Rangers look to be reliant on free agency - Metro US

Rangers look to be reliant on free agency

Washington Capitals defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. (Photo: Getty Images)

There has been no shortage of wheeling and dealing around the NHL throughout the last week or so since the days leading up to the Vegas expansion draft.

But the New York Rangers have been generally quiet despite making some notable transactions.

Veteran defenseman Dan Girardi’s contract was bought out before New York dealt forward Derek Stepan and goalie Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes for the No. 7 pick of last Friday’s NHL draft and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo.

With that pick, the Rangers picked up talented Swedish forward Lias Andersson, one of the highest-rated European skaters in the 2017 draft class.

While it’s a solid addition, the rest of the Metropolitan Division is improving by leaps and bounds.

On the trade front, the Islanders acquired Jordan Eberle from the Edmonton Oilers and the Columbus Blue Jackets picked up Artemi Panarin from the Chicago Blackhawks. In the draft, the New Jersey Devils selected Nico Hischier with the first pick while the Philadelphia Flyers’ consolation was the explosive Nolan Patrick.

Of course, this is being added to a division that already contains the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and the two-time President’s Trophy-winning Washington Capitals.

The clock is ticking for the Rangers to go out and make something happen, or else they are going to be left behind in hockey’s toughest division.

Lucky for them, the moves they did make were able to free up over $20 million worth of cap space that can be used on the free-agent market, which opens July 1.

The largest need for the team is for a top-tier defenseman that can take some pressure off goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. They also are desperate for a quarterback of the power play, which was a train wreck during the postseason.

Kevin Shattenkirk fits both of those needs as the heavy-shooting right-hander is one of the top prizes to be had on the free-agent market.

He also grew up in New Rochelle idolizing Brian Leetch and the Rangers. Can’t get much of a better fit than that.

But there is also an infusion of offensive talent that needs to be added to replace the losses of Stepan and Oscar Lindberg. It’s likely that the Rangers will take a look at physical forward Alexander Radulov who played last season with the Montreal Canadiens.

Nick Bonino and even veteran Joe Thornton could also be viewed as options to come in and help open up the offense. Bonino can bring close to 20 goals to the table while Thornton has some of the best on-ice vision that the game has seen in the last 15 years.

He can also come on and take the likes of younger playmakers like Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes under his wing. 

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