The New York Rangers have a lot to look at when it comes to retooling this specific team. The process of how to do so most efficiently comes back to the same question. What would help New York more, a great draft or a clean free agency haul?
It’s been a long, hard road for the New York Rangers of late. A disappointing season which included a barrage of trades late in the year, not qualifying for the postseason and a fired head coach left the organization with plenty of unanswered questions.
There is no roadmap to fix the Rangers. Actually, it is more like you GPS constantly recalculating as it attempts to find out the best way to get you to where you want to go. In this case, the Rangers don’t even have that answer to help direct them to where they need to be.
The organizational rebuild is at a standstill with the team making only a few statements since the regular season has ended. The team’s problems are wrapped within one another as the Rangers appear content to enter the NHL Entry Draft in June without a coach in place, but a coach needs to be announced prior to July 1 when free agency begins if they intend to pick up some more help.
ESNY takes a look at the three major areas the team needs to address
The organization needs to address three critical situations in order to get the rebuild fully off the ground.
NHL Entry Draft
The New York Rangers have 10 picks in this year’s draft. Three of them are first-round picks, though two of those will happen in the latter part of the first round. This year’s draft dramatically drops off in skill around the eighth or ninth pick depending on what reports are looked at.
The Rangers could think about trading up to get to the fourth or fifth pick, maybe using their late first round selections as an incentive, or they could just take three first round picks and use those players in potential trades during the summer.
Plenty of strategies to work out, but a head coach wouldn’t have much say in this situation.
This year’s free agent list has some promising prospects, but not an overwhelming amount of must-have players.
The Hockey News broke down the top 30 free agents. The number one free agent available and the man who should get plenty of offers should he not resign with his current team is New York Islanders center, John Tavares. The 27-year old captain is entering free agency in what many considered to be his best opportunity to get a huge multi-year contract deal.
Many teams won’t be able to match what he could be asking, at least a $10.5 million per season contract over five or six years.
The next nine available players listed with position and age, per the Hockey News are:
- James Van Riemsdyk, LW, 29-years-old
- John Carson, D, 28-years-old
- Paul Stastny, C, 32-years-old
- Mike Greene, D, 32-years old
- Evander Kane, LW, 26-years-old
- Ilya Kovalchuk, RW, 35-years-old
- James Neal, RW, 30-years-old
- Joe Thorton, C, 38-years-old
- David Perron, LW, 30-years-old
- Rick Nash, LW, 34-years -old
The Rangers shouldn’t put all their eggs in the free agent basket as there aren’t that many good eggs this year. Free agency should be a way to add one (Ilya Kovalchuk) or two players to the mix, but it will not be the best way to rebuild the team.
The Rangers have seen several teams hire head coaches of the past few weeks. The Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames are two such teams that have solidified their bench and the Blueshirts appear to be waiting patiently.
Patiently for who?
Shelden Keefe’s name has come up quite often, but his AHL Toronto Marlies are still competing in the playoffs. Former Pittsburgh Penguin coach Dan Bylsma had recently said he is not in contention for the position. This waiting game needs to conclude prior to free agency otherwise the Rangers will have trouble attracting players to a team with no leader. A tough spot for the player and team to be in.
The consensus all around seems to be the same. A head coach is not needed for the draft to be conducted. The concern is that less than two weeks following the draft, the free agency period will kick off and if the Rangers have any intentions of offering say a John Tavares a contract offer or anyone eels for that matter, they need to know who will be standing behind the Rangers bench first.
The draft, hire a coach and free agency are hard to enough to conquer on their own. Together, it seems almost insurmountable to achieve. Yet the upcoming season and beyond relies on these situations all falling in the Rangers favor.
If last season is any indication of how things will go in the upcoming weeks, the organization better be ready for a long hard battle.