The New York Rangers are off to a good start this season, winning 11 of their first 18 games. However, Sammy Blais’ season-ending knee injury and Vitali Kravtsov’s departure to Russia leaves them in the market for what TSN’s Darren Dreger called a “middle-six forward”.
Cap Friendly shows the Rangers with sufficient projected cap space ($7.39 million) this season to acquire a forward. With $70.8 million already invested in 16 players for 2022-23, The Athletic’s Arthur Staple believes they won’t seek someone with term on their contract.
Staple speculated they could acquire a pending unrestricted free agent winger as a playoff rental. His suggested options included the Arizona Coyotes’ Phil Kessel, Carolina Hurricanes’ Nino Niederreiter, Ottawa Senators’ Sean Tierney and the Seattle Kraken’s Calle Jarnkrok or Marcus Johansson. He also included restricted free agents like the Chicago Blackhawks’ Dylan Strome, Los Angeles Kings Gabriel Vilardi and Montreal Canadiens Artturi Lehkonen.
It’s unlikely the high-flying Hurricanes will part with Niederreiter. Struggling clubs like the Senators, Kraken and Canadiens could wait until later in the season to become sellers to maximize the potential returns on the players they’re shopping.
The Coyotes are trying to move Kessel. While he’s earning just $1 million in actual salary, his $6.8-million cap hit will be tough to move unless the Coyotes retain part of it. Strome is a fixture in the rumor mill but the Blackhawks haven’t found any suitors.
Staple’s colleague, Lisa Dillman, believes Vilardi could benefit from a change of scenery. The Rangers, however, could seek a more established forward. Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy wondered if Bruins’ winger Jake DeBrusk might pique their interest. He’s frequently surfaced in trade rumors but hasn’t drawn much interest.