Following the hiring of Gerard Gallant, the Rangers will move into the next phase of their offseason.
Gallant needs to hire the rest of the coaching staff, outside of Benoit Allaire, which will include replacing video coach Jerry Dineen. Dineen had been with the Rangers as video coach for the past 27 seasons.
The Rangers, as of now, are slated to have $23.7 million in cap space with the following:
- RFA: Pavel Buchnevich, Julien Gauthier, Brett Howden, Filip Chytil, Libor Hajek and Igor Shesterkin
- UFA: Phil Di Giuseppe, Brendan Smith
The Rangers will lose one player during the Seattle expansion draft with Gauthier, Kevin Rooney, Colin Blackwell, Anthony Bitetto, and Tony DeAngelo as the most likely candidates to be left unprotected.
DeAngelo, who was sent home early in the season is still not in the Rangers future plans and will either be selected by Seattle or bought out at 1/3 of his remaining salary. (NY Post)
Mika Zibanejad is slated to be a UFA following next season and is eligible for a contract extension this summer. Adam Fox, and Kaapo Kakko are also eligible for extensions this summer.
Elliotte Friedman said on the 31 Thoughts Podcast, “they’ve gotta decide on Zibanejad, I assume at some point they are going to talk about extending Fox.”
He added that Zibanejad is “one of their biggest questions, what is his next deal? What is his next deal and Fox’s next deal and what does that allow them to do around them?
Last offseason, former Rangers GM Jeff Gorton was speaking about potential moves and said “keep in mind the big picture, we want to play well this season, we want to get harder and grittier as we move along, but when we manage a hockey club we think about today, tomorrow, the future, we like some of the pieces that we have that will put us into that position.” (MSG)
Adam Rotter: It remains hard to predict what the Rangers will do this summer under Chris Drury and now Gerard Gallant. We know the Rangers are going to add grit, we know they are going to get tougher and we are pretty sure that to add those pieces they are going to start moving some of the prospects and young players they have accumulated the last few years.
But the biggest thing revolves around Zibanejad, his future and then Jack Eichel. The belief from this past fall, and even a little before that, about the Rangers being the most likely destination for Eichel has cooled. The Rangers interest in him may or may not have changed with the switch from Jeff Gorton to Chris Drury, but many around the league believe that the Sabres preference is to send him out West, maybe Anaheim or Minnesota, and that for Eichel to end up with the Rangers they would need to pay a “Rangers tax” of sorts and overpay.
I think that the Rangers would like to sign Zibanejad and will possibly jump at the chance if his number comes in under $9 million. That said, Zibanejad coming in at under $9 million likely means a 7-8 year deal, which is a tradeoff the Rangers may have to make to maximize potential cap space.
The flexibility they have with cap space right now is likely to shrink quickly in the next couple of years with Igor Shesterkin’s next contract, Pavel Buchnevich’s, if he isn’t moved, and the big, hopefully long-term extension for Adam Fox. Ottawa signed Thomas Chabot to an eight-year deal worth $8 million a year and that is probably a starting point for Fox. The Rangers will probably also wait and see what Cale Makar’s extension with Colorado looks like and possibly Quinn Hughes’ in Vancouver. Fox was the Rangers MVP this year and could end up holding that title for a long time, so if anyone is going to eat up the bulk of the cap space, it should be him and it will be worth it. They have time, but the sooner they can get it done the better.
Shesterkin’s next contract will be interesting. Circumstances are different, but Henrik Lundqvist signed a one-year deal out of his two-year entry-level contract and then a six-year deal, and then the seven-year deal that was due to expire this season. Unlike all the other “rookie” and entry-level players, Shesterkin is close to being a UFA and so the Rangers can either go long-term now or potentially kick it down the road one more year and go from there.
There are tons of questions about signing Pavel Buchnevich to a multi-year deal and then likely using Kaapo Kakko or Vitali Kravtsov in a trade package, or trading Buchnevich and going with the other two in the top-six, where Filip Chytil fits, where Ryan Strome fits long-term and numerous ones about which defensemen will stay, which will go and who they might target in free agency.
It’s going to be a busy offseason for the Rangers, they are going to be linked to numerous players and are likely going to make more than a few moves to make the playoffs a reality next season.