The New York Rangers have made plenty of moves this free agency, including bringing in veterans Blake Wheeler and Jonathan Quick to fill roles this season. While these two have gotten the headlines, the Rangers have brought in some more veterans, such as Nick Bonino, Tyler Pitlick and Erik Gustaffson, who all will play at the bottom of the lineup.
But, the Rangers have a lot more to do before training camp starts, mainly in regards to Alexis Lafreniere and K’Andre Miller. Both youngsters are restricted free agents, and Chris Drury is working with both to bring them back to New York next season. Drury has stated that both players will be Rangers next season.
Assuming Lafreniere and Miller re-sign, what else can the Rangers do to make their team better? With their cap situation, can the Rangers bring in more talent?
Yes. Enter Patrick Kane.
Kane had a tumultous tenure with the Blueshirts, tallying 12 points (5 G, 7 A) in 19 games. There were highs, such as Game 2 against the Devils, and lows, where Kane disappeared in crucial games when the hope was his experience would put New York over the top.
Now, there are a few things that make Kane to New York more likely.
First is Kane’s offseason progress. Recently, he had hip surgery, with a timeline of recovery from four to six months. Though he will not be ready for the start of the season, it also lowers his value. Kane might be willing to take a smaller veteran’s salary in hopes that he can return to start form. For the Rangers and Chris Drury, a one-year contract for Kane can work.
If Lafreniere and Miller combine for around $6-7 million annually, the Rangers will not have a lot of money to work with. But, with Kane undoubtedly starting the season on the long-term injury reserve, New York can do some cap accrual for Kane to return. Reports have also come out that Kane might wait until the season to sign. If this is true, the Rangers have to pounce.
Non-money related, it comes down to this. The Rangers have had a good free agency so far. But, the two Metropolitan Division teams ahead of the Rangers right now, the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils, have had better.
Starting with the Canes, who got swept in the Eastern Conference Finals last year: they have bolstered their defense by bringing in Dimitri Orlov along with Michael Bunting for some offensive firepower. Carolina might be the favorite in the Metro right now.
The Devils, who the Rangers just lost to, re-signed Timo Meier for eight years and traded for Tyler Tiffoli. While they lost Damon Severson, they still have a young defensive core that can grow. Goaltending might be their only weakness, though it did not show in the series against the Rangers.
In order for the Rangers to keep up with these two teams, Kane might be the option. New York is a team ready to contend, and even with Kane’s recent history and the Rangers’ cap situation, he might be necessary for the Rangers to get back to where they want to be.