The New York Rangers made a handful of offseason moves this summer, attempting to bolster their roster following a devastating loss to the New Jersey Devils in round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. While none of them were the flashiest of moves, each was made to serve a specific purpose and benefit the Rangers. Amidst the many moves the Blueshirts made this year, some stand out better than others.
The Rangers re-signed defenseman K’Andre Miller
After his entry-level contract expired last season, the Rangers chose to re-sign K’Andre Miller to a two-year deal worth $3.872 million AAV. Despite being a formidable player defensively, Miller also has the ability to contribute to the Rangers on the offensive end. In the 2022-2023 season, Miller scored 43 points in 79 games; an impressive total for a defenseman.
Miller is certainly one of the most underrated players on the Rangers, and he should be earning a massive paycheck when this bridge deal expires in two years. Fans knew it would be difficult to make this signing happen given the current cap situation the Rangers are facing, but GM Chris Drury was able to pull it off.
In the midst of a breakout, the Rangers are lucky to have Miller at such a low price point for the next two years. It would have been nicer to lock him up long-term for the same price, especially knowing that Alexis Lafreniere has still yet to re-sign, but it’s still a solid signing that will certainly benefit the team.
Signing Grade: A
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Blake Wheeler to fill a top-six role for the Rangers
After Vladimir Tarasenko signed with the Ottawa Senators, the Rangers chose to fill that void with veteran Blake Wheeler. Last season, Wheeler scored 55 points in 72 games, a pretty impressive stat despite his age. At 36 years old, his point totals have begun to diminish at the back end of his career, but Wheeler can still produce decent numbers.
The biggest plus from this signing is the cost. The Rangers were able to complete a one-year, $800,000 AAV deal with Wheeler, creating almost zero risk with this signing. Playing alongside Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck should help the aging winger keep his numbers up, so the Rangers should expect a solid showing out of Wheeler. Only time will tell how big of an impact his age will be.
Signing Grade: A-
Jonathan Quick will serve as backup to Igor Shesterkin
After Rangers’ backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak decided to test the free agency market, the Blueshirts chose to bring in veteran Jonathan Quick as his replacement. Having won two Stanley Cup Championships in the past, Quick should be able to act as a mentor to Igor Shesterkin, who is already a top-three goalie in the NHL.
The problem with Quick is his age. At 37 years old, his stats have regressed over the course of his career. In order for the Rangers to succeed, they’ll need to be comfortable letting Shesterkin rest as many games as possible. Quick is not a bad goalie by any means, but there are definitely some holes in his game that could cause some issues with the Blueshirts. Despite this, in terms of a backup replacement, Quick was probably the best player on the market.
“Quick turns 38 in January and he must reverse a fairly steady decline over the last five seasons to be a productive part of a Rangers team that has a new coach, a bunch of high-end players, and now a host of veteran additions to boost what the organization feels is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.”via The Athletic
Signing Grade: B
Peter Laviolette named the new Rangers head coach
After Gerard Gallant was fired at the conclusion of last season, Chris Drury went on a week-long manhunt to find the perfect coach for the job. He eventually chose Peter Laviolette, who should be a welcoming change to the Rangers’ bench.
Gallant was too loose with his game plans, allowing players to skate around the ice with no guidance or direction. Laviolette appears to be the opposite type of coach, having set plays and styles to help players be as productive and efficient as possible while on the ice. It will be interesting to see how well the Rangers’ team adapts to this new coaching style, but all signs point to this hiring being the best move made by the Blueshirts this offseason.
Hiring Grade: A+