The Rangers enter the 2023 offseason with 17 players under contract and about $10 million in cap space. (CapFriendly)
UFAS: Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrick Kane, Tyler Motte, Niko Mikkola, Jaro Halak
RFAS: Alexis Lafreniere, K’Andre Miller, Libor Hajek, Zac Jones
Players who need new contracts after next season:
- RFAs with arb rights: Kaapo Kakko, Ryan Lindgren
- RFAs: Braden Schneider
- The Rangers have their first round pick
- Colorado’s third round pick
- Their own sixth round pick and Winnipeg’s sixth round pick.
Traded Draft Picks:
- The Rangers traded Dallas’ first round pick, acquired for Nils Lundkvist, to St. Louis as part of the Vladimir Tarasenko trade.
- Their second round pick to Chicago for Patrick Kane
- Their third round pick was traded to Philadelphia last year for Justin Braun
- Their fourth round pick was traded to Vancouver last year for Tyler Motte
- Their fifth round pick was traded to Winnipeg last year for Andrew Copp
- Their seventh round pick went to Ottawa to acquire Tyler Motte this year.
Brennan Othmann will turn pro next year and Hartford is currently up 2-0 in the second round of the AHL playoffs.
Adam Rotter: It’s hard to know or say for sure what the Rangers are going to do this offseason, especially about 12 hours after the season ended, but the first decision has to be made around Gerard Gallant.
My guess is that Gerard Gallant and Mike Kelly are let go, TBD on the other assistant coaches, and that the Rangers go out and hire a coach with a Stanley Cup on his resume. There are a bunch out there, but the two most appealing are probably Peter Laviolette, who won his only cup in 2006, and Joel Quenneville, who has three since 2010, but needs to be reinstated by the league. I wouldn’t say that it’s a lock that Gallant gets fired, but the Rangers missed on some big expectations and there were stories in December that Dolan wanted Gallant to show more accountability.
With the pending UFAs, I just don’t know about Tarasenko and Kane. I don’t know if the Rangers would want them back, if they would want to be back or, if there was mutual interest, whether a deal could be found. Kane likely needs hip surgery and may not be ready to start next season, so maybe he signs a cheap, one-year deal and can come back when he’s ready. I don’t know one way or the other whether the potential hiring of Joel Quenneville would impact that. Tarasenko might make more sense to try and keep, but it’s a very weak UFA market and he’ll likely be able to command another pretty good contract and one that might eclipse what the Rangers can do.
I liked Niko Mikkola a lot more as he played more with the Rangers, but, again, a weak free agent class likely means more money and more years somewhere else. The Rangers have Louis Domingue signed for next season and multiple young goalies in the minors, so I’m not sure Jaro Halak will be back. Halak mostly played well this season, but every dollar is going to count and he makes about twice as much as Domingue does.
Whether or not they try to keep Tyler Motte likely comes down to whether they try to trade Barclay Goodrow. Goodrow is a solid player, but he makes too much to be on the fourth line, especially with Jimmy Vesey and a potentially returning Motte. Goodrow may have to go, with the Rangers eating at least a little bit of money, to free up cap space.
Because of the tight cap, I think the Rangers will try and give a bridge deal to K’Andre Miller and sign him longer-term after the cap goes up in a couple of years. Alexis Lafreniere would be in the same situation. The Rangers hold the leverage over Lafreniere now and giving him the same deal that they gave Kaapo Kakko or Filip Chytil out of entry level, two-years at just over $2 million or so, would give them more time to see what he is or can be. He won’t turn 22 until around Opening Night, but he struggled for the first half of the year and, while he certainly wasn’t the only one, he didn’t come close in the playoffs to the player he was last year in the playoffs. He’s also still going to be behind Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin on the depth chart and on the PP….but do you really want to give up on the #1 pick after only three years? That said, how long can you keep waiting for him to “break out.”
Maybe Brennan Othmann and Will Cuylle make the team next year, but for them to do that, people are going to need to go.
Overall this was a very disappointing end to what started out as a disappointing season, got better in December, raised expectations higher around the trade deadline and then basically fell flat. On paper the Rangers looked deep, talented and had superstar goaltending. They got the goaltending they needed to win, but only rarely, besides Game 2, came close to being that team that they were supposed to be on paper. They have too many players under long-term and no-move contracts and so unless they convince someone to waive their no-move, unlikely, the only changes can be around the edges or behind the bench.