While the Montreal Canadiens and Vegas Golden Knights make major trades, the New York Rangers have been content to spend their early offseason getting some smaller business done first. A few days ago, the Rangers signed prospect Vitali Kravtsov to a one-year extension, and now they have reached another one-year extension with one of their players. Per CapFriendly, the Rangers have signed forward Sammy Blais, who was a pending restricted free agent, to a one-year, $1.525MM extension. The deal comes in just below what Blais’ qualifying offer was set to be.
Blais, 25, receives his next contract at a lower mark than his qualifying offer, likely because he only got into 14 games this season. After being acquired from the St. Louis Blues as part of the Pavel Buchnevich trade, Blais entered the Rangers lineup and played with his trademark physical, crash-and-bang style. The six-foot-two, 210-pound winger registered four assists on almost 13 minutes of ice time per game before going down with a torn ACL, an injury that ended his season. Blais hasn’t been able to cement himself as a true NHL regular, although his injuries have definitely played a role in that. With this one-year deal, Blais gets an opportunity to finally prove he is an everyday player on a strong Rangers team.
This extension makes Blais a pending unrestricted free agent entering next year, heightening the importance of next season for the player. For the team, getting Blais at a number just below his qualifying offer is a nice early step in the Rangers’ offseason. With major contracts for Mika Zibanejad and Adam Fox set to kick in, there will be some belt-tightening this offseason in New York. The Rangers have several crucial players set to hit either unrestricted or restricted free agency, including Ryan Strome, Andrew Copp, and Kaapo Kakko. Getting as much certainty on free agents lower on New York’s depth chart, like Blais and Kravtsov, should help GM Chris Drury enter the more high-stakes summer negotiations with a clearer sense of his team’s cap position.