Latest Rangers Speculation – March 19, 2018
Could the New York Rangers pursue Erik Karlsson or Ilya Kovalchuk this summer? Read on for the latest in your NHL rumor mill.
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis noted there’s been some speculation over the possibility of the New York Rangers pursuing Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson this summer via trade, perhaps by the 2018 NHL Draft (June 22-23) in Dallas. However, he dismissed that notion, suggesting a hefty contract extension for Karlsson wouldn’t fit into the Rangers’ rebuilding plan. Cyrgalis doesn’t see much upside in trading prime assets to acquire the Senators’ superstar blueliner and expressed concern over Karlsson’s “limited explosiveness” this season, the result of a late start to the season owing to recovery from offseason heel surgery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers are committed to a rebuild. While they might consider adding one or two short-term veteran options, I don’t believe they’ll seriously consider pursuing a trade this summer for Karlsson. The cost in assets and in retaining him beyond next season isn’t worth it.
Cyrgalis’ colleague Larry Brooks believes the Rangers should pursue former NHL winger Ilya Kovalchuk when he become eligible for unrestricted free agent status on July 1. Brooks feels their young players would benefit from a veteran leader such as Kovalchuk, citing Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur recently calling the Russian sniper ” one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.” Brodeur believes the Russian star be a good addition to whatever NHL club signs him this summer. Brooks acknowledged Kovalchuk could seek more than a one- or two-year contract, but noted the Rangers “refreshed feeder system” is lacking goal scorers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks also said the St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers could also pursue Kovalchuk this summer. Still, there’s been suggestions he might prefer playing in New York. If so, the Rangers would be the front-runners for his services. Even on a three-year contract, if his cap hit isn’t extravagant they could be willing to bring him aboard to provide experience and perhaps mentor some of their promising young players.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Rick Carpiniello was asked about the chances of the Rangers signing New York Islanders center John Tavares this summer. While agreeing Tavares would accelerate the Blueshirts’ rebuilding efforts, he’s doubtful the Isles captain would leave one rebuilding club to join another.
Carpiniello doubted the Rangers can re-sign all of their restricted free agents. He suggested one or more could be shopped at or before the draft. He also thinks they could shop veteran winger Mats Zuccarello if they can get a good return for him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larry Brooks also doesn’t see Tavares going from one rebuilding club to another. While anything’s possible, I’ll be surprised if the long-time Islander joins his current club’s most hated rival. Cap Friendly lists forwards Ryan Spooner, Kevin Hayes, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jimmy Vesey, as well as defensemen Brady Skjei, Rob O’Gara and John Gilmour as the Rangers’ RFAs this summer.
Despite missing several games to injury this season, Hayes reached 20 goals for the first time in his career. Considering how difficult it is for find quality center, the Rangers could retain him.
Spooner and Namestnikov were acquired before the recent NHL trade deadline. Spooner’s been on fire since coming over from the Boston Bruins, netting 13 points in 10 games. Namestnikov, however, has only three points in nine games, which is a significant drop from the 44 points in 62 games he had with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Vesey, meanwhile, hasn’t shown much improvement in his sophomore season. Perhaps he could be the one on the trade block. As for their blueliners, I don’t see Skjei going anywhere while it won’t be expensive to re-sign O’Gara or Gilmour