With free agency officially here, the New York Rangers should turn their attention to under-the-radar players.
Free agency is always a difficult time for teams who feel they are on the cusp of contending in the not so distant future. It’s a time for teams like the New York Rangers to sit back and truly assess their needs while determining the best way to go about fixing them.
This free agent class has a great mix of talent from superstar talent to depth players who can provide a short-term fix as young players develop.
All the attention leading up to the summer of 2019 has been around Artemi Panarin, but he might not be the answer at the price he wants. So instead of the home run, here are three players the Blueshirts should express an interest in this summer.
Jason Spezza might not be the same player he was with Ottawa, but at the right price, he could be the perfect fit for this young group of Ranger centers.
Spezza brings something to the table the Rangers have struggled with over the last few years—success in the faceoff circle. For his career, Spezza’s won 53.1% of the draws he’s taken including a 58.24% success rate at the dot a season ago. New York was the second-worst team in the NHL in the faceoff circle with a 46.9% success rate, only 1.2% higher than the worst faceoff team in the league, the Washington Capitals.
Part of the Rangers struggles in the dot last year were a result of the youth in the faceoff circle, at least in part. The best way to improve in an area like this comes with consistent practice against some of the best, like Spezza.
His experience, veteran leadership, and lack of depth down the middle also serve as reasons the Rangers could show interest in the 36-year-old.
Adam McQuaid and the Rangers just seemed to mesh extremely during the 36 games he played with the Rangers a season ago. His style of play along with the style head coach David Quinn preaches is just a perfect match.
Now the Rangers find themselves with a log jam on the blueline, but should New York cut ties with one of Kevin Shattenkirk or Brendan Smith, there could be a spot for McQuaid as an extra defenseman.
You can’t say enough about how much of an influence McQuaid had as a mentor for the young Ranger defenseman like Brady Skjei, who would play his best hockey of 2018-19 paired with the veteran McQuaid.
The Rangers don’t want to go more than a year, maybe two, with any potential player they sign in free agency, making McQuaid a perfect candidate considering his age. Both parties know each other, and if New York wasn’t rebuilding a year ago who knows, maybe he would have finished the year with the team?
While the Rangers have not been directly linked to Ryan Dzingel in the weeks leading up to free agency, but if the opportunity presents itself, New York should jump in quickly—under one condition. The condition is simple, if they feel they are ready to compete for a playoff spot then they should be all in. If they don’t think they are in it right now, then they simply should stay away.
His age and price tag is what makes Dzingel so attractive to a team like the Rangers. He won’t command Panarin-like money which could allow New York to focus on extending Chris Kreider. It also allows them to go after another free agent and come out of free agency with two solid players that were not on their roster a year ago.
Dzingel brings in a consistent offense producer, who’s scored 20 or more goals in two of his first four seasons in the NHL. His versatility also makes him an attractive piece, and he still has room to grow as a player due to his limited time in the NHL making him fit perfectly into what the Rangers are building moving forward.