Rangers using tight money wisely with Blake Wheeler, Jonathan Quick pick-ups

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Blake Wheeler Rangers
FILE – Winnipeg Jets right wing Blake Wheeler (26) tries to controls the puck as Toronto Maple Leafs right wing William Nylander (88) defends during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023 in Toronto. A handful of teams spent the eve of free agency clearing salary cap space with big money buyouts. The Winnipeg Jets put former captain Blake Wheeler on unconditional waivers to buy out the final year of his contract. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

New York Rangers general manager Chris Drury had a tightrope to walk entering the NHL’s free agency period on Saturday considering his team didn’t have a ton of cap space to work with. Yet he still managed to announce eight signings shortly after the signing period formally opened. 

The Blueshirts added to their veteran depth by bringing on former Winnipeg Jets star Blake Wheeler, now 36, and 37-year-old three-time Stanley Cup-winning goalie Jonathan Quick. Both deals were for one year and under $1 million — Wheeler making $800,000 and Quick coming in for $825,000.

Wheeler adds playmaking skill on the right wing, which is something Rangers’ desperately needed. While his better days are obviously behind him — he had two consecutive 91-point seasons from 2017-2019 — he is coming off a 55-point campaign in which he played 72 disgruntled games with Winnipeg. 

In New York, he could see a bump in his production if he lines up on the Rangers’ second unit alongside Vincent Trochek and Artemi Panarin.

Quick, who grew up a Rangers fan, will back up Igor Shesterkin on Broadway in a limited role. After being traded from the Kings to the Vegas Golden Knights at the deadline, he posted a .901 save percentage and a 3.13 goals against average. He did not appear in the postseason for the Knights on their way to a first-ever Stanley Cup, but his name will be engraved on the famous trophy for the third time after leading the Kings to a pair in 2012 and 2014 — the latter in which his Kings defeated the Rangers in the final.

Elsewhere, the Rangers appear as though they re-tooled their fourth line by bringing on center Nick Bonino and right-winger Tyler Pitlick to join Barclay Goodrow. 

Puck-moving defenseman Erik Gustafsson was also brought on as a potential bottom-pairing defenseman who could also provide power-play minutes in a pinch.

2024 Stanley Cup odds

  • Colorado Avalanche +850
  • Toronto Maple Leafs +900
  • Edmonton Oilers +1000
  • New Jersey Devils +1000
  • Carolina Hurricanes +1100
  • Boston Bruins +1100
  • Vegas Golden Knights +1200
  • New York Rangers +1400
  • Florida Panthers +1600
  • Tampa Bay Lightning +1600
  • Dallas Stars +1600

Odds courtesy of DraftKings. For more, click here.

For more on the Rangers, visit AMNY.com