To say this offseason has been eventful is an understatement. With a list of things in hand, Jeff Gorton and the Rangers have checked off plenty of items on their “to do list”.
From buyouts to trades to draft picks to free agent signings, the New York Rangers have accomplished almost everything they wanted to. Yesterday they checked off a big item on their list as they signed C Mika Zibanejad to a five-year contract. With that signing, the Rangers now have all their players under contract and can now attempt to check off the final thing on their offseason to-do list.
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The Rangers are still in need of another center. Now that they know how much money they have available within the salary cap, they can try to figure out the best path to take. The simplest plan of attack would be to move someone within the organization to the center position. Cristoval Nieves of the Rangers AHL affiliate could possibly earn a spot on the team. J.T. Miller could be moved to center, though Alain Vigneault has stated he would not move Miller to start the season. Perhaps this year’s first round pick, Lias Andersson, will have a strong enough training camp to make the squad and center the fourth line.
The center position is quite important in gaining puck possession, an area the Rangers struggled with throughout most of last season. If they don’t feel they have the right personnel to improve the team from within, they will have to go another way to accomplish their goal.
Conducting a trade could be an alternative move instead of promoting a player from within the organization. Currently, the Rangers have around $3 million available in their salary cap. GM Jeff Gorton could consider moving a defenseman, most likely Nick Holden, to make a deal. Moving Holden would free up another $1.65 million, which could absolutely help bring an offensive center to the team. The Rangers have some depth on the blue line, so now would be a good time to pursue a deal.
The rumors of a trade with Tyler Bozak, 31 years old with 18 goals, 37 assists with 55 points in 78 games played last season, of Toronto, has been mentioned recently, but there is nothing to substantiate a deal is being made with them at this time. A trade with any team could give the team an experienced NHL player that could have an immediate impact on the team.
Regardless of which direction the team decides to take, they have appeared to make all the right moves up to this point to be a contender to go deep into the playoffs. Of course, this is how it appears on paper. Once they take to the ice it’s a whole different hockey game. The players have no excuses now, the time to show what they can do on the ice begins in about two months.