The New York Rangers are entering the offseason with just $11.76 million dollars in cap space, according to Cap Friendly. Seven of the Rangers’ roster players have contracts expiring this offseason, rendering them restricted or unrestricted free agents.
While tight on salary cap space, general manager Chris Drury has some difficult decisions to make. Of the top impending free agents, here are our predictions as to who stays and who goes.
The Rangers went all in at the trade deadline, and one of their most significant moves was acquiring nine-time all-star Patrick Kane. In 19 regular season games, Kane scored five goals and seven assists.
The former Hart Trophy winner scored six points in seven playoff games with only one goal. Kane was likely always a rental, and barring a contract similar to what Mark Giordano signed with the Maple Leafs, Kane will be playing elsewhere next season.
The other star rental the Rangers acquired at the deadline was Vladimir Tarasenko. In 31 regular season games, the four-time all-star scored eight goals and had 13 assists.
Tarasenko had quite an impact in the playoffs, scoring three goals and an assist in the opening round. The 31-year-old can still produce and will look for a long-term contract that the Rangers likely cannot afford to pay him this offseason.
For the second season in a row, the Rangers acquired Tyler Motte at the trade deadline. The 28-year-old had a solid impact, logging five goals and five assists in 24 regular season games.
Motte is an excellent fit on the Rangers’ fourth line and penalty kill. Motte will likely remain in the Big Apple if he is willing to take a contract with an AAV under 1.75 million.
Alexis Lafrenière, the 2020 first-overall pick, has had a slow start to his NHL career but has steadily improved each season. In 2023, Lafrenière played 81 games, scoring 16 goals and having a career-high in both assists (23) and points (39).
Lafrenière is a restricted free agent, and with his limited NHL production thus far, expect a similar bridge contract to what Kappo Kakko received last offseason as the 21-year-old stays in New York.
K’Andre Miller had an impressive 2023 stat line, playing 79 games while scoring nine goals and having 34 assists. However, his defensive woes, particularly in the postseason, will likely cost the 23-year-old some money.
Miller is also a restricted free agent, but, unlike Lafrenière, Miller has shown enough in the NHL to earn a long-term contract between three and four million per year. Such a deal would keep Miller one of the Rangers’ top-four defensemen for the foreseeable future.
Niko Mikkola felt almost like a throw-in with Tarasenko but turned into a solid bottom-pair defenseman. As the Rangers endured absences from Miller and Ryan Lindgren toward the end of the regular season, Mikkola proved to be an excellent depth defenseman. New York should bring Mikkola back at the right price this offseason.
Jaroslav Halák had an excellent first season backing up Igor Shesterkin, playing in 25 games with a 2.72 goals against average and a .903 save percentage. If the 38-year-old does not retire in the offseason, expect him to return on a one-year veteran minimum contract.