The New York Rangers 2022-23 roster was not a finished product when the team took the ice last week for their first regular season game. While the league maximum for rostered players on the major league club is at 23, teams can adjust their roster to claim extra cap space throughout the season.
Over a week later and the Rangers have done exactly that.
According to reports, the Rangers placed forward Dryden Hunt on waivers Wednesday afternoon: a move that not only cuts the NHL team to 22 players but also ensures the team can increase their cap space accrual.
In total, moving Hunt to waivers could clear as much as $4 million in space when the trade deadline rolls around in a few months. Rangers general manager Chris Drury has maintained the need to be flexible both in draft picks and in making the team better when he feels the team needs one or two players to add to a championship roster.
Adding $4 million in cap space could allow the Rangers the flexibility to trade for top lien forward Patrick Kane from Chicago, or roll that over in the off-season when New York will have to make decisions on extensions for K’Andre Miller, Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko, and several others.
Hunt signed a two-year, $1,525,000 contract with the New York Rangers on Jul. 28, 2021. In 79 games for New York, Hunt totaled 18 points with an average ice time of 12:09. The former Florida Panther had appeared in three games this season for New York and scored a goal in the young season.
The move does open a potential vacuum of forward depth the team would need to solve if they suffered another key injury to their lines. If Hunt were to clear waivers, he would join Julien Gauthier in Hartford for New York’s AHL affiliate.
Is Hunt’s waiver placement setting the stage for Patrick Kane’s arrival in New York at the deadline? Is it a placeholder for a key off-season of contract extensions?
Only time will tell but Chris Drury has clearly shown the need to be flexible throughout the regular season.
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