With the New York Rangers in the midst of a rebuild, there are some veteran free agents out there that can help lead the way for their young players.
The New York Rangers rebuild last season consisted of a plethora of young talent. But for this rebuild to be done properly, the team needs to employ quality veteran talent to help lead the way.
You cannot stress the importance of what veteran leadership means to a team. When the dark times get really dark, they are usually the ones that help lead the young inexperienced talent out of the mud.
If you look at some of the teams that have won in the past, there usually is a good mix of young talent and veteran leadership. The Rangers teams in the past are perfect examples of that. They had the likes of Martin St. Louis with the young Chris Kreider, or the veteran Dan Girardi with the young Ryan McDonagh.
The Rangers have tried to make that happen again, but the mix just hasn’t been there. This offseason, there are plenty of quality veteran free agents out there that can help lead the crop of this current Ranger young talent.
Michael Grabner is certainly not a stranger to the Rangers. The team signed him two offseasons ago and really produced some of the best numbers of his career. He scored 71 points, 52 goals and 19 assists during his time on Broadway.
Going with Grabner means the Rangers are going with a player they know what they are going to get. He’s one of the quickest players on the ice and is one of the best penalty killers the game has to offer. On top of that, it seems like every game he has a breakaway or quality scoring opportunity.
Grabner is a player that can slot in perfectly for this team. He practically does everything right. That’s something that you want your young players to be around. Something that a team in the midst of rebuild could use.
Trading Grabner was not an easy call for the Blueshirts. But if they can manage to bring him back, he can be the veteran player the Rangers need to move this rebuild forward.
James Neal might be a bit of stretch for the Rangers at this point in the rebuild, but it’s not something that shouldn’t be considered.
Neal is an eight-year veteran with a ton of success under his belt. He’s scored 20 or more goals in every season of his career, including a 40 goal year in 2011-12 with Pittsburgh. With the Rangers lack of scoring ability on the current roster, Neal would fit right in on this Rangers roster.
Where it gets difficult with Neal is that his current team, the Vegas Golden Knights, will probably have a say in where he ends up. Yes, Neal is an unrestricted free agent, but Vegas will want to retain him after their storybook season. Should they beat the Washington Capitals it would be pretty hard to leave Vegas.
Neal would cost some money, money that is there. He also would be a signing that would be beneficial later on in his potential deal.
The last time Paul Stastny was a free agent, the Rangers fell short in trying to sign him. He would wind up signing with the St. Louis Blues and spend four years there. He was traded to the Winnipeg Jets at the trade deadline and help put them over the top.
With the Rangers young crop of centers, Stastny will serve as a great mentor. The likes of Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil can learn plenty from Stastny, a veteran center who still has plenty of game left in him.
At a different stage in his career, Stastny still has the ability to a serviceable player in the NHL. He’s not the same player who scored 50 or more points in six of his first eight seasons. He can serve as a solid third line center behind Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes.
It won’t take a longterm deal to get Stastny, with him at 32-years-old, a simple two or three-year deal to get him into the fold. He’s definitely an option that should be considered for general manager Jeff Gorton.
There are other free agents out there like John Tavares, Rick Nash, and Joe Thornton. But those type of players aren’t the type of players the Rangers need to go after. They are game changers, and the Rangers are in no position to be going after a game changer right now.