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Potential Free Agency targets for the New York Rangers

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers celebrate a win 3-15

It’s time for the NHL free agent signing period! Often hectic and wild, with trades and signings galore, the Rangers won’t be major players, but there are some good moves that they could make. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

It’s July 1st, which means that Free Agency Frenzy is upon us in the NHL. There will probably be notable and surprising signings around the league, with teams trying to establish themselves as contenders. The Sabres and the Oilers are trying to build a lineup to contend for a playoff berth, while teams like the Canadiens will be working to re-establish themselves as a top team.

The Rangers will not be major players in free-agent signings or blockbuster trades. There isn’t a lot of cap space left to make a move, and there really aren’t any movable contracts that the Rangers would be willing to part with. The main priority will come in re-signing their RFAs.

Derek Stepan, 25, is coming off of a two year deal, $6.15 million deal, and both sides are looking to sign a long-term contract to avoid him becoming an unrestricted free agent at the age of 27. When looking at the rest of the market, Stepan could feasibly fetch $6 million, but honestly, I have a hard time thinking that he should get $6 million.

Derick Brassard is making $5 million a year, and had more points than Stepan, solidifying his role as the number one center. Sure, Brassard isn’t as good of a defensive player as Stepan, but I think the two should be making similar money.

The other RFAs that should get re-signed are JT Miller, Jesper Fast and Emerson Etem, as all three are expected to play an important bottom-six role next year. Miller was eligible for a qualifying offer worth $1.275 million against the cap, while Fast and Etem needed qualifying offers of at least $925,000.

The money will be tight, so if the Rangers go after a free agent, it will be someone affordable to fulfill a bottom-six role. There isn’t a lot of room to do much, but that doesn’t mean that the Rangers can’t afford to bolster their bottom six.

Mark Arcobello – 77 GP, 17 G, 14 A, 31 PTS, -10

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 13:  Mark Arcobello #36 of the Arizona Coyotes prepares for a game against the San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena on February 13, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

Without a qualifying offer from the Coyotes, Arcobello should be at the top of the Rangers’ free agent list. Photo courtesy of Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images.

Mark Arcobello had quite the interesting season in 2014-15. The 26 year old started out on the Edmonton Oilers, where he played for 36 games, and totaled seven goals and five assists. He then wound up being traded, playing briefly in Nashville and Pittsburgh before settling in Arizona for the final 27 games. Arizona decided not to extend a qualifying offer, making him a free agent.

Despite dealing with what must have been a very difficult season – moving cities, finding new places to live, new teammates – he managed to put together a career best season, with highs in all three offensive categories. That’s nothing short of impressive. 17 goals is nothing to laugh at, and he backs that up with solid Corsi and possession numbers.

Matt Belesky is coming off of a career best season where he posted 32 points, and will look for a significant raise from his $1.4 million salary. Arcobello is in a really similar situation, but he should wind up being much, much cheaper.

There’s certainly a risk here. Arcobello is an untested, unproven player, but that is the chance that a team needs to take in order to reel in a quality player and reap the rewards of a cheap contract. If a team can snag him for around $1 million, maybe even cheaper, then he could wind up being one of the biggest steals of the summer.

If I’m Glen Sather, I am putting Mark Arcobello at the top of my list of free agents. He can score goals, drive possession, and strengthen the bottom six at a very affordable price. What he did last year while constantly dealing with new teams and linemates was impressive. He could be even more effective if he stays with one team and builds chemistry on a line. He should be the Rangers number one target.

Brad Boyes – 78 GP, 14 G, 24 A, 38 PTS, +11

brad boyes

Brad Boyes had the last remaining year on his contract bought out by the Florida Panthers, making the veteran winger available to sign with any team. A former 40 goal scorer, Boyes could be a huge boost to the Rangers bottom six. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Brad Boyes, a 33 year old veteran, was yet another player that was placed on waivers and bought out by his former team, the Florida Panthers. Boyes made the team in 2013 on a tryout basis, and wound up leading the team with 21 goals. He was signed to a two year extension, but was bought out after just one, clearing some cap space as the Panthers are likely to make a run at some players in free agency, or through a trade.

Boyes’ numbers are pretty good, and he could serve as a great depth player for the Rangers, playing on the third line and getting bumped up as needed. His 38 points would have been eighth on the Rangers, and better than many of the bottom six forwards from last season. He’s a good passer, and has a history of scoring goals. Boyes is a former 43 and 33 goal scorer from his time with the St. Louis Blues in the 2007-08 season and the 2008-9 season.

When looking at his Corsi and possession numbers, they’re on par with second line talent around the league. Like Arcobello, Boyes is really more of an unknown, unnoticed player that can be really good for a team that’s willing to give him a shot.

Boyes is definitely a player I would look at if I was Sather. I watched a lot of Panthers games this past season, and Boyes was a big part of their offense. He’s a pretty good passer with a good shot to boot, and can definitely score. He’s fantastic in shootouts, which means he’s pretty good on breakaways too, and he’s a solid two-way player. His possession numbers and Corsi for and against are that of a second line player, and for cheap, he could be a great bottom six forward for the Rangers.

PA Parenteau – 56 GP, 8 G, 14 A, 22 PTS, +/- 0

pa parenteau

Photo courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images.

The first potential option is PA Parenteau, a former New York Ranger who hit the free agent market unexpectedly. The Canadiens placed him on waivers and bought out the final year of his contract, making him eligible to sign with any team today.

