What the Rangers can do with all their impending free agents

The Post’s Mollie Walker breaks down the Rangers free agents:

Ryan Strome, UFA

Strome’s second-row center spot is the most critical decision for Rangers this offseason. The two teams failed to come to an agreement over the course of the season and given that Strome hasn’t produced much in these playoffs, Rangers could try their luck with the open market. Rangers’ ceiling situation also leaves little room for negotiation, which could ultimately end Strome’s tenure with the club.

Kaapo Kakko, FRG

Kakko getting knocked out in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night raises questions about his future with the team. Rangers, however, cannot afford to lose a player who would certainly fit within their budget cap. Ideally, Rangers would like to sign the Finnish winger on a two-year transition deal between $2m and $2.5m. But if Kakko wanted to receive bid sheets, which could be between $4.2 million and $6.3 million, Rangers couldn’t match that.

Ryan Strome (16)
Jason Szenes

Andrew Copp, UFA

Of the four trade-due acquisitions, Copp is likely high on the list of Rangers to keep. His versatility and style match the way Rangers want to play. But that will likely depend on the numbers for Copp, who may be able to command more money on the open market than Rangers can afford. However, if Copp thinks the Rangers are within striking distance of a Stanley Cup, he might be willing to take less to stay in New York.

Tyler Motte, UFA

Motte brings a lot of what Rangers want in a last-six winger. His shorthanded contributions are an added bonus, as is his energetic style of play. Motte has just signed a two-year contract with a cap of $1.225 million. His willingness to re-sign with Rangers on a team-friendly deal will likely depend on the length of his new contract.

Andrew Copp
Andrew Copp
Corey Sipkins

Frank Vatrano, UFA

There is probably no scenario where the Rangers could keep their three acquisitions going forward. While Vatrano has scored eight goals and provided five assists in 22 games for Rangers in the top six, the Massachusetts native is unlikely to be the team’s answer when it comes to filling the front two lines . It should be noted that Vatrano’s agent Peter Fish was the agent of Rangers chairman and chief executive Chris Drury during his playing days.

Justin Braun, UFA

Rangers already have plenty of defense options in-house, with the likes of Zac Jones and Matthew Robertson waiting in the wings. Also, Braun’s price tag as a former first pair defender with the Flyers is probably not something Rangers are willing to offer.

Kevin Rooney, UFA

That’s right, Rooney probably deserves a bump from the $750,000 cap hit by his two-year contract with Rangers brought from 2020 to this year. The question is, can Rangers afford it and are they ready to do it? Every team needs players like Rooney: selfless, sticky guys who can sometimes provide secondary points in a fourth-line role. His penalty clearing abilities are also an added bonus. The fish also represents Rooney.

Julien Gauthier, FRG

Despite playing the most games of his NHL career this season with the Rangers (49), Gauthier failed to leave a lasting impression. He got his shot as Rangers dealt with injuries earlier in the season, but the 24-year-old never stepped into the power forward role Rangers were hoping for. It is likely that Gauthier will not be a Ranger next season.

Frank Vatrano
Frank Vatrano
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Greg McKegg, UFA

McKegg is the ultimate depth player who knows his role and does it well. That’s why the Rangers brought him back after spending the 2020-21 season with the Bruins. He played the second most games in his 10 NHL seasons (43). Of the current depth players, McKegg is the most likely to return.

Sammy Blais, FRG

Since a torn ACL in November derailed his first season with Rangers, who acquired Blais in the off-season deal that sent Pavel Buchnevich to the Blues, the 25-year-old winger should get another chance with the club. He just signed a two-year, $1.5 million contract, but because of his injury he was never really able to show what he was capable of and, in turn, develop leverage in the negotiations. Still, Blais’ small sample size (14 games) has gone relatively well and he’ll likely be willing to re-sign a deal that works for Rangers.

Alexander Georgiev, FRG

Rangers will be looking for a replacement goalkeeper this offseason. Georgiev will likely be with another team in 2022-23.

Christy J. Olson