One dream, one realistic, and one bargain player the NY Rangers must target in NHL free agency

The NY Rangers may not have much cap space to work with in NHL free agency, but it doesn’t mean they can land a dream player at a discount.
Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers
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Bargain Free Agent: Henri Jokiharju, D/Buffalo Sabres

A potential odd man out in the Sabres defensive rotation, Henri Jokiharju is a restricted free agent, but he would have a tough time carving out a role in Buffalo next season. That said, there’s a chance general manager Kevyn Adams decides not to re-sign him, which will ultimately allow Jokiharju to test the free agency market, or better yet, he can always trade his signing rights.

Admittedly, Jokiharju wouldn’t be a game-breaker, but few potential bargain free agents are. Instead, he’s got untapped two-way potential, he can be aggressive, and him being the likely odd man out with the Sabres has nothing to do with lack of productivity as much as it is lack of glamor. 

Buffalo has a star player in Rasmus Dahlin, a star in the making in Owen Power, a seasoned veteran in Connor Clifton, plus high-potential players in Ryan Johnson and Bowen Byram, the latter of whom can also put up some high-scoring outings. Then there’s Mattias Samuelsson, the team’s sledgehammer, which leaves Jokiharju, at best, as a seventh defenseman in this group. 

But he watched just 49 goals find the net at even strength in 74 games, which is 19 fewer than he saw last season in 60 outings. Jokiharju is also an above-average supplement when a team needs supplementation while short-handed, and he outplayed his possession quality at even strength with a plus-14 when his expected number sat at minus-1.8. 

He doesn’t play the most exciting game, but the former first-round pick is an underrated player who will more than go for a discount to someone if he isn’t back in Buffalo. Again, this may be a case where a team interested in targeting Jokiharju may need to trade for him instead of signing him in free agency, but a potential acquisition would be well worth it. 


(Statistics powered by Hockey-Reference)