The New York Rangers wrapped up their regular season Saturday and began cleaning out their lockers, but after a season in which the team finished in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division with a 32-36-14 season, general manager Jeff Gorton admitted that while he likes what he sees in terms of the team developing under head coach David Quinn, he expects to see changes.
NHL.com’s Dan Rosen reports that Gorton said the Rangers will likely look to add through free agency this summer to speed up their rebuilding project that the team started last season in February when they decided to make changes to the team.
“There’s a lot of things that can happen this summer to speed that up,” Gorton said. “I think we will try to do everything we can to advance it.”
One obvious possibility would be for the Rangers to try to persuade free agent Artemi Panarin to come to New York. The star winger has been rumored to be interested in signing a free-agent contract with either the Rangers or Florida Panthers, although the Panthers likelihood of bringing Panarin to Florida may have improved if they can sign his former head coach Joel Quenneville to a contract. Regardless, the Rangers could be in play for a number of intriguing free agents, including center Matt Duchene.
- In the same press conference, Gorton added that the Rangers are doing everything possible to get their two top prospects signed, including 2018 first-rounder Vitali Kravtsov and goaltender Igor Shestyorkin. Kravtsov played 50 games in the KHL, posting eight goals as an 18-year-old, but the team must wait until his contract expires at the end of the month. Shestorkin has dominated the KHL for a number of years now, putting up an unreal 1.11 GAA and a .953 save percentage.
- The Rangers also announced that forward Jesper Fast undewent thumb surgery and is expected to be ready to train in six weeks. Fast had surgery last Monday to repair torn ligaments and a fracture in his left thumb. The injury, which Fast sustained near the all-star break, didn’t heal properly, which then required surgery. The 27-year-old had eight goals and 20 points in 66 games.
- Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist also spoke about his disappointing season, according to Rosen. The veteran goaltender had a strong first half, but struggled mightily after that. He played in 35 games before the all-star break, winning 15 games, a 3.o1 GAA and a .908 save percentage, but that number dropped to just 17 appearances after the all-star break where he had just three victories with a 3.18 GAA and a .904 save percentage. Lundqvist said he felt really good when he was hoping the Rangers would surprise people, but admitted it was tougher when he knew they weren’t.
- The Rangers announced that forward Chris Kreider will play for Team USA at the World Championships this summer. Rosen reports that Kreider hopes that he and the Rangers can iron out a long-term extension this summer as he is eligible to sign an extension on July 1 as he will be in the last year of his contract. Gorton also had a comment on the situation, “Chris is a goal scorer and they’re hard to find. We’ll figure out what’s the appropriate way to go here in the coming weeks.”