It’s certainly not the free agent news fans were hoping for in New York, but the Rangers have finished at least one negotiation. Julien Gauthier has signed a new one-year contract extension for the 2022-23 season, avoiding restricted free agency this summer. CapFriendly reported earlier that the deal is worth $800K.
Gauthier, 24, still hasn’t achieved much at the NHL level but did play in 49 games for the Rangers this season. The 2016 first-round pick has just 18 points in 96 career games, not quite what the Carolina Hurricanes had in mind when he was selected 21st overall or what the Rangers believed they were getting in a 2020 trade.
A mix of size and speed that is difficult to find, Gauthier possesses many of the attributes needed to have success at the NHL level. It just hasn’t been put together to this point, though he might get a regular chance to change that this season. With so many Rangers forwards scheduled for unrestricted free agency–Andrew Copp, Greg McKegg, Tyler Motte, Kevin Rooney, Ryan Strome, and Frank Vatrano are all without contracts–there could very well be room for Gauthier in the bottom six.
Even if the team moves to try and extend some of those names, they’ll need inexpensive options at the bottom of the roster. There’s also a notable difference in Gauthier’s status this year: he is no longer waiver-exempt. That means if the team wants to send him to the minor leagues, all 31 other teams would have a chance to claim him and keep him in the NHL.