Although the New York Rangers have a few pending UFAs they may sell off before the trade deadline, they could be in buying mode this summer.
Pierre LeBrun had a Friday evening radio hit on Toronto’s TSN 1050, and mused about just such potential.
This was the premise put to the Insider regarding Henrik Lundqvist, 36, for this part of the discussion:
“I guess my question for Hank: It’s one thing to say, ‘I want to stay,’ and then it’s another thing to actually live through the rebuild. Now he’s living through it, and he’s starting at least to sound like he’s hedging a bit on this, ‘I never want to leave New York’ business.’ The problem is he’s being paid a lot, and he’s not a kid anymore.”
“And the Rangers, from what we understand, had this conversation with him last year when they announced very publicly that they were going in this rebuild,” noted LeBrun. “And Lundqvist said no - because it’s not just about the Rangers, his life is in New York. He’s a mega-marketing machine in the city of New York, and that’s hard to transport.
“I don’t see anything happening there. I think there’s frustration there. No doubt the Rangers will assure him that this offseason the Rangers are going to be an intriguing team. First of all, tons of cap room, which is not something we’re used to have associated with the Rangers.
“I think it’d be a prime landing spot for Artemi Panarin. We had his agent on this morning, actually, on Leafs Lunch. Now, we didn’t talk about him going to the Rangers, of course.”
LeBrun was asked what sort of money Panarin, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer, might be seeking on his next contract.
“I tweeted this earlier this season,” recalled LeBrun. “And I think I said $10 million to $11 million was what they would ask for. But Dan Milstein would not confirm that publicly at all.
“And in fact, it’s pretty clear that what seemed like a foregone conclusion this summer with Panarin is going to be at least more of a thought process now. He likes it in Columbus. So what his agent did say is they’re going to meet - him and the player - at the All-Star break and basically come close to making a decision, because Columbus needs an answer.
“But my point is the Rangers have a shot at him this summer, and if Panarin does go to the market, New York would absolutely fit, I think, the criteria for the type of place Panarin would look at. What about Erik Karlsson if he doesn’t sign in San Jose. Good pals with Henrik Lundqvist.
“So I think that’s what I would remind Lundqvist, if I were the Rangers, that just get through the next few months here. That there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Not to mention a lot of good, young players on that Rangers team.”
Lundqvist has two seasons beyond this one remaining on his contract, with a cap hit of $8.5 million. The pact also carries a no-move clause.
Panarin is in the second half of a two-year, $12 million contract.
Karlsson is in the final season of his seven-year, $45.5 million deal, which also contains a modified no-trade clause, through which he can nix 10 locales.
Contract-related info via CapFriendly