Look there is no questioning that Artemi Panarin is a great NHL player. And if the New York Rangers were a Stanley Cup contender then, by all means, they should sign him but they are not. And because the Rangers are not a title contender then they should pass on Panarin and use their money to shore up other problem areas.
Please, Rangers just say no and allow the rebuild to stay on course. Every time the Rangers say they are rebuilding after a year or so they try to accelerate the rebuild only to screw things up and find themselves even further away from Cup contention.
Just say no because if Panarin is looking for the best contract instead of the best chance of winning. This isn’t a Mark Messier we are talking about here; a talented player yes but not someone who will lead his team to the Stanley Cup. The Rangers badly need leadership and nothing about Panarin says he is a leader.
Just say no because once you start trying to spend then the rebuilding is over and then the franchise starts looking for players who fit in with Panarin. And how would the Rangers get such players? By trading away those very talented young draftees that fans were going crazy for.
Just say no if Panarin’s contract is going to have an AAV of over 10 million a season as the salary cap isn’t going to increase as much as it used to. At the time this was being written (12 AM PDT July 1), the Rangers had (according to Capfriendly.com) roughly 18.14 million in projected cap space.
This amount does not include what it will take to sign restricted free agents Jacob Trouba, Pavel Buchnevich, Brendan Lemieux, and Tony DeAngelo and covers only 19 roster players out of 23. Signing Panarin will force the Rangers to either salary dump or buy out other players creating holes in the lineup.
Buyout Kevin Shattenkirk and exile Brendan Smith to Hartford but you had best pray that the replacements are NHL ready. Send Chris Kreider packing and ask who will be your team leader? It is very easy to sit behind a PC like I am doing and play GM but ask any Mets fan how their off-season moves have worked out for them.
Please JD just say no as it is not how much you spend but how well you spend.
Who Do I Sign?
It starts with what are the Rangers biggest needs? I believe they still need to improve the defense mainly a partner for Jacob Trouba. Current options are Marc Staal, Brady Skjei or Ryan Lindgren/Libor Hajek. To make matters worse this is a very poor year for UFA defensemen.
Pray that someone steps up on defense (listening Yegor Rykov?)
Up front, leadership, and toughness are the biggest areas of concern. If the Rangers move Chris Kreider or any other forward then whatever scoring they provided will have to be replaced. Again it is going to cost money the Rangers really don’t have to spend so I go low rent.
Look if Lias Andersson is your fourth line center then he is a failure as a prospect sorry. So I like several others have suggested want the Rangers to bring back Brian Boyle on a one-two year deal. Boyle will address several key areas at a bargain price.
Locker room leader, check. checking line center with size, check, face-off skills, check and number one penalty killer, check. At most Boyle will cost you 3.5 million a season may be less if he wants to finish his career as a Ranger with a post-career job when he retires.
I like Boyle because I believe he is at the point in his career when he will be a very good mentor for some of the younger players/prospects. If you trade Kreider odds are that you can expect Jimmy Vesey to be moved as well. That will open up some cap space and as much as I like Anders Lee, I have a better idea.
The Red Wings used to use Brett Hull on their third line as a mentor to their rookies and it helped guys like Henrik Zetterberg, Kris Draper and more adjust to the NHL. It also helped Hull remain a factor in the Red Wings lineup.
Why not sign Valtteri Filppula to give Kaapo Kakko a mentor? Yes, he is 35 but he still has a game and he would be someone that Kakko can work with as he adjusts to NHL life. Filppula is also someone who can fill in at any spot in the lineup in a pinch. Again a player who can be cost-effective.
Finally, the Rangers will need a veteran goalie for Hartford as they aren’t going to keep Adam Huska in Hartford. If something happens to either Henrik or whichever goalie is the backup then the Rangers will need someone who can be called up in an emergency.