May 22, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck (16) and New York Rangers center Andrew Copp (18) battle after a face-off during the third period in game three of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Rangers Rumors mill is off to a fine start for the offseason.
After falling in six games to the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, there’s plenty of work for GM Chris Drury to do.
Keep in mind, per Cap Friendly, the Rangers have around $13.5M in space and that means they won’t be able to re-sign all their free agents (restricted or unrestricted). Although they will likely be adding another $2.5M in space by trading Patrik Nemeth. If they can’t find a take, buying him gets them $1.5M back for next season.
Here’s the latest buzz surrounding two key Blueshirts.
New York Rangers Rumors: Andrew Copp
When you look at the Rangers, you have assume that RFA Kaapo Kakko will get at least $2M on a bridge deal. Injured forward and fellow RFA, Sammy Blais will be qualified for $1.6M. Add another $1.5M for a capable backup to replace Alexandar Georgiev and that takes $5.1M off that $13.5M they have to play with.
That leaves Chris Drury with around $8.4M to bring back some of his key unrestricted free agents. With the biggest decision to choose between Andrew Copp or Ryan Strome.
The preference for Drury during the season and playoffs was to retain the versatile Copp. A 27 year-old forward that can play either center or wing, plus both special teams.
TSN’s Darren Dreger said in April the Rangers have been working hard on a contract extension for Andrew Copp. According to Jeff Marek on HNIC, he’s in line for a new contract in the neighborhood of $5.5M AAV.
Make no mistake, on the open market he’s getting paid. This season, he posted 53 points in 72 games with 18 of those coming with the Blueshirts. In the playoffs, Copp added 6 goals and 14 points in 20 contests.
“My first thoughts are how I can get better as a player,” he said on breakup day. “Over the next couple of weeks I’ll evaluate. Basically hear from [Gallant] and [Drury] where they see me longterm. Not just next year but hopefully four or five years. A lot to take in to make the best decision.”
Arthur Staple of The Athletic reports that a source claims Copp and his agent are going to maximize this contract. That means not budging off that $5.5M for at least 5 years.
If that’s the case, I’d say do it. However, no one is privy to the negotiation or what else Drury may want to accomplish with the roster this offseason. Plus, what if Copp thinks he can get more on the open market.
Should Ryan Strome, who has chemistry with Artemi Panarin, be willing to take less that’s a solid Plan-B.
“My first choice is to still be a New York Ranger,” Strome said. “I think I’ve given them the indication that’s my feeling. If that’s not the case then we will cross that bridge when we get to it.”
It’s imperative that Drury not give the 28 year-old any no-trade clauses on his next deal. The Rangers can’t paint themselves into a corner with Alexis Lafrenière, K’Andre Miller, and Filip Chytil due to new contracts in 2023-24.
Tyler Motte on his way to free agency
Motte, 27, is coming off a 2-year deal signed with the Vancouver Canucks for a bargain $1.225M AAV. He is very likely looking at a deal closer $2M on his next contract.
“Free agency is still a bit a ways,” Motte said. “I can’t speak on who’s interested but it will be interesting to see how it goes. I enjoyed being here, that’s for sure.”
This is a big opportunity for Motte, who performed extremely well in the playoffs with 2 goals after returning from a significant shoulder injury. On the season, he recored 15 points in 58 games.
However, in a recent article on ESPN Looking at the Rangers offseason, they have a hard time seeing UFA’s Motte and Justin Braun returning.
So how much will Motte be looking for? And if he wants to test the free agent market, should the Blueshirts simply move on? They could likely get Kevin Rooney to sign for $1.5M or less if Motte is getting offers over $2M.
One thing is clear, Chris Drury and his staff absolutely loved Motte. They went hard for him at the trade deadline and will likely do what they can to keep him.