Brett Howden struggled to make an impact for the Rangers in the 2021 season, putting up just one goal and seven points in 42 games. But the Rangers announced Friday that Howden, 23, has agreed to terms with the club on a one-year contract, which a source said is a one-way deal that will pay him $885,000.
Howden, a 6-3, 200-pound center who can also play wing, was acquired by the Rangers along with Libor Hajek as part of the 2018 trade deadline deal with Tampa Bay that sent Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller to the Lightning. Howden made the Rangers in his first training camp that fall and has played three seasons, with 16 goals, 33 assists and 53 penalty minutes in 178 games.
He is the second player signed this summer by president and general manager Chris Drury. The Rangers signed defenseman Ryan Lindgren to a three-year deal in May, days after the season ended.
Signing Howden is one of the less complicated items on Drury’s long to-do list this summer. His most immediate priority is to hire a staff of assistants for new coach Gerard Gallant, but he also needs to hire an assistant GM and other front office personnel, all while preparing for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft July 21, the NHL entry draft July 24-25 and free agency beginning July 28.
Drury also needs to re-sign the Rangers’ own restricted free agents, as he did with Lindgren and Howden. Top-six right wing Pavel Buchnevich, who had perhaps his best season in 2021, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and figures to be in line for a decent raise over the $3.5 million he earned last season. Goaltender Igor Shesterkin, defenseman Libor Hajek and forwards Filip Chytil and Julien Gauthier all are coming off entry-level contracts and are restricted free agents. Shesterkin, who took over as the No. 1 goaltender in 2021, is eligible for arbitration.
Drury also will likely need to buy out the final year of the contract of defenseman Tony DeAngelo, whom the team waived in January. The NHL’s first buyout window opened Friday and remains open until July 27. Drury likely will wait until after the expansion draft to buy DeAngelo out. That way, he can leave the defenseman exposed for Seattle to take if they wish.