Jacob Trouba in Game Five against the Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden...

Jacob Trouba in Game Five against the Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on May 13, 2024. Credit: Getty Images/Bruce Bennett

There’s still a lot of summer left, and general manager Chris Drury still could make a trade or two to reshape the Rangers’ roster. But with the draft and the first week of free agency behind him now, it’s not looking promising for Drury to be able to make radical improvements before training camp opens in September.

To be fair, the Rangers did win the Presidents’ Trophy in 2023-24, and they did reach the Eastern Conference final. So they already were good. And the Florida Panthers, who eliminated them in six games in the conference final, did lose some pieces to free agency after winning the Stanley Cup.

But other teams got better. The Devils, in particular, look much improved after trading for goalie Jacob Markstrom, adding a couple of defensemen in free agency, bringing back forwards Stefan Noesen and Tomas Tatar, and hiring coach Sheldon Keefe. In comparison, the Rangers’ offseason is looking a little underwhelming.

Unsuccessful in his reported attempts to trade captain Jacob Trouba before free agency opened last Monday, Drury didn’t have enough money available under the salary cap to be a player for any of the big-name free agents. Instead, he traded for forward Reilly Smith, giving up a couple of draft picks to Pittsburgh to bring in a veteran the Rangers hope can be a short-term solution for the hole at right wing on the Mika Zibanenad-Chris Kreider line. He also signed fourth-line center Sam Carrick.

As of now, it looks as if Trouba will be back on the team next fall. Forward Kaapo Kakko, who seemed like an absolute goner after being scratched for Game 2 of the conference final, is still here, too. If those two return, then once Drury re-signs restricted free agent defensemen Ryan Lindgren and Braden Schneider, the Rangers will look almost the same as when the season ended.

They lost forwards Alex Wennberg (to San Jose) and Jack Roslovic (to Carolina) and defenseman Erik Gustafsson (to Detroit) in free agency, and Barclay Goodrow was lost to San Jose on waivers. But if Trouba and Kakko return, they’ll have added only Smith and Carrick to the roster. Filip Chytil likely would replace Wennberg as the third-line center and Zac Jones presumably would replace Gustafsson as the sixth defenseman.

If so, Smith had better click with Zibanejad and Kreider, because if not, what then? Can they count on Artemi Panarin to score 120 points again?

The Rangers still could trade Kakko, but they won’t dump him for a mid-round draft pick or anything like that. And they still could buy Trouba out of the two years remaining on his contract (when Lindgren filed for arbitration Friday, that created the possibility of the Rangers opening a second buyout window this summer). If they did that, though, they would have to find a replacement for Trouba. And at this point, who could they get who would be better than he is?

So as of right now, it’s looking as if like the Rangers are bringing back essentially the same team as they had last season.

Will that be good enough?

What to do with Kakko

One of the reasons to move Kakko would be to open a spot on the third line for a prospect such as 2021 first-round pick Brennan Othmann, who scored 21 goals for Hartford last season, his first as a professional.

“I played well, I developed well,’’ Othmann, 21, said last week at the Rangers’ prospect development camp. “I progressed as a player and as a person as well. I learned a lot and . . . so [I’ll try to] build off of that going into next season and hopefully try to make the team.’’

If Kakko is around, though, that might be difficult. Right now, the Rangers’ lines most likely would be  Panarin-Vincent Trocheck-Alexis Lafreniere; Kreider-Zibanejad-Smith; Will Cuylle-Chytil-Kakko and Jimmy Vesey-Carrick-Matt Rempe. Othmann likely wouldn’t play on the fourth line, so if he’s not on the third line (or higher), he’d likely be going back to Hartford.

If he plays well enough in camp to force his way onto the team, he could be slotted in at left wing on the third line, with Cuylle dropping to the fourth line, Vesey shifting from left wing to right, and Rempe being the odd man out.

Emery ‘fired up’

E.J. Emery, the Rangers’ first-round pick in last weekend’s draft, said he models his game after Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller. He was excited to get a congratulatory text message from Miller after he was drafted.

“That was pretty cool,’’ he said. “I opened my messages and I saw K’Andre texted me, and I was pretty fired up from that.’’

Emery, who is heading to the University of North Dakota in the fall, said he’s always been a defensive defenseman.

“If they don’t score, they can’t win,’’ he said. “So that was always a big thing for me, being able to defend.’’

Sykora borrows Kakko’s skates

Forward Adam Sykora took part in the Rangers’ prospect development camp wearing borrowed gear after his equipment was lost while he traveled from Slovakia. He wore Kakko’s skates and said the coaches told him he had a strong camp. Sykora just finished his first full year as a pro in the Rangers’ organization with Hartford and recorded eight goals and 15 assists in 66 games. He went 0-3-3 in 10 Wolf Pack playoff games.

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