Although New York Rangers backup goalie Antti Raanta has been a popular draft selection by the Vegas Golden Knights not only in our PHR Mock Expansion Draft, but by pundits throughout hockey media. Yet, according to a Rangers insider, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, the pick will not be Raanta after all. Instead, Brooks is reporting that young center Oscar Lindberg will be selected.
This news should come as a major sigh of relief for Blueshirt fans, as Raanta was spectacular in relief of starter Henrik Lundqvist in 2016-17. In a career-high 30 appearances, Raanta posted a .922 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average en route to 16 wins for the Rangers. The extra rest for Lunqvist also allowed the 34-year-old veteran to stay fresh and making nine less starts than in 2015-16 led in part to Lundqvist’s strong performance in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Had the Rangers lost Raanta, not only would they have surrendered a great asset for nothing, but they also would have been pressed into the goalie market this summer to try to find a new suitable backup without much cap space to spare.
Not only should New York fans be happy about not losing Raanta, but the Lindberg leak also means they’ve avoided losing Michael Grabner as well. Grabner had an excellent first season in New York, scoring 27 goals and 40 total points as an unexpected key contributor to the Ranger offense. Yet, Grabner could not be protected what with the impressive young forward depth that the Blueshirts have. Signed on for one more year at just $1.65MM, it also would have been a shame to see such a good fit and affordable weapon leave via expansion. Instead, the 25-year-old Lindberg, who has played a regular role for the Rangers in the past two years but has failed to make the jump to a scoring role, will take his place.