The Rangers may well be poised to add a significant building block to their program this summer, but that’s not all at which they’re looking.
Bob McKenzie had a Monday radio hit on Edmonton’s TSN 1260.
With the Oilers and Rangers set to square off that evening, the Insider was asked for his take on the long-term plan for New York.
“Well, they’re in a rebuild. There’s no doubt about that,” began McKenzie. “That’s why they traded Kevin Hayes, that’s why they traded Mats Zuccarello, that’s why they’ve made the moves that they’ve made. So they’re loading up on picks, and they’re trying to inject more youth into their lineup.
“But it’s kind of a soft rebuild, if you want to call it that. Because don’t be surprised if this summer, when Artemi Panarin is there in free agency, the Rangers are there with bags of money saying, ‘Come see us, come play with us.’ Because it is New York, and they don’t want this to be an all-day sucker, if you will, that’s going to take five, six, seven years.
“They knew they needed to change gears and start accumulating draft picks and young players, and they’ve started to do that. But they’re going to also do other things, and that is dip into free agency or any player that’s available in a trade - a hockey trade - they’re going to look at all of those things because they want to get better in a hurry.”
Panarin is in the second season of a two-year, $12 million contract, and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
Contract-related info via CapFriendly