RALEIGH, NC – It is difficult to predict where the rangers will be after the expansion franchise design for the new Seattle franchise takes place next season. As soon as the trading deadline expires on Monday, there will be some rescheduling, but that will only slightly clarify what is now a very bleak picture.
Rest assured, General Manager Jeff Gorton is already thinking about it.
Even if his team dreams of the playoffs that will be played against the hurricanes on Friday evening, the future is still the focus. This means preparing for the expansion draft, which will be carried out according to the same rules that the Golden Knights used to lure a player from each team (and many other assets) after the 2016/17 season.
The blueshirts got off lightly when they lost striker Oscar Lindberg, who is now leaving the NHL and doing his job in Switzerland. Of course, it wasn't just luck – Gorton was well prepared.
While trading on Wednesday for former islanders' goalkeeper Jean-Francois Berube (with only future considerations due to the Flyers) aimed more at needing a sensible replacement for Igor Shesterkin at AHL Hartford, he may be able to change his mind this time turn out to be valuable capital year.
Each club is allowed to protect seven strikers, three defenders and one goalkeeper (or eight skaters and one goalkeeper), with players not counting towards the protection limits in the first and second year. That said, Shesterkin is just as exempt as Adam Fox, Kappo Kakko and Ryan Lindgren.
Rangers must expose at least one defender who is under contract in 2021-22 and has played in at least 40 NHL games in the preseason or in at least 70 NHL games in the previous two seasons. You must expose at least two strikers with the same criteria. And they have to expose a goalkeeper who is under contract for 2021-22 or who is a restricted free agent who has already received his qualified offer.
As of now, Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad are two protective measures – both have no-move clauses that they would have to do without in order to be exposed. The future of Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich, Ryan Strome, Jesper Fast and Brendan Lemieux is in the air. It seems as if Brett Howden is in the role of Lindberg when the Rangers can sign him on a bridge deal after his entry-level contract expires next season.
At the far end, Jacob Trouba is in the first year of his seven-year, $ 56 million contract with an annual salary of $ 8 million. Its no-move clause will start next season. So if he's still here, he'll stay.
At the end of next season, defender Brady Skjei will turn 27 and still have three years left for a $ 5.35 million deal a year. But where will he be with a deep pipeline of young defenders? Skjei, which was once the cornerstone of the Blueline, was plagued by inconsistencies, and now players who run their deals at a reasonable price have more value than in the past. Could the Rangers even get an asset from Seattle to expose Skjei?
Dealing with the trading deadline can be difficult enough, and Gorton skilfully navigated the previous two with the necessary cold-heartedness. The draft extension only adds another fold, as it may be too late at this point next year.