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5 Burning Off-Season Questions For the New York Rangers

by Photo of Gil Santos

Justin Rutherford of Blue Seat Blog discusses the draft, the Rangers’ key free agents, and more.

5 Burning Off-Season Questions For the New York Rangers

In this article…

While the New York Rangers couldn't bring home the Stanley Cup this year, you could not ask for a better season from this team. But now heading into the off-season, can the Rangers improve themselves to set up another Cup run next year? They will have a nice amount of cap space to work with, but with key free agents such Mats Zuccarello and Anton Stralman heading into the open market, that money could go quickly. In addition, they'll need to find a replacement for recently bought out center Brad Richards. 

To delve into what the Rangers' off-season could look like, we spoke to an old friend in Justin Rutherford of Blue Seat Blogs

1. Let’s get this out of the way first. What went wrong for the Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final?

I’ll qualify this first answer by saying that the Kings were the better team and very much deserved to win this series. That said, blowing all those two goal leads in the first two games in Los Angeles really killed them. Had they been able to win at least one (or ideally, both) of those games, the series would have taken an entirely different tenor. They blew those leads, and it cost them.

2. What improvement would you like to see Glen Sather make to get the Rangers back to the Cup Final? What players in free agency or via trade would like to see Sather target?

It’s very difficult to ask major changes of a Stanley Cup Finalist, but there are definitely improvements to be made. Replacing the newly bought-out Brad Richards will be the first order of business. Paul Stastny is obviously the best player available on the free agent market, but he’s going to have a significant cost, both in dollars and years. I think Mikhail Grabovski is a more cost-effect candidate in that he is good in the circle and drives puck possession in a meaningful way. They could also use an offensive minded defenseman. Dan Boyle could be a fit, but I think he will get his two-year deal at relatively high dollars.

3. The Rangers have a good amount of key unrestricted and restricted free agents the team would like to bring back. Who do you think stays on the team and who is in a different uniform next season?

Priority one for the Rangers will be (and should be) getting their own free agents under contract. I think the organization would like to bring back all of the pending free agents, but I think Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman and Benoit Pouliot would be the most likely to depart. I think Zuccarello, Brassard and Dominic Moore would be the most likely to stay on.

4. The Rangers don’t have a first round pick in the draft this year due to the Martin St. Louis trade, but they do have one late in the second round. Who would like to see Rangers target with the 59th pick?

When you get that deep into the draft, it’s very difficult to handicap individual picks. Over at Blueseatblogs.com, Dave Shapiro has put together a couple nice previews for potentials guys with that pick. The Rangers have had some nice later round selections (Anthony Duclair, Calle Anderson, Jesper Fast) in the past few years, so I’ll be interested to see what Gordie Clark and Co. can dig up with that pick.

Editor's Note: The Rangers selected G Brandon Halverson with the second round pick.

5. Finally, if you were the general manger, what would be your ideal off-season?

My ideal offseason would be getting our core free agents under contract, obtaining a top-6 center and a top-4 offensive defenseman. With some cap difficulties and no first round picks, a blockbuster trade doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Considering the thin free agent market, I’d rather see them make depth upgrades than overpay. And no, I would not be looking to deal Rick Nash.

Justin Rutherford writes for the New York Rangers' blog Blue Seat Blogs and also is the co-founder of a goalie development company called MAC Goaltending. You can follow him on Twitter @tappingtheposts.

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