In the Expansion Draft for the Vegas Golden Knights, the New York Rangers lost Oscar Lindberg. From that point all eyes were directed to free agency. There were some obvious holes in the lineup that needed to be filled. In fact, an even bigger hole seemed to emerge when the Rangers traded both Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes.
At this point that was two centers gone in a single week. The center position instantly became a free agency priority for the Rangers. Unfortunately, although the Rangers had plenty of cap space, this year was a very weak one for free agent centers. Many believed that the Rangers would package their draft picks in order to trade for a star center such as Matt Duchene or Nathan MacKinnon. However, by the time of the draft this turned out to be untrue.
The biggest splash for the Rangers this free agency was one that many have been anticipating. The Rangers signed the New York native d-man Kevin Shattenkirk. When the Rangers didn’t acquire Shattenkirk at last season’s trade deadline it was the general consensus throughout the fan base that “It’s okay, we’ll have him in July”. Shattenkirk has expressed his desire to play for the Rangers multiple times throughout his career and now it is finally a reality.
OFFICIAL: #NYR have agreed to terms with FA d-man Kevin Shattenkirk.
RangersTown lets welcome home a true New Yorker at heart @shattdeuces! pic.twitter.com/xQ4DGSupNx
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) July 1, 2017
It turns out that Shattenkirk truly was a man of his word and did in fact take less money in order to play for the New York Rangers. The Rangers inked Shattenkirk for a 4 year deal worth 26.6 million dollars. (6.6 AAV) The most remarkable part of this contract for the Rangers is the length. Shattenkirk was seeking a 7 year deal and the Rangers were able to only sign him for 4. That means he’s under contract with the Rangers until he’s 32 years old. The Rangers clearly haven’t had the best luck with signing defenseman into their mid-late 30s.
One thing the Rangers desperately needed help with is their power play. Shattenkirk is assumed to be the solution to the problem. Shattenkirk has unbelievable offensive abilities and the Rangers will rely on that. Everyone is anticipating seeing how Shattenkirk will fit in his new pairing with Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh. Everyone seems to be optimistic and overall excited at the prospect. Ryan McDonagh has proven himself to be a star defenseman and a leader on the ice for the Rangers. Now he’ll be partnered with a player in Shattenkirk who excels on the other end of the ice and it should certainly be an entertaining duo.
Potential Defensive Core
McDonagh-Shattenkirk, Skjei-Smith, Staal-Holden, Deangelo
The remaining issue is that the Rangers could certainly use another center. They just recently signed David Desharnais to a one year deal worth one million dollars. That was a solid signing because it fills the hole left by Oscar Lindberg. The Rangers still haven’t found a replacement for Derek Stepan. Some feel that Mika Zibanejad will step up and be the team’s number one center. Zibanejad filed for arbitration and will likely have a new contract in the upcoming days.
Right now the only listed centers on the Rangers roster are Mika Zibanejad and David Desharnais. That leaves two holes needed of filling. Both J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes can play center and there’s the possibility of the centers just drafted. This leaves the possibility of a trade.
One of the rumors that actually make sense is trading for Tyler Bozak of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The next logical move is to move Holden and a prospect for Tyler Bozak. Sets the team for this year and gives flexibility next offseason.
— FullTilt Rangers (@NYR_FullTilt) July 4, 2017
Bozak has been linked to the Rangers in the past and this summer it could very well happen. Toronto is over the salary cap and Bozak seems to be odd man out and could be exiting Toronto via trade in the near future. A potential trade between the two would be the Rangers receiving Tyler Bozak, and the Maple Leafs receiving Nick Holden and a prospect. This could certainly be the final piece to the puzzle for the Rangers lineup. Bozak is capable of putting up points and winning face offs.
Again, rumors are rumors and we will just have to wait and see. After Zibanejad’s contract is finalized the Rangers will still have a little money in the bank. This number will only increase if/when Kevin Klein officially retires. At this point, Rangers fans just need to sit back and wait to find out what the next move will be.