Since the NHL free agency period commenced on Jul. 1, the roster of the Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers has dramatically changed. Gone are Brad Richards, Derek Dorsett, Anton Stralman, Benoit Pouliot and Brian Boyle.
Entering the fray are Dan Boyle, Tanner Glass, Mike Kostka and several other depth players. As a result, the Rangers currently have gaping holes in their lineup, especially at center and on their bottom-two lines. Also, the question of secondary scoring that has plagued the team for a long time becomes an even bigger question mark.
Furthermore, General Manager Glen Sather still has the task of locking up key restricted free agents in Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard and John Moore.
The team still has the cap space necessary to plug up the holes on the roster despite a very thin remaining free agent class. The options available are certainly capable of bolstering two major areas of need: secondary scoring and size.
In terms of secondary scoring, two players capable of putting up big goal numbers but have struggled to do so in recent years are David Booth and Devin Setoguchi. Both may either command an enormous cap hit, or be a bargain for a team looking to add snipers on a short-term deal. At the right price, Booth and Setoguchi will fit nicely onto the Rangers’ second or third line.
In terms of size, Steve Ott would perfectly replace the departed Brian Boyle and provide veteran leadership. Another veteran that can provide leadership on the fourth line would be Brenden Morrow, who may only command a cap hit between $1.5 million and $2 million.
A guy the Rangers should really take a look at is Dany Heatley. Yes, he is no longer elite and may be a fourth-liner at best in this juncture of his career. However, rumors have circulated that he may accept a one year, $1.5 million deal. If this is true, it behooves the Rangers to take a flier on him to see if he has anything left in the tank.
Will these players make the Rangers better? They most certainly can, but it is up to Sather to make it happen. The 2014-15 Rangers may look radically different from the previous seasons’ Cup finalists, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t be Cup contenders.