Friday October 12th at 12pm Eastern marks the opening up of the Free Agency period, and the Rangers are still looking to make some changes to their roster. While the second center position remains one of the areas of focus, the Rangers now have to look at options for addressing their short term needs on defense, as well as what to do about adding some grind/grit to the team.
The Blueshirts have of course already parted ways with Marc Staal - traded to Detroit - and Henrik Lundqvist - buy-out, but are also likely to have seen the last of fellow stalwart Jesper Fast (UFA) and sometime roster player Micheal Haley (UFA). Greg McKegg is also set to depart as a UFA after recording 5 goals and 4 assists in 53 games following an off-season signing in the summer of 2019.
At the minor level there are several recognizable names, with Boo Nieves, Steve Fogarty and Vinni Lettieri all qualifying for UFA status due to age and limited NHL games played. Both Nieves (4 games) and Fogarty (7 games) saw limited action last season and neither registered a point. Lettieri had seen action in the prior two seasons, but failed to capitalize on his chances.
Also on the outer are 2015 second round pick Ryan Gropp and undrafted free agent signing Dawson Leedahl, neither of whom were extended qualifying offers. Veterans Daniel O'Regan, Matt Beleskey, Jean-Francois Berube and Nick Ebert are all also expected to depart.
In terms of need, the Rangers will likely be looking for some depth on defense, where they might look to acquire another defender to compete with the likes of Libor Hajek, Tarno Reunanen and K'Andre Miller, or possibly look to flip one of the right handers over to their off-side. It's also possible they still trade DeAngelo, especially if a deal cannot be worked out prior to the arbitration hearing, or maybe even after.
As for the second line center position, the Rangers almost certainly were looking at their options prior to Wednesday's 5pm Eastern deadline, but it looks like the team was unable to find anything to their liking and thus have, at least for now, retained Ryan Strome's rights. Strome, who also holds arbitration rights, is due an increase which could push past $4.5M a year, and given that he does not appear to be a long term solution, the Rangers are likely to continue looking at alternatives there.
On the contract front there's much to be done before the projected start of the 2020-21 - or should that be 2021 - season, now slated for January 1st. DeAngelo, Di Giuseppe, Strome and Georgiev are all due new contracts, as are Brandon Crawley, Darren Raddysh and Gabriel Fontaine - who were all extended qualifying offers.