The trades of Carl Hagelin to Anaheim and Cam Talbot to Edmonton during the NHL Draft last weekend and the acquisitions of Emerson Etem from the Ducks and goalie Antti Raanta from Chicago left the Rangers more wiggle room under the salary cap.
The Blueshirts now have a little more flexibility to cover new deals with restricted free agents Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast and Etem, which will consume much of the space, as well as perhaps signing another bottom-six forward and a depth defenseman. The Rangers had about $11.5 million available before the transactions.
Adding more than that is impossible without another trade. Heading into the opening of the free-agent market on Wednesday, the Rangers have to deploy their extra dollars wisely, although they could push slightly above the $71.4-million cap as long as they are compliant by opening night.VoteRangers 2016-17: Keep 'em or dump 'em?Photos3 names to watch for the Rangers in free agency
Believed to be on the Rangers' radar are unrestricted free-agent forwards Eric Fehr, Shawn Matthias, Daniel Winnik, Mike Santorelli and Erik Condra, although several could be too pricey, given the Blueshirts' finances.
For a spare defenseman, the Rangers could offer a nice raise to dependable Matt Hunwick, 30, who earned $600,000 last season while playing 55 games and averaging almost 16 minutes on ice. He skates well and had two goals, 11 points, a plus-17 rating, 72 shots, 55 hits and 43 blocks.
The Rangers did open up a slot under the 50-contract limit on Monday by not extending a qualifying offer to restricted free agent defenseman Conor Allen, 25, who was 6-25-31 in 72 games for the Hartford Wolfpack and did not register a point in seven NHL games the past two seasons.
They did extend offers to restricted free agents Oscar Lindberg, Dylan McIlrath, Marek Hrivik and Mat Bodie.