The Case For And Against: Rangers RFA’s

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The end of the Stanley Cup Final is a signal for many things, such as the NHL Entry Draft and the beginning of the free agent signing period for July 1st. Another thing that is down the line is what to do with the impending RFA’s certain teams have. To explain simply, RFA stands for Restricted Free Agent, which means the player is a Free Agent and can be signed to an offer sheet but their former team can match the offer if they please. The Rangers seem to have a nice batch of RFA’s which they need to tend to, we take a look at which ones should stay and which ones should go.

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Brady Skjei, Defenseman

For Or Against: For 

This one is a no brainer. Brady Skjei is a cornerstone for this franchise and is part of the future. He’s already shown signs of his real talent in the back end and will definitely in line to get a nice raise going forward. Dubbed as a younger Ryan McDonagh, we will for sure, be seeing a lot of Skjei as the years go by.

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John Gilmour, Defenseman

For Or Against: For

The emergence of John Gilmour from Hartford was a nice surprise for this team. Although he was not perfect during his first cup of coffee on the big club, Gilmour showed signs being an everyday NHL defenseman. He isn’t the strongest or the toughest defenseman, but the one thing he displayed was his fantastic skating ability and willingness to keep up with the fast pace of the new NHL. Time and experience could turn him into a perfect second or third pair defenseman that can provide a little offense. Gilmour is worthy of a new contract and is a lock to compete for a spot on the big club for next season.

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Vladislav Namestnikov, Forward

For Or Against: Against

Personally, this is a tough one. Although he didn’t do much, Vladislav Namestnikov looks like he could be a fit for this team going forward. The reason why I am against giving him an offer is not because I don’t like him, it’s primarily due to asset management. The Rangers have a lot of younger forwards who have a similar or better skill set and although depth makes for good competition, Namestnikov has enough experience to potentially be moved in a package trade for a better pick or part of a deal that could involve an impact player. Namestnikov is no cheap rip off, he still holds a strong skill set with his quick hands and skating ability, but if the Rangers could move him in a deal that can bring an impact player or a higher pick, I would not oppose.

That being said, if they do end up keeping him, I wouldn’t mind at all.

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Rob O’Gara, Defenseman

For Or Against: Against

The crown jewel in the Nick Holden trade, Rob O’Gara was given away, as the Bruins were looking for depth. I initially thought to myself, “Can anyone be worse than Nick Holden?”

My question was answered. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating for the sake of making a point, but in his time here, O’Gara did not impress. A large defenseman with mediocre skating skills, O’Gara seemed to get beat on multiple occasions, and on many nights, looking lost in front of Henrik Lundqvist. If O’Gara is brought back, and he more than likely would, he should be regulated to Hartford and the AHL, where his skill set matches the style of play they offer. That’s not to say he cannot improve, and if he does, it will be good for the Rangers, but for now, he’s at best, an AHL defenseman.

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Ryan Spooner, Forward

For Or Against: For

The Rick Nash trade gave New York a lot to look at. The two pieces that people tend to focus on are Ryan Lindgren and forward Ryan Spooner. If Ryan Spooner had somehow been acquired a few months earlier, he would’ve helped this team get into a playoff spot, as he would have fit the gaping hole at Center the Rangers began the season with. Enough with the past, he’s here now and is totally deserving of a new contract. He may be a little pricey, but Spooner showed a lot of spunk and skill on a team that was virtually dead for some time. Great hands with an incredible passing mind, Spooner can be an asset to a rebuilding Rangers team, which he can fill the role of experienced vet down the middle. I am all for him being in blue for next season.

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Jimmy Vesey and Kevin Hayes, Forwards

For Or Against: For

Similar to what I wrote about Brady Skjei above, the same applies to these two.

Last season, these two evolved into perfect role players for the Rangers. Both a little more mature and a few seasons of NHL experience under their belt, both Hayes and Vesey are deserving of a nice little pay raise this summer.

The trade of Derek Stepan to Arizona propelled Kevin Hayes into the number 2 center role and performed admirably. He was solid down the middle and became more defensively responsible, while Vesey, although had some down moments, began to fill out a nice bottom six role as the season went on, which included a hat-trick versus Carolina that had him causing havoc all over the ice.

Another benefit to bringing back both Hayes and Vesey is David Quinn. All three come from the college ranks and their combined NCAA experience can help not only Coach Quinn transition easier to the pro game, as both players have NHL experience, but they can cite familiarity to Quinn (especially Hayes) from coming through the college ranks. All in all, bringing these two back is a no-brainer and deserve to be in Blue next season with a nice little pay raise.

Other notable RFA’s

Boo Nieves

Steven Fogarty

Chris Bigras

Adam Tambellini

Boo Nieves will almost certainly be back next season, although with the arrival of Spooner, Namestnikov, alongside Chytil and Andersson, Nieves will have to impress his rear end off in order to make the roster. Fogarty, Tambellini and Bigras will more than likely be players sent back to Hartford for more organizational depth.

Conclusion

The Rangers have a nice little group of RFA’s that can make an impact on the club for next season. Give credit to Jeff Gorton and company for getting in return quality players for out going pieces. Blend that in with players who were already in the system, the majority of the Rangers RFA’s can make an impact on the club as soon as possible.

 

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