After a magical ride that saw the New York Rangers make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, general manager Glen Sather was handed a tough task: keeping the Eastern Conference champions intact.
Although that was never going to happen. When a team makes a run to the Final, everyone is watching. And when everyone is watching, pending UFAs get overpaid.
Anton Stralman, Benoit Pouliot and Brian Boyle are prime examples. All three had strong playoff campaigns, all were impending free agents and now all are overpaid and on other teams.
Sather simply didn’t have the cap space to offer the trio the money they could get on the open market. And even if he did, I would like to think he wouldn’t have given it to them.
With a plethora of RFAs to sign, Sather will need to look to the farm to fill the holes the three—along with buyout Brad Richards—have left behind.
Fortunately, the organization has players ready to make the jump. They may not necessarily replicate their predecessors success, but they’ll have the opportunity to do so.
In that vein, here are the five most likely candidates to make the Rangers' opening night roster come fall.
Note: J.T. Miller is not included on this list, as he will most likely be a roster player. Brady Skjei is also not included, as he may return to the University of Minnesota.