Chris Drury “Center” of Attention for Rangers Offseason

Silly season is upon us as rumors are flying and it’s hard to make sense of what is true and what isn not. One thing that’s for sure is that Chris Drury will be in the market for a center to bolster the Rangers second line. With Larry Brooks reporting that Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp will be testing the UFA market on July 13th it’ll be even more pressing for Drury to find their replacement.

There has been no shortage of rumors for possible replacements for Strome and Copp those of which including Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mark Scheifele, JT Miller, and even Sean Monahan has been mentioned as a possibility. The one thing that all these players have in common is that they’re already on expiring or close to expiring contracts. It’s been noted that Drury has been hesitant to offer Strome and Copp a longterm deal which is likely why they’ll both be on the open market when free agency begins.

The Blueshirts have a lot of young players to try and retain not to mention trying to keep the services of Tyler Motte who proved to be a useful piece on the fourth line during the postseason. Kaapo Kakko needs a new deal this summer which likely won’t be much but when you’re a cap strapped team every cent and piece of wiggle room matters. Not to mention K’Andre Miller, Alexis Lafreniere, and Filip Chytil will all be due raises as well in the not so distant future and they all figure to be key parts of the Rangers future moving forward.

JT Miller will be entering the final year of his current contract and he’ll be making only a little over $5M for this season which makes perfect sense for Drury and the Rangers. Bringing in Miller allows the Rangers to stay competitive at a high level this season off an ECF appearance and doesn’t jeopardize the Rangers future cap situation. Fans would have to come to grips with the fact that this move would be a pure one year rental as Miller will cash in big on what he’s done in Vancouver.

The name that makes the most sense to me would be acquiring Mark Scheifele. There seems to be a changing of the guard in Winnipeg with a lot of the moves that have happened recently and Scheifele’s time in Winnipeg appears to be coming to an end. Scheifele, 29, has two years left on his current deal at 6.125M a year and would be able to slide right in behind Mika Zibanejad and instantly boost the club offensively alongside Artemi Panarin. There is concern about Scheifele’s defensive game or lack thereof and if he would be a major upside over Ryan Strome but offensively there’s no denying his impact and what he would bring to the club. The Rangers have the pieces required to get a deal done for Scheifle or his teammate PLD, the major question would be does Drury want to part with those assets?

Another option in play for Drury will be to look to sign Paul Stastny and have him center the Rangers third line and give Chytil the second line responsibilities. After Chytil’s breakout postseason the club could look to increase his responsibility and add Stastny as a reliable centerman who could slide up to the second line if Chytil struggled with the opportunity given. Stastny can be used in every situation and can be a viable option on the second powerplay unit to let one of the kids grab a top unit powerplay spot that used to be occupied by Strome.

With no first or second round picks in this years draft Chris Drury will have to get very creative if he wants to try and keep this club on the upward trajectory it’s on. Without a viable second line center upgrade the Rangers will almost surely take a step back from the success they had this season.

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  • Nick has been an integral member of TheFHN since the founding of the network. A hockey player in various levels since a young age and a lifelong Rangers fan, Nick bleeds blue. As a podcaster for the past 8 years, Nick is 1/2 of the team for the Two 4 Roughing and 30 on Broadway Talking Blueshirts podcasts. In addition to the podcasts, he is a writer for 30 on Broadway OT.


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