Mark it down, Thursday noon: Live chat.
We'll talk about what's next for the Rangers, including many of the free agents, prospects, potential draftees and trade targets that I covered in a story/graphic on Sunday, which is below, in case you missed it. Shame on ya. Hahah.
You'll note that a lot of outlets have since picked up on some of the info, so it's worth a look...
What’s next for the Rangers, who have the core of a Stanley Cup contender? Based on playoff performance, youngsters Chris Kreider and Ryan McDonagh should only get better with age. But the Blueshirts have some avenues to pursue in order to further improve next season.
Decisions are needed on eight unrestricted and three restricted free agents. Management will certainly test the free-agent waters. On the trade front, is another run at Columbus power forward Rick Nash in the offing? What about fishing for Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan, a New Jersey native? For the future, the Rangers have the 28th pick in the draft on June 22-23 in Pittsburgh. Or perhaps that pick could be packaged in a swap.
A quick overview:
Five top free agents:
Zach Parise, Devils. If the captain doesn’t return to New Jersey, and indications are that he will check his options to cash in elsewhere, the 27-year-old left wing would be an ideal fit on Broadway, but the Red Wings and other clubs will be in the hunt. Has scored between 31 and 45 goals each year that he’s been healthyand is familiar with coach John Tortorella from Team USA.
Ryan Suter, Predators. Wisconsin native, another Team USA medalist, All-Star defenseman, 27, averaged 26:30 on ice. Career high 46 points, 25 on the power play. Wants long-term deal, probably in $7 million per range.
Shane Doan, Coyotes. Loves Phoenix, but the 35-year-old might be persuaded to take a short-term deal with a contender.
David Jones, Avalanche. More of a secondary scorer, but the 6-foot-2 right wing was 20-17-37 this season in Colorado and could help at the right price.
Dustin Penner, Kings. Won Cup with Ducks in 2007. The 6-4, 245 pound left wing was 21-18-39 with Oilers in 2010-11, slumped badly this season, but scored overtime winner against Coyotes last week.
Justin Schultz. A lot of teams, including the Rangers are interested. The Wisconsin junior defenseman, who apparently filed paperwork to officially withdraw from school, was a 2008 second-round draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks, but without signing, is free to negotiate a deal. The two-time All-American is projected as a top four blueliner with offensive skills. Note: Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh are ex-Badgers.
Rick Nash. With all the trade deadline drama and his unhappiness in Columbus, can’t see him staying in Ohio; will most likely be moved for a package before July 1. He’s a quality power forward, 27, but his contract is massive: A $7.8 million annual cap hit through 2017-18. Rangers would have to move big dollars, players and prospects there or elsewhere.
Bobby Ryan. 30-plus goals for the Cherry Hill native in last three seasons. Will the Ducks, who missed the playoffs, be willing to swap his $5-million contract for prospects and players? They have All-Stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, but might be willing to listen to offer for the 25-year-old.
Jarome Iginla. With a new coach coming in, Calgary’s durable, passionate 34-year-old might agree to a deal to a contender. Has played 82 games in seven of past eight years, scored between 32 and 50 goals each one. Only one season left before becoming UFA. Calgary needs to shed some money and rebuild.
Unrestricted free agents:
Martin Biron. The well-liked and solid veteran backup is likely to return.
Brandon Prust. Scrapper and penalty-killer. Won’t break the bank.
Ruslan Fedotenko. A Tortorella favorite, earned $1.4 million, interesting call here.
John Mitchell. Was benched in playoffs when Brandon Dubinsky was healthy.
Stu Bickel. Rookie defenseman has promise, but how much upside?
Steve Eminger. Might not have room for sixth or seventh defenseman.
Jeff Woywitka. October waiver claim didn’t dress in last 39 games.
John Scott. Trade deadline move didn’t pan out.
Restricted free agents:
Michael Del Zotto. Still raw in some areas, had difficult playoffs. But only earning a little over $1 million. Short-term investement or trade possible?
Mats Zuccarello. Diminutive winger doesn’t want two-way deal, could opt to play in Europe or Russia.
Anton Stralman. Improved during season, good playoffs, but prospect Tim Erixon may make him expendable.
On the cusp?
Defensemen Tim Erixon, who played 18 games for the Blueshirts, and the remainder in the AHL, should get a long look in training camp. So will J.T. Miller, last year’s No. 1 draft pick; Christian Thomas, 34 goals, 67 points in 55 games with Oshawa, and Michael St. Croix, 45-60-105 in the regular season, a 7-12-19 playoff and a WHL championship with the Edmonton Oil Kings.
The Rangers will have the 28th pick in the first round. Five forwards who might be available (no particular order).
Brendan Gaunce, C, Belleville. 6-2, 210. Effective point-a-game pivot who could slide down. Comparable: Ryan O’Reilly.
Scott Laughton. C, Oshawa. Smart, competitive; projects to second or third-line center. Comparable: Mike Richards.
Colton Sissons. RW, (pronounced Sizz-ens). Kelowna. Captain of Rockets, strong two-way player, top-six potential, 26 goals in 58 games.
Niklas Kerdiles, LW. A 6-1 power forward out of the U.S. Under-18 development program. Comparable: Brandon Dubinsky.
Steffan Matteau, LW. Yes, the son of playoff hero Stephane. Committed to the University of North Dakota. Another USHL player. Gritty, with net-front finish, truculence.