Ranking the Rangers’ top 3 defensive targets in free agency

Brett Pesce, Rangers
Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers are in dire need of a change to their defensive corps. Jacob Trouba had an abysmal postseason run, making a potential trade or buyout possible. On top of that, multiple defensemen are free agents this summer, making their future with the organization a question mark as well.

With free agency opening less than a week away on July 1st, the Blueshirts should undoubtedly be eyeing a few defensemen to bring life back to their D-corps.

The Rangers could add a lockdown defenseman from the Central Division

Chris Tanev, Rangers, Stars
Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Tanev, 34, is set to be a free agent this summer. His age might not be an ideal number for the Blueshirts, but his defensive skill set might be enough to convince Chris Drury to offer up a short-term contract.

Tanev is a solid defensive defenseman, the type of player New York has been lacking in recent years. He finished the 2023-24 season with a positive rating of +22 and has earned an astounding +122 throughout his career. He may not find himself on the scoresheet often, but his raw defensive talent is a perfect fit for the Rangers.

Carolina could hand New York one of their top defensemen

Jan 2, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) and Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce (22) skate during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Pesce, 29, is a younger option on the table for the Rangers to consider. His skill set is similar to that of Tanev’s, being a larger, defensive defenseman. He may not produce an abundance of points, but would make a great partner for someone who does- possibly Adam Fox or K’Andre Miller.

What makes Pesce an ideal fit is his versatility on the ice. He can succeed in almost any in-game situation, a trait that not many players have. With Carolina likely going all in on extending Jake Guentzel, this gives the Rangers an opportunity to swoop in and steal a solid defenseman from their divisional rivals.

Florida’s Stanley Cup-winning defenseman could test the open market

May 30, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Florida Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour (62) passes against the New York Rangers during the second period in game five of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Montour, who just won the Stanley Cup with the Florida Panthers, will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. It’s unclear if Florida intends on re-signing the 30-year-old, but he would be a great fit for the Rangers if made available.

Unlike Tanev and Pesce, Montour has some decent offensive abilities as well. He tallied 33 points in 66 games throughout the regular season and added 11 points in the playoffs this year. His ability to score hasn’t taken away from his defensive game either, as he finished with a positive +/- with the Panthers. Florida will have the opportunity to lock him up before the market opens, but if they don’t, Montour should definitely be on the Rangers’ list.

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