The Runner Sports

Rangers Re-Sign Brendan Smith; Many More Moves To Follow

Under 24 hours to free agency! There are a lot of rumors swirling around the New York Rangers. At the moment, they are linked to several of the top available players. Though this class is not one of the better ones, there are still players who can fill in the Rangers’ many holes. Will they splurge for a veteran like Kevin Shattenkirk or trust the process and let the young kids play? They have plenty of cap space to go around after dealing Derek Stepan and Kevin Klein retiring, but plenty of holes are left to be filled.

Brendan Smith

The Rangers took the first step of signings with defenseman Brendan Smith. Smith signed a 4-year, $17.4 million contract with an average annual value of $4.35 million. The 28-year-old left-hander joined the Rangers at the trade deadline, and fit in nicely. The AAV is probably a little higher than market value but certainly an important piece worth keeping.

Smith, in 51 regular-season games with the Detroit Red Wings and Rangers, had nine points (three goals, six assists) and four assists in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He brought a much-needed edge to the Blueshirts’ blue- line and showed he can join the rush and put the puck in the net. Smith meshed well with rookie star Brady Skjei. His ability as a lefty to play on the right side was huge for the Rangers. In Smith and Skjei, the Rangers should have a solid pairing for the next several years.

Kevin Shattenkirk:

All the talk is about the Rangers landing him, but at what price? They desperately need to find a right sided defensive pair for Ryan McDonagh, and Shattenkirk can be that piece. However, it makes no sense for them to throw the kitchen sink at him given how many young defensemen they have in the system. They just acquired Anthony DeAngelo from Arizona and have many more youths hoping to impress over the summer including Sean Day, Neal Pionk, and Alexei Bereglazov. The Rangers are now paying a heavy price for overpaying elderly players and should learn from their mistakes. They are actively trying to get younger and this would be a regression for them. Shattenkirk told the Rangers he would not be taking a hometown discount. Additionally, it seems the New Jersey Devils might be all in on signing him.

Centers:

With Stepan and Oscar Lindberg gone, the Rangers must find at least one center to plug-in. Ideally, they would sign a two-way second line center to directly replace Stepan.

May that be Nick Bonino? He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is 28 years old and does not put up big numbers –37 points in 80 games. However, he was playing behind a lot of star players so there was no pressure on him to do so. He was part of that “HBK” line that was extremely impressive and crucial to the Penguins’ championship in 2016 with Phil Kessell and Carl Hagelin. Maybe he can recreate some of that magic with Rick Nash and Jimmy Vesey?

Guys like Martin Hanzal and Sam Gagnier are also available. As is Jumbo Joe Thornton but he will likely stay in California. Hanzal is 30 but would be a nice fit given his size at 6’6 and his strong face-off percentage at almost 60%. Gagner is younger, faster and probably cheaper and could also fit nicely as a third liner.

A final option is first-round draft pick Lias Andersson. As reported by Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the kid from Sweden wants a shot to make the team this summer. However, it seems likely for Andersson to start his career in the AHL to acclimate to a different style of play and size of the rink here in America.

Goalies:

There are a bevy of veterans out there who would happily join the Rangers and backup an all time great and get more starts than in most places. Reports have the Rangers in talks with Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec, which is questionable. Pavelec is a seasoned veteran but struggled majorly last year. He played just 8 games and gave up an average of 3.55 goals per game. Despite that, the defense in front of him was just as bad. No one they sign will be the caliber of Raanta so any of these guys would be okay.

 

Many things going down starting Saturday and it could get crazy! Stay tuned!