If the Rangers were able to sum up their pre-deadline roster issues with one sentence, it would be Dryden Hunt on the second line. That’s no disrespect to Hunt, who was a solid signing to augment the bottom six last season. He’s a good depth player who can bring a lot to the fourth line. But last season, it was clear Gerard Gallant had Dryden Hunt miscast on the top six.
One of the many questions heading into the preseason is what will happen with the Rangers bottom defense pair. Braden Schneider is a lock, but then it’s a big pile of unknown. The Rangers have a pair of high ceiling prospects, at least one dark horse, and one ‘why is he still here?’ guy all vying for a roster spot, and depending on who you ask –or the the level of cynicism– you’ll get a different answer.
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The Rangers haven’t made much noise this offseason, with the only big move being adding Vincent Trocheck on a too many years deal. Beyond that, the Blueshirts added mostly depth players, specifically Ryan Carpenter and (possibly) Jimmy Vesey. But with that, the Rangers 4th line now has options and matchup potential. This is something they didn’t have last year.
In case you missed it, and given some of the discourse on Rangers Twitter, I don’t see how you could have missed it, Jacob Trouba is the 28th Rangers captain. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, given how the Rangers almost handed the C to him at the start of last season before a last second change. Captain Trouba seemingly changed everything, but also changed nothing?
Per Kevin Weekes, in a way that only Weekes can break news, Jacob Trouba is the next Rangers captain. Trouba was rumored to be the next Rangers captain this offseason, when those plans were apparently nixed last second. It’s unclear why the plans were nixed last year, but whatever it was, the Rangers had a change of heart.
Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers may have a Jimmy Vesey reunion on Broadway. The Rangers traded Vesey to Buffalo for a third round pick on July 1, 2019. The pick became Jayden Grubbe in 2021. Vesey was traded as the Rangers were able to land both Artemiy Panarin and Jacob Trouba, thus Vesey’s salary needed to be cut.
Kaapo Kakko has been nothing short of a puzzling player for the Rangers through his first three years. Bounced around the lineup and dealing with multiple injuries and COVID, Kakko’s confidence had been completely shot. That was until the kid line was formed, and Kakko looked like a #2 overall pick. The Kakko enigma hopefully was one step closer to being solved.
Remember when the Rangers were supposed to re-sign Tyler Motte? That was originally reported by Mollie Walker at the end of June. It is now August 4, Motte is still unsigned, and the Rangers don’t have much cap space to work with. So is Motte going to sign elsewhere? Can the Rangers even afford him anymore?
The Rangers have added some Hartford depth, signing forward CJ Smith to a 1 year deal. Smith is not an NHL forward, with 15 NHL games as a 27 year old. He had one NHL game in each of the last 2 seasons. He had 11 games with the Sabres in 2018-2019, which answers any questions about his NHL viability.
The Rangers will be sending three of their top prospects to the 2022 World Juniors this summer. Dylan Garand (4th, 2020) and Will Cuylle (2nd, 2020) will return for Canada after the original World Juniors was postponed. Brennan Othmann (1st, 2021), who was snubbed for that original roster, will make his World Juniors debut. All three are expected to play critical roles for Team Canada.
Last offseason, Chris Drury spoke about the importance of identifying the right players to fit particular roles on the roster. Having lines with set roles was something that was largely absent during the David Quinn era that was supposed to be rectified with the hiring of Gerard Gallant, specifically with the Rangers bottom 6.
Much like with Alexis Lafreniere, there is a growing call for the Rangers to lock up K’Andre Miller long term. Locking up Lafreniere long term is difficult, as is giving Miller a long term deal. The question isn’t about if the Rangers should do it, it’s whether or not they can afford to do so.
Defying all the odds, signs are pointing to Vitali Kravtsov being a key member of the Rangers forwards next season. All the drama that has transpired is apparently water under the bridge, at least for now, and Kravtsov’s role with the Rangers will be somewhere in the top nine.
The Rangers have re-signed Kaapo Kakko to a 2 year contract, with a cap hit of $2.1 million. The Kakko contract was the last item on Chris Drury’s to-do list this summer, and now it’s just minor things like trading Julien Gauthier. Kakko will likely find himself in...
Normally for my trends and analysis pieces I try to pick some theme to tie it all together. That is going right out the window this time, because much like my summer calendar in trying to balance work and social commitments (who needs to sleep in their own bed anyway?), I just simply have random assorted thoughts and some Rangers Q&A going in all different directions about the Rangers.
Aside from re-signing Kaapo Kakko, which will happen at some point, Chris Drury and the Rangers brass are done for the offseason. However we may get a surprise or two, most notably with an Alexis Lafreniere contract extension. It’s highly unlikely to happen, but there is certainly a good argument to signing a Lafreniere contract extension now, as opposed to next offseason.
The Rangers penalty kill lines are going to get a pretty big shakeup next season. Of the 12 players to average at least a minute of PK time per game last season, 5 will not be back next season. This becomes 6 of 15 players not returning next season when you expand it to 30 seconds per game. That’s a significant chunk of the Rangers penalty kill lines that need to be replaced.
The Rangers appear to be done with their major moves, aside from re-signing Kaapo Kakko. Thus, we are now in “create your lineup” mode of the Rangers offseason. The biggest questions are with the Rangers top 6, as only four of the roles appear set. Depending on who you ask, the Rangers will have different kids in different positions on their top two lines.
The Rangers have re-signed forward Tim Gettinger to a one year contract. Gettinger, the Rangers 5th round in in 2016, has played in 16 NHL games over four years, notching an assist in the 2019-2020 season as his only NHL point to date. Gettinger was the last AHL RFA the...
The Rangers have had the difficult task of replacing Ryan Strome this offseason. They signed Vincent Trocheck long term, which certainly addresses the center position at even strength, but the powerplay is a different animal. Strome was a key contributor as the bumper in the 1-3-1 setup of PP1, and the Blueshirts need to find themselves a replacement, and it may not be as easy as inserting Trocheck into that role.