BUFFALO — The beginning of the Rangers’ summer makeover will wait for at least another day.
Try as they might, the Rangers, with no first-round pick for the fourth consecutive season, were unable to trade up into the first round of Friday night’s NHL Draft at First Niagara Center. It was another long night, watching all that talent go by.
Meanwhile, 32-year-old Rick Nash — and his $7.8-million salary-cap charge — remains a Blueshirt. So do centers Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard, who have lucrative long-term contracts and were among the names surfacing as possible trade bait. And their three key restricted free-agent forwards, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes — with whom the Rangers have not begun negotiating new contracts — still are on Broadway.
And they added no one to join a team that was eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Unless things change, Kevin Shattenkirk, the 27-year-old Blues defenseman who grew up in New Rochelle, won’t be a Ranger, either. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told reporters that no offers for Shattenkirk have come close to being acceptable. Shattenkirk has a cap hit of $4.25 million and is eligible to be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
The Rangers, trying to create cap space, have made two notable moves so far: signing backup goaltender Antti Raanta for two years and trading Keith Yandle’s rights to Florida for a sixth-round pick and a conditional fourth-rounder next year, which became reality when Yandle agreed to a seven-year, $44.5-million contract with the Panthers.
Evidence of their financial predicament was underscored by Yandle, who was in Buffalo wearing a No. 16 Panthers jersey while speaking to the media. He reiterated that he enjoyed his time in New York but knew that returning was not in the cards.
“It was one of the things where we knew they had to move some money. With the way the salary cap is, it didn’t get worked out. I understand the business,” Yandle said. “It never got to that point. They knew they couldn’t do anything, and it was in their best interest to go out and get something for me.”
On Saturday, the Rangers will add some depth, at the very least. They have six selections — Nos. 81, 98, 141, 171, 174 and 201 — but general manager Jeff Gorton also will continue to pursue trades. Oilers center Ryan Nugent Hopkins reportedly is available, as are Coyotes center Martin Hanzal and Maple Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk.