Ahead of the deadline, the front office of the New York Rangers have quite some work to get done. With multiple key players becoming free agents at the end of this season, General Manager Glen Sather has to mull over his options, keeping the salary cap in mind, in order to do what is best for his team. With the extension of Marc Staal, keeping some key players may become a sticky situation.
At the end of this season, the Rangers have a handful of players who may have to be dealt or test the free agency pool. The list includes: Derek Stepan, Martin St. Louis, Chris Kreider, Carl Hagelin, Mats Zuccarello, J.T. Miller, Lee Stempniak, Jesper Fast, John Moore, and Matt Hunwick.
These players have become crucial to this team, yet they may not all be returning by the trade deadline or after the offseason. Stepan should be the next to receive a big deal, as he is doing it all for the Blueshirts. He can score, kill penalties, create plays out of nothing, and adds a veteran experience presence in the locker room at a young age.
Marty St. Louis will likely take a paycut in order to stay on Broadway. He loves playing in the big city, and will definitely do what it takes in order to stay. Most of these players will definitely receive contracts, however it may become difficult to keep fan favorites such as Carl Hagelin or Mats Zuccarello. Chris Kreider will also more than likely receive a new contract as well. He is finally starting to live up to his potential and moving him would be a costly mistake for Sather.
Around the rumor mill, it seems that one of these two players may make their grand exit off broadway this season. The front office apparently has their eyes on Toronto Maple Leafs center Mike Santorelli. This may be a great deal for the Rangers. He is a natural centerman, with a winning percentage of 47%.
He kills penalties for the Leafs and would drastically improve the face-off depth of the Rangers. His cap hit is quite low and would be a smart move. However, Sather should not move Hagelin or Zuccarello for a player like Santorelli.
Next, the Rangers are reportedly interested in Antoine Vermette. He is a veteran centerman who could also instantly improve the Rangers down the middle. While he may not add offense to the team, his 55.2 face-off percentage would absolutely be appealing to this team, who are in need down the middle.
The front office will deal players in order to make some cap space for key core players, however fans may see some of their favorites packing their bags. The salary cap era has definitely shown its issues during this day and age, but the NHL is also a business. Hopefully the Rangers can add some extra talent to the team if players have to be dealt in order to make room.