Could the Rangers target the 2023 Conn Smythe winner in free agency?

Jonathan Marchessault, Rangers
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have less than two weeks until free agency opens on July 1st. There are still multiple in-house moves that Chris Drury needs to make, such as extending defensemen Ryan Lindgren and Braden Schneider, but his biggest task this offseason will be targeting an elite winger to play on the Blueshirts’ first line.

With free agency rapidly approaching, there have been numerous rumors about who the Rangers could sign to join Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. There are multiple options on the table, making this decision perhaps the biggest in Drury’s career as general manager.

Jonathan Marchessault is set to hit the market on July 1st

Jan 18, 2024; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights right wing Jonathan Marchessault (81) skates against the New York Rangers during the second period at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Marchessault, a veteran winger for the Vegas Golden Knights, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer when the market opens. The 33-year-old earned the Conn Smythe Trophy during Vegas’ Stanley Cup-winning playoff run in 2023, making him one of the most valuable players looking for a new contract this summer.

Marchessault’s career has taken off since he joined the Golden Knights in their inaugural season back in 2017. He produced at nearly a point per game in his first year and has continued to excel as one of their best forwards ever since. Marchessault is known for his great hands and puck skills, and given his Cup-winning experience, he could be a solid match for the Rangers.

“Don’t be surprised if the Blueshirts show interest in the 2023 Conn Smythe winner.”

via Vince Mercogliano of Lohud

The only possible issue about signing Marchessault would be his size. He stands at 5’9, 185 pounds, making him one of the smaller forwards in the league. The Rangers are likely looking for a bigger, more physical forward for their first line, but Marchessault’s raw skill might be enough for Drury to overlook that.

Will the Rangers be able to afford Marchessault?

Jan 26, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Vegas Golden Knights right wing Jonathan Marchessault (81) chases the puck in the third period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Marchessault is coming off a six-year contract with an average annual value of $5 million. He finished the 2023-24 season with his highest point total since 2017-18, proving that he can still produce at an elite level at 33 years old. If the former playoff MVP isn’t able to remain in Vegas, he will likely be looking for a multi-year contract to wrap up his successful career elsewhere.

Because of his popularity around the league, numerous teams will likely be interested in signing Marchessault this summer. This interest will likely start a bidding war over the veteran, but the Rangers may still be able to acquire him if Marchessault chooses to sign with a contender. A three or four-year deal worth around $5-6 million could be possible, which would also give Drury enough wiggle room to complete the rest of his offseason tasks.

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