We all knew that the New York Rangers weren’t going to be big spenders in free agency this summer. They had a limited amount of cap space and about eight roster spots to fill going into next season. They also had to save a big chunk of that money for their restricted free agents, Alexis Lafreniere and K’Andre Miller.
The Rangers have made nine signings as of the time of this writing and none of those players were signed to a deal above $825,000. The Rangers were able to fill the holes in their lineup with good, quality players and were still able to have enough money to sign their players when the time comes. So far, this has been as good an offseason as we could’ve expected from the Rangers.
Let’s start with the forwards they signed. The biggest name brought in was former Winnipeg Jets captain, Blake Wheeler. He signed a one-year deal worth $800,000. He immediately fills one of the voids on the right wing as the Rangers only had Kaapo Kakko on their roster who is a natural right-winger. He is coming off a 55-point season with the Jets and had 6 points in 5 playoff games for the Jets.
He was bought out of the last year of his deal and when that happened, the Rangers became interested and he wanted to come play in New York. He will likely get second-unit power-play time and may find himself in the top six unless Lafreniere has a good start to the year. If that is the case, he can still be relied on to put up good numbers and is a big-body presence that the Rangers are lacking. He might be the best bargain signing of this free agency period.
For the rest of the forwards, they were brought in as depth and as competition for the younger players like Brennan Othmann and Will Cuylle who want to make this team out of training camp. The Rangers signed Nick Bonino, Tyler Pitlick, Alex Belzile, and Riley Nash. All of these players have NHL experience, with Bonino being the most likely to make the team as the fourth-line center.
The other three will be fighting for their roster spot and if they don’t make it, they will either be the extra forward or sent down to play in Hartford. Either way, the Rangers added some good depth forwards who will make their bottom six much better.
For the defense, the one signing they made that will be competition for Zac Jones is Eric Gustafsson. He played extremely well under Peter Laviolette in Washington last season and with him signing with the Rangers, it looks like he will be the sixth defenseman unless Jones can impress out of camp.
Gustafsson is a good offensive defenseman and will likely quarterback the second power-play unit. For the goaltending, the Rangers added Jonathan Quick on a one-year deal. He is reaching the end of his career and the Rangers offer him the chance to play for his childhood team. If he can be as solid as Jaroslav Halak was last season, no one will complain about the signing.
The Rangers entered this offseason with the goal of saving as much money as possible for their restricted free agents. They achieved this goal by signing these players to cheap deals and these players could have a great impact on the team next season. The Rangers did the best they could with the money they had and now, we wait and see what they will look like next season.