Motte could be an excellent pairing on the second line with Artemi Panarin due to his speed and defensive responsibility. He would be a younger and quicker version of Jesper Fast, whom Panarin said he loved playing with.
Motte also isn’t a player who will command the puck which will allow Panarin to play his game and make everyone on his line better. Motte should only command $1.5-$2 million on a short term deal, per Evolving-Hockey, which is great for a cash strapped team.
Connor Brown is also a nice option for one of the Rangers RW targets. He’s a player who can slide up and down the lineup and he’s shown a nice scoring touch in his career with a pair of 20 goal seasons in his career. Unfortunately for the Rangers he’s coming off a contract making $3.6M a year, so he could be out of the Rangers price range. It is worth noting that Brown’s contract projection is 1 year and $2 million, per EH.
Brown is a solid forechecker who could also be an asset on the penalty kill if the Rangers move on from Barclay Goodrow. Unfortunately with free agency upon us, silly season could ultimately price the Rangers out.
Garnet Hathaway is another interesting name of potential Rangers RW targets that Drury and the Blueshirts should consider. A tough and rugged third liner with a bit of a scoring touch, he’d be a good asset in the bottom six. Last year’s Blueshirts seemed a bit mentally soft and an addition of Hathaway would immediately change that.
New bench boss Peter Laviolette knows and trusts Hathaway and that goes a long way in this league. Coming off a $1.5M AAV, Hathaway won’t get too lofty of a raise this summer especially considering the fact he’s not a first wave free agent. This could be a homerun for Drury to help bring some bite back into the lineup on a bargain.
Last but not least there’s old Corey Perry. Perry isn’t for the regular season, and this move would solely be about the playoffs. At this stage in his career Perry is in nothing but ring chasing mode and with the Rangers mandate of Cup or bust, a Perry addition could be a major key to that mandate. Perry is a major pain to play against and he’s not somebody that’ll break the bank for the team to be able to add. His skating might not be top notch anymore but for a bottom six player who still shows a scoring touch around the net he’s a perfect fit for what this roster needs.
Free agency is notoriously a time for when general managers lose their minds but there’s options for Drury to go bargain shopping to add and round out the rosters edges. The Rangers are in win now mode and they need to be able to put together a tough checking line and a solid fourth line to play against and these are the some of the best and cheap options available this summer.