How can Rangers fit Vladimir Tarasenko in 2023 free agency plans?

Rangers need to turn the page for Game 5
New York Rangers’ Vladimir Tarasenko (91) looks to pass during the second period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the New Jersey Devils Monday, April 24, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
AP Photos

Analysts and fans of the New York Rangers understood that general manager Chris Drury wouldn’t be able to keep all of their incoming free agents following the end of the 2022-23 season. 

To mitigate significant losses like Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko, Drury chose to attack the free agency period with bargain-bin veterans. 10 signings later, the Rangers have just over $6 million in space according to Cap Friendly. Add in future restricted free agent deals to young players like K’Andre Miller and Alexis Lafreniere, and the Rangers cap shrinks to under $1 million. 

Not exactly enough room to fit superstars like Kane or Tarasenko into the fold again. But certainly not impossible. 

With Kane undergoing hip surgery, the market for the former Hart trophy winner isn’t expected to materialize until later on. 

Tarasenko’s market is far different than his old rival. The former Blue has changed agents and has teams like Ottawa and Carolina interested in his services. Finally healthy, and looking for a new deal, Tarasenko could very well be too much money for the Rangers to pay. 

Or is he? 

Drury’s 10 free agent signings have bolstered the Rangers’ depth and allowed other higher-paid vets to be expendable in the hopes of creating cap space. Barclay Goodrow’s $3.6 million cap hit could add plenty of needed space to bring the Rangers closer to a deal that Tarasenko would be comfortable taking. Even Ryan Lindgren’s $3 million hit could offer added room – however unlikely it is that the team moves one of their best lockdown defensemen. 

Whatever the Rangers decide to do to create cap space though is only half the conversation. In the end, New York doesn’t have the cap space other teams do to entice Tarasenko to sign. The only way the winger would end up agreeing to come is to take less than any other offer on the table – not uncommon, but certainly not a guarantee. 

This is the underlying question facing the Rangers following the first wave of free agency. There are ways to improve the roster by adding cap space, but to do so would mean cutting ties with veterans and draft picks to help facilitate trades. 

In the end, though, the longer Tarasenko waits for the right deal, the better the odds become of the Rangers making the necessary moves needed to be a top playmaker back. 

For more New York Rangers news, turn to AMNY.com.