The NY Rangers have a pretty tight cap heading into free agency today at noon, and they will need to focus on some bargain NHL free agents to fill out the roster. This is a very similar offseason to the 2013 offseason, when the Rangers again had a disappointing season and postseason, hired a new coach, and the cap led to trotting back a similar roster with only minor additions via free agency. Bargain NHL free agents are the only way for the Rangers to supplement the roster right now.

Jonathan Quick appears to be one of those potential bargain NHL free agents, The Rangers appear set to sign Quick as their backup, and the outrage seemed a little unnecessary. If the Rangers get him on a bonus-laden contract, kicking some of the cap hit to next season when the cap ceiling increases more, it could be a good move.

With Quick likely in the mix, the Rangers have at least one defense spot and two forward spots they need to fill. That doesn’t include the hope that prospects Zac Jones and possibly Brennan Othmann make the jump to the NHL next season.

Mike Reilly – Defense

Rob Luker had the scoop here, with Mike Reilly being bought out by the Bruins. Reilly is everything the Rangers need in a depth defenseman. He’s reliable in all three zones, is wildly underappreciated on the ice based on some of his numbers, and will be cheap.

There aren’t many, if any, good depth defense options for the Rangers via free agency. If Jones doesn’t make the jump, then the spot goes to Ben Harpur currently. The Blueshirts need a player in between that to not only augment depth, but give the Rangers an injury cushion too. Harpur shouldn’t be the 7D option, he should be the 8D or 9D option.

Reilly fits the bill for the Rangers as a one year, sub-$1 million option that more than holds his own in all three zones. He could be the best of the bargain NHL free agents on the blue line.

Conor Sheary

Conor Sheary rose to fame quickly on Sidney Crosby’s wing with the Penguins, putting up a 23 goal season early in his career. He hasn’t hit that number since, but has been a solid bottom six winger putting up about 15 goals and 30-ish points per year.

Sheary isn’t much to write home about defensively, so on the Rangers he’d be an insurance middle-six winger in case Othmann can’t hold down a spot on a sheltered third line. It’s all about role, and if Sheary’s role is to complement a pure offense line, then it’s a good role for him.

The only problem is the contract, and he’s less of a bargain than some of the other options. Evolving-Hockey has him at a 4 year deal worth $4 million, but also at a one year deal at $1.7 million should he only get a one year offer. He’s not the cheapest of the bargain NHL free agents, but put him on a wing with possibly Artemi Panarin, and he has the potential to be a great buy low candidate.

Connor Brown

While Sheary will likely get a multi year deal, making him somewhat irrelevant for the context of this post, Connor Brown is almost assuredly getting a one year deal at $2 million, per EH. The 29 year old has similar output to Sheary, but for half the cost and 25% of the years.

Brown is much more solid in his own end, making him a little more versatile and a better plug throughout the lineup. However he doesn’t drive offense at the same level as Sheary, so it’s a give-and-take. With Sheary likely pricing himself out, Brown is a good pivot and a bottom six role.

His defensive impact is good enough to provide a third option for a potential shut down line –possibly with Will Cuylle and Barclay Goodrow– with some offensive potential. Think of him as a more offensively inclined Jimmy Vesey. However if the Rangers are looking to plug Brown into a middle-six role, he may be a bit underwhelming, even as another good option of the bargain NHL free agents.


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