Parenteau was acquired in a trade from the Colorado Avalanche, but fell out of favor of Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien. He played only 56 games in the regular season, usually not in the top-six, and only got sheltered minutes.

But he’s still a capable player, and has had success in the NHL before. His 67 point season in 2011-12 is still the best of his career, and he managed to tally 33 points (14-19-33) with the Avalanche in the 2013-14 season. He’s a good two-way player as well, and could definitely help out on the third line.

As a player that was bought out, Parenteau will be getting paid by the Canadiens. Does that mean he would take a pay-cut from last year’s $4 million salary to join a contending team?

Mike Santorelli – 79 GP, 12 G, 21 A, 33 PTS, +/- 0

mike santorelli preds

Photo courtesy of Frederick Breedon/Getty Images.

Santorelli is a player that the Rangers have had their eyes for quite some time now. The Rangers tried to sign him last offseason, and there were rumors that they were interested in him at this year’s trade deadline. Santorelli is a versatile forward that can play the center position and either wing, which makes him an attractive free agent option.

Santorelli played for Alain VIgneault in Vancouver, so there would be some familiarity there. He should be good for around 30 points, and his faceoff stats and ability to play all three positions could be a plus to the Rangers’ lineup. However, he made $1.5 million last season, and the 30 year old forward could be looking for a pay raise or a longer deal. Santorelli is proabably a bit of a reach, and there are better options on the market.

Shawn Matthias – 78 GP, 18 G, 9 A, 27 PTS, -3

shawn matthias canucks

Photo courtesy of Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images.

 

Matthias had his best season as an NHL past player this season with the Canucks, finishing with a career high 27 points and 18 goals. The 27 year old forward had previously spent his whole career with the Panthers before being traded to the Canucks at the end of last season, and he’s now looking for a new contract after his career year.

Rangers fans have been clamoring for size in the lineup, and Matthias would provide exactly that. At 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds, he would give the Rangers more size down the middle. A big forward that can win puck battles and score goals could be valuable in the bottom six. Just 27 and coming off his best season, Matthias could command a raise from his $1.75 million salary, which may be too much for the Rangers.

Eric Fehr – 75 GP, 19 G, 14 A, 33 PTS, +8

Eric Fehr

Photo courtesy of the Washington Capitals.

Eric Fehr has been a valuable depth player for the Capitals for a long time, solidifying the third line, and potentially a more important role, with around 30 points or higher every season. He’s only 29, and is coming off of a season that saw him finish with 19 goals. He’s productive, and would bolster the bottom six, but he’s a popular name, which could wind up driving his price up and making the contract better for him, and not for the team.

Mike Ribeiro – 82 GP, 15 G, 47 A, 62 PTS, +11

Mike Ribeiro

Photo courtesy of the Nashville Predators.

Mike Ribeiro was signed by the Nashville Predators in the offseason, following his contract being bought out by the then Phoenix Coyotes following some off-ice issues, most notably alcohol related. Nashville GM David Poile gave him a shot, signing Ribeiro to a one year, $1.05 million contract.

That deal paid off tremendously for the Predators. As a team lacking center depth, Ribeiro quickly established himself as the number one center, racking up assists and adding a respectable 15 goals in the process. His 62 points were second on the team to rookie sensation Filip Forsberg, and his 47 assists led the team.

Ribeiro said he would be open to an extension, but as of now, the two sides have not agreed on a deal, with Poile adamant that he wants a deal done soon. The Predators can’t afford to let him go, but if the negotiations sour, he could be on the free agent market.

This is a bit of a stretch, because Ribeiro will probably earn a nice raise from his $1.05 million salary from last season, but some teams may not want to take a risk with a player that has had off-ice issues. If that’s the case, maybe he would take a pay cut to join a serious contender, which would be the Rangers.

Ribeiro could definitely be a center on any of the top three lines, and it would give the Rangers tremendous depth and skill at that position. He’s a fantastic passer, and one of the best possession players in the entire league. When he was on the ice, the Predators had 57.07% of the shot attempts and scoring chances, which is the fifth highest total in the NHL. Ribeiro’s ability to facilitate offense is tremendous, and could be even better alongside guys like Rick Nash, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello and others.

If Ribeiro chooses to leave Nashville, he could wind up being a back-up option if the negotiations with Derek Stepan go south, or if he gets an offer sheet and winds up leaving New York. Hopefully this isn’t the case, and here’s to hoping that Ribeiro would take a pay cut to join a contender and try to make a run at the cup.

Brad Richards

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 16:  Brad Richards #91 of the Chicago Blackhawks receives the puck during the NHL game against the Dallas Stars on November 16, 2014 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

I’ve already wrote an article on this one. With Chicago in salary cap hell, Richards could be willing to sign another cheap contract to join the Rangers, a team he admittedly loved playing for. You can read that article HERE.

In Conclusion: The Rangers need to use the same game plan as last season. Sign some AHL guys to fill out the farm, and fill out the leftovers, like they did with Stempniak last season. Stempniak signed for a bargain deal at one year, $900,000, and really helped the Rangers at times, until they traded him away that is.

But If I was Glen Sather and Jeff Gorton, Arcobello is the first player I’m calling before another team snatches him up. His contract should wind up being very affordable, and he would provide the bottom six with much needed depth scoring. Another avenue is waiting, and see if a relatively unknown player like Brad Boyes is still around one the free agency frenzy has died down.

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Posted on July 1, 2015, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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