The Rangers seemingly have more questions than answers leading up to the start of free agency on Wednesday at noon.
With Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp seemingly headed to the market, as well as others acquired at the trade deadline who will leave holes up front, and backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev signing with the 2022 Stanley Cup champions after his rights were traded to the Avalanche, the Rangers still have several areas in the lineup to address. And more questions keep coming.
Goalie Keith Kinkaid is expected to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent after two seasons with the Rangers. Kinkaid, who has 167 games of NHL experience with the Devils, Canadiens and Rangers, spent a majority of last season in AHL Hartford. He was viewed as the Rangers’ third-string netminder for much of his time in New York.
So that leaves star goalie Igor Shesterkin, the 2021-22 Vezina Trophy winner, as the only netminder with NHL experience in the organization. The Rangers still have their 2018 second-round pick Olof Lindbom and 2020 fourth-rounder Dylan Garand, who are both participating in development camp this week, but it’s unlikely that either would fill the club’s vacant backup spot.
The Rangers have about a million and change to spend on a No. 2 goalie.
Additionally, according to a source, the Rangers are trying to move veteran defenseman Patrik Nemeth ahead of a possible buyout. Buying out Nemeth, who is set to carry a $2.5 million cap hit for the next two seasons, would save the Rangers $1.5 million under the cap this coming season and $2.5 million in 2023-24. However, it would cost the Rangers $1 million in dead space in both 2024-25 and 2025-26.
Even though Nemeth lost his spot to Justin Braun by the playoffs, Braun is also headed toward free agency and that leaves the Rangers with another hole — this one on the back end. The Rangers may have options in-house, if they’re confident in the abilities of Zac Jones or Matthew Robertson, but it may be another area to address.
The Rangers extended qualifying offers to restricted free agents Kaapo Kakko, Libor Hajek, Tim Gettinger and Austin Rueschhoff, with Hajek signing a one-year, $800,000 extension. Jacob Elmer, Justin Richards, Ty Ronning and goalie Tyler Wall did not receive qualifying offers from the Rangers and now become unrestricted free agents.
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