Rangers' cheap depth signings might prove very helpful in the future.
Aside from re-signing Dominic Moore and acquiring Dan Boyle and Tanner Glass, the Rangers haven’t been very active in acquiring some of the league’s best free agents this offseason, but they haven’t exactly been quiet either. The Blueshirts have made a handful of depth moves since picking up Boyle and Glass that could prove very beneficial.
One of the Rangers biggest issues this season was depth, not in their four lines and three defensive pairs, but in their healthy scratches and the AHL. If someone on the team went down due to injury, there wasn’t anyone the Rangers were able to bring in with confidence that would fill that role effectively. It appears as if the Rangers have attempted to fix this problem this offseason by bringing in a handful of players that may not see NHL ice this year, but certainly could help if called on at some point.
On the first day of NHL free agency, the Rangers lost Benoit Pouliot, Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman. The only player they seemed to replace was Stralman in acquiring Dan Boyle, but they made plenty of other moves that day too aside from Glass. They also picked up Michael Kostka, Steven Kampfer and Matt Hunwick, two depth defensemen that have had some experience in the NHL over the last few years. They aren’t the best offensively (Kostka has 19 points in 63 games, Kampfer with 15 and 61 and Hunwick with 67 in 292), but all three can be called on in the event of an injury and fill in nicely on the third defensive pair.
The Rangers also acquired center Chris Muller and goaltender Cedrick Desjardins. Both players have seen a handful of games in the NHL, but will benefit the Rangers AHL affiliate the Hartford Wolf Pack by giving them some much needed experience and talent after a very rough season missing the playoffs with a 37-32-7 record. Along with the NHL experience and depth for the farm team, the Rangers acquired all of these players for under a million dollars each, preserving their limited cap space and allowing them enough money to attempt to resign restricted free agents Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard, John Moore and Mats Zuccarello. Plus, if these players don’t end up on the NHL roster their salaries don’t show up on the cap anyway.
The Rangers also picked up two other depth players this offseason, winger Nick Tarnasky and center Matt Lombardi. Tarnasky has spent some time overseas and in the AHL over the past few season, but at 6’2, 230 pounds he could provide grit that had been lost when Derek Dorsett was traded to the Vancouver Canucks. While Lombardi has been an NHL journeyman since 2003 with speed and a penalty kill upside that could replace the speed lost from Pouliot and penalty killing ability lost from Brain Boyle. While there is no guarantee either of these players will make the NHL roster, if they perform well in the preseason they could be valuable assets to the team at a more than reasonable cap hit.
The Rangers certainly aren’t done with their signings this offseason. They still have to re-sign back their RFAs if they so choose and might want to make a move to acquire a second line center after buying out Brad Richards, but thus far the Rangers have done a good job creating depth in the AHL at decent cap hits that also give them better options for call up during the regular season in the event of an injury.