The 2017 NHL free agent class features Justin Williams. With the New York Rangers coming off an early postseason exit, they may try to acquire Williams to win a Stanley Cup.
Justin Williams is someone who should be on the radar of many teams during free agency.
In 1,080 regular season games, Williams has scored 273 points and tacked on 409 assists for 682 points across four NHL teams. Williams won a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2007, and the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014.
Williams, highly touted for his clutch performances time in and time out in the postseason, has had a hand in three Stanley Cup wins. In 140 playoff games, Williams has 36 goals and 58 assists for 94 points. He also won the Conn Smyth for the 2014 playoffs. Williams is the embodiment of clutch.
Surprisingly, age has yet to catch up with Williams. He turns 36 in October, but is coming off a 24 goal and 24 assist regular season for the Washington Capitals. Since he joined the Capitals in 2015, he has 100 points in 162 games.
Williams to New York won’t work
The New York Rangers cannot and should not take on Justin Williams this offseason for a handful of reasons. The Rangers already have multiple players with decent playoff experience, Williams is expensive, and doesn’t slot well into the Rangers lineup.
As it stands, Justin Williams may not have a spot in the Rangers lineup if signed. The Rangers would likely find a way to make room if they do sign him, but Williams plays right wing and the Rangers have a plethora of quality right wingers.
The Rangers currently employ Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, Pavel Buchnevich, and Jesper Fast on the right wing. In the pipeline, Robin Kovacs is making waves in Hartford. The Rangers have no need to add a right wing when they’re set on the right side.
The Rangers have not missed the playoffs since the 2010 season. The roster boasts multiple players with extensive playoff experience. Although none of the current Rangers have Williams’ playoff credentials, it does not mean it has to be fixed.
Ryan McDonough has played in 96 playoff games. Derek Stepan has played in 97. Henrik Lundqvist has played in 128 and has been clutch on his own. If the draw to getting Justin Williams is his playoff experience, the Rangers shouldn’t be interested at all. Although it wouldn’t hurt to add the experience, the current core does not need over other areas of need.
Another cog in the machine is the price. Williams is coming off a two year/$6.5 million contract with the Capitals. The argument can be made that Williams deserves a one or two year deal in the same ball park for his next contract. However, the Rangers don’t have the money to spend.
Mika Zibanejad is due for a hefty contract extension, not to mention Jesper Fast and Brendan Smith should be resigned. The Rangers have had their eye on Williams’ brief teammate Kevin Shattenkirk. There will be other free agents with a lower price tag for what Williams can do.
When it comes down to it, the Rangers don’t need Justin Williams’ services. Although he is a top of the line performer in the postseason, the Rangers already have the grit and toughness they need from young core members. The trap of aging veterans is one the Rangers often fall into, but acquiring Williams would be jaw dropping.