NHL free agency opens at noon. Someone get Eric a Life Alert necklace. “HELP, the Rangers signed Nick Bonino to a 5 million a year contract and I can’t get up!”
The Rangers have about $18.5 million in cap space (assuming Klein retires) and have to add the following contracts:
- Re-sign Zibanejad and Fast
- Backup goaltender
- At least one defenseman, should be two, but could go up to three if Klein retires.
- Fourth line center
- Either a first line center, top six winger, or third line center, depending on how the team wants to deploy Zibanejad, Hayes, and Miller.
Some names that the Rangers have been linked to leading up to free agency are as follows:
- Kevin Shattenkirk (sounds unlikely)
- Nick Bonino (sounds likely)
- Joe Thornton (sounds possible)
- Patrick Marleau (sounds possible)
- Ondrej Pavelec (sounds likely)
In an ideal scenario, I would offer sheet Parayko at the top end of the Two firsts, a second, and a third round pick love of the RFA compensation scale. I think he’s an absolute stud. But of course, no one ever offer sheets anyone so it’s just a pipe dream.
So what would I like to see this year? The more I think about it, the more I want to sign Thornton and Marleau, while staying away from guys like Bonino and Hanzal. The idea is to retool rather than rebuild. Thornton and Marleau allow our younger players to continue to develop in lower line roles while keeping us competitive. Because of his likely contract, I would avoid Bonino like the plague. Hanzal would be the next Bobby Holik, except he would be a worse player in a hard salary cap.
I’d probably be out on Shattenkirk, not because of him as a player, or because I’d be worried about his contract in a vacuum (considering we will likely have an amnesty buyout to use after year four), but because signing him will prevent us from adding the rest of the pieces I would want to add.
We do, however, still need to add at least one right handed defenseman. I’d suggest trying to go short term on a guy like Cody Franson but that may be unrealistic. If all else fails I’d go very short term on Dennis Wideman or, if he doesn’t retire, Mark Streit. Outside of that, it is going to be ugly, which brings me back to Shattenkirk. We might be better off just biting the bullet and buying him out after year four. No matter what, we aren’t going to be happy, unless Shattenkirk takes an enormous discount to come to NY, which is very unlikely.
Some depth targets that I’m interested in are Mikhail Grigorenko (about whom I’ve read a lot of good things), Alex Chiasson, Nail Yakupov, Alex Burmistrov, Matt Cullen and Brett Connolly. Depending on other moves, I would potentially be interested in Radim Vrbata, Sam Gagner. I’d also be interested in Brian Boyle (aka BRAN BOLE), but I think there’s no way he comes back to NY with AV as the coach.
For backup goaltender, I’d run, not walk, away from Pavelec. He is not an NHL goaltender. I’d rather sign an unknown like JF Berube than sign a known terrible goaltender like Pavelec or Niemi. Ultimately, I think the best bet for a backup goaltender (since the worthwhile UFA targets all seem to be accounted for going elsewhere), would be to trade for one. Carter Hutton, Alex Stalock, Aaron Dell, Peter Mrazek (at 50% retained salary), Louis Domingue, or Jusse Saros are some options there.
***UPDATE*** As per Bob McKenzie, Pavelec to the Rangers is a done deal. It’s not even noon and they’ve already made a huge mistake. As Dan Rosen points out, they will need 10-15 wins from their backup. Pavelec isn’t even good for 15 wins in the AHL. Someone check on Eric.
See you all on the other side.