There is a rather large hole that needs filling by the New York Rangers.
It has been somewhat of an underwhelming, maybe even disappointing start to Free Agency for the New York Rangers, a year removed from stunning the hockey world by bringing superstar Artemi Panarin to The Big Apple.
However, it has been somewhat of a different story this time around with the Rangers opting to instead sign a boatload of low-key signings, including much-maligned former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson.
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Now, granted, the front office have been clever in that some of these additions, like former New Jersey Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid, can be exposed in the upcoming Seattle Expansion Draft, but expectations coming into Free Agency were that the Blueshirts would at least try to add a top-six center or a left-shot defenseman.
Instead, the Rangers’ forward depth in particular was dealt another blow on Saturday after gritty forward Jesper Fast signed a three-year, $2 million AAV contract with the Carolina Hurricanes.
It strips yet another big piece of this franchise’s past away, leaving Chris Kreider as the only player left behind that went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014.
And, not only does another fan favorite depart this off-season, but Fast does leave a rather big hole that needs filling.
He was a rarity on this roster in that he played tough, he eat pucks for breakfast and he was an elite penalty kill specialist. Fast could also be used up and down the lineup and chip in with secondary scoring.
As a result, the Rangers now lack a defense-first, gritty and tough presence on this current roster and that will need to be addressed soon because, as I’ve said many times before, you can’t win with just skill in the National Hockey League.
There are still a boatload of options out on the open market, however, and we’ve picked out four players that could help to replace Jesper Fast in the lineup and provide some much-needed toughness for the New York Rangers.