The New York Rangers have had a busy start to free agency Wednesday afternoon. The team agreed to deals with Vincent Trocheck and Jaroslav Halák, while also trading away Patrik Nemeth in a move that saved close to $2 million in cap space.
The Rangers did improve from last season’s team that made the Eastern Conference Finals, but the day one signings came at a price.
Over four players that were on the 2021-22 team have signed contracts elsewhere or are no longer returning to the team.
The exodus started early with reports stating that Andrew Copp had signed a five year, $5.65 million deal with the Detroit Red Wings. Copp was not expected to be back in New York with the Rangers tight on cap space, but his departure means the Rangers gave up a first round pick for a three month rental.
Trocheck’s contract came out to the same amount of money as Copp but for an additional two years. For a player like Trocheck, the Rangers believe they are upgrading at the center position due to the former Hurricane’s complete skill set.
Copp was not the only rental that New York let walk. Frank Vatrano, another forward the Rangers traded for at the deadline, signed with the Anaheim Ducks for three years and a $3.65 million contract.
The Rangers gave up just a fourth round pick for the forward, but is another case of the team letting a rental walk. Vatrano recorded 13 points and eight goals in 22 games during the regular season for the Blueshirts.
Kevin Rooney and Keith Kinkaid are also reportedly out in New York.
Rooney reportedly signed a two year, $1.13 million AAV contract with the Calgary Flames. The Rangers also reportedly will not be looking to bring back Kinkaid after the team agreed to contracts with Jaroslav Halák and Louis Domingue.
Domingue’s contract is a two-way contract that could see the 30 year old start the season in the minors while Halák is entering year 17 in the NHL.
Rangers clear up space with Nemeth Trade
As if seeing recent Ranger players leave for free agency, the team also cleared cap space with a trade to start free agency.
General manager Chris Drury announced today that the team had acquired defenseman Ty Emberson from the Arizona Coyotes. In exchange, the Rangers have traded defenseman Patrik Nemeth, a second-round pick in the 2025 NHL Entry Draft, and one future conditional pick that could be either a 2024 third round selection or a 2026 second.
Nemeth’s trade clears over $2 million in cap space which will allow the Rangers to potentially bring back other free agents such as Tyler Motte, or work on an extension with Kaapo Kakko.
Emberson, on the other hand, skated in 58 games in the AHL in 2021-22, and tallied four goals and seven assists for 11 points. At just 22 years old, Emberson joins a deep group of defensive prospects.
The New York Rangers are not done with the free agent period. While the team did fill major needs at the second line center, as well as the backup goaltender, the team is looking for other ways to help improve the roster now, while also staying cap compliant.
Losing over four members of a squad that made a deep playoff run last year is always tough to swallow, but the Rangers depth will have an opportunity to continue to show out with the new additions.
It won’t be easy, but Chris Drury and the Ranger’s front office are clearly getting ready for another cup run.
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