The free agency period in the NHL is only a few days old and plenty of action has already occurred. Tons of players have signed new contracts with a new team or found themselves re-signing with their old team.
One team that has made a splash in the free agency pool is the New York Rangers. Whether it is signing new players or losing players that were on the Rangers last year, the franchise has seen plenty of changes.
However, the Rangers also lost some key guys, which includes John Mitchell, who signed a two-year, $2.2 million contract with Colorado, goalie Chad Johnson signed with Phoenix, John Scott signed a one-year, $600k deal with Buffalo, Jeff Woywitka signed one-year deal with St. Louis and prospect Jonathan Audy-Marchessault signed an entry-level deal with Columbus. The biggest blow came with the New York Rangers saying goodbye to Brandon Prust, who inked a four-year $10 million contract with Montreal.
With plenty of time left in free agency, the Rangers still have their sights set on a few players. Here are some storylines involved with the Blueshirts offseason.
According to a report, when Ryan was being shopped around the first time, Buffalo was very interested along with the Rangers. They were so interested that they were willing to part ways with franchise goaltender Ryan Miller for Ryan and goaltender Jonas Hiller. The deal nearly went through until Milan Lucic crashed into Miller causing a concussion.
The Flyers are also on Ryan’s radar. With them trading James van Riemsdyk to Toronto for Luke Schenn, the Flyers need a winger. Ryan can be that winger and will be playing for a team he rooted for as a kid growing up in New Jersey.
There should be no surprise that Rick Nash is on this list. The Rangers have been eyeing him since the trade deadline from this past season.
Glen Sather likes Nash and the Rangers are on Nash’s list of teams he would play for. It seems the two are a perfect fit for each other. However, there is a complications.
One complication is that the Rangers are not willing to trade Ryan McDonagh, Chris Kreider or Derek Stepan for Nash. Columbus seems like they want one or more of those players in the deal.
When asked about possibly trading Nash, Columbus general manager Scott Howson stated, "I think in free agency now, that's where teams' attention is. We'll figure out after the chips fall if there's something there that would make sense for us."
Both teams seem content on waiting and getting the best deal possible. With the Rangers out of the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter sweepstakes, all focus is placed on Nash. It will just be a matter of finding the right players to fulfill Scott Howson’s high asking price for him.
While the Rangers have not expressed interested in Matt Carle, he is someone they should look at. After losing the Justin Shultz sweepstakes (via ESPN), the Rangers can always use some else to help along the blue line and Carle can be that.
He is a great offensive defenseman, who scored 12 points on the power play this past season with Philadelphia. He notched 38 points during the regular season and is considered the second best defenseman available in free agency, behind Ryan Suter. He is also behind Suter in signing with a team in free agency. According to TSN Bob McKenzie, Carle will not sign anywhere until Suter signs.
Carle is waiting for Suter to sign to see what kind of money he could acquire. If Suter signs for the big money that he expects to sign for, expect Carle to ask for big money as well. If that is true, the Rangers might shy away from signing him, especially if they really want Nash. However, if the price is right, they could sign Carle and use Michael Del Zotto as trade bait (when he is signed) for Nash.
...Shane Doan can be someone to look at if you are the Rangers.
Doan stated that he would not decide his free agency faith until July 9th. The Coyotes captain is waiting to see if Greg Jamison’s bid to buy the Coyotes is successful.
Doan has played all 17 of his NHL seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes franchise. In that span, he has scored 310 goals in 1,198 games and has scored at least 50 points in all but one of the last 12 seasons.
While Doan states he does not want to leave, he has become very frustrated with the ownership situation. He stated in an interview with Arizona Sports 620 that the franchise’s “[h]ands are so tied with the whole stumbling block that keeps popping up with the team, and that is frustrating. I'd love for it to be the whole time in Phoenix. I've made no bones about that. I've really enjoyed my time here and like it here and this is where my family is from and it's what we want to do. But at the same time, it's such a unique and difficult situation.”
Rangers’ fans will anxiously wait as July 9th approaches. If Doan does become a free agent, expect the Rangers to be making a bid to sign him. He will provide scoring that the Rangers need and will bring some veteran leadership that will help the younger players.
Larry Brooks was right when he said via Twitter, “If NYR won’t include Stepan in offer for Ryan, which they don't seem willing to do, they have zero chance. Seems like Nash or no one at moment.”
It pains me to see the future of the New York Rangers traded away for someone like Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan, but it needs to be done if you want to land a player of their caliber. Players like Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Michael Del Zotto and Ryan McDonagh all have bright futures. They are sure to be superstars in this league…just not with the New York Rangers.
If I had to make a trade, Tim Erixon and Michael Del Zotto would be two young players I would look to dangle in front of Columbus. Add Artem Anismov/Brandon Dubinsky to the mix with a future 1st or 2nd round pick and that may be enough to land Nash.
With the Rangers not making a huge signing in free agency so far, Rick Nash might be the only option the Rangers have to improve the team and bring them to the Stanley Cup. In the end, that is what all Ranger fans want.