The Rangers can survive in a post-Nash offense. He wasn't the player they needed him to be for them in the 15-16 season, and they can move on. I'm realizing now that the Rangers moving on from Nash probably deserves it's own post. Can go for days on this, and it'd be a good analysis, but I digress.
After these two moves, it becomes time to fill out the lineup.
We all know the Rangers have been, well, quick to abandon their draft picks on the hopes of winning a Stanley Cup. Fortunately, the NCAA undrafted free agent pool provides quite a bit of talent every season (see: Hayes, Kevin). This year's prized free agent? Jimmy Vesey. Vesey has decided not to sign with Nashville, the team that drafted him, and will become an unrestricted free agent (though still bound to the entry-level contract restrictions) in August. The Rangers would be wise to do what they can to get Vesey into the lineup. At this point, Vesey is good enough to step onto any team's third-line, the Rangers for certain. Promise him third-line minutes, and get Vesey to New York.
Finally, we can evaluate where the Rangers stand:
Gone: Girardi, Nash, Boyle, Dominic Moore, Eric Staal, Yandle, Boyle, Stalberg(?)
Added: Vesey, Karlsson, Nieto
Need to be re-signed: Kreider, Hayes, Miller, McIlrath, Nieto
In order, above, let's say the cap hits file in as follows:
$4 (4 years), $2.5 (2 years), $2.5 (2 years), $0.8 (1 year), $1.25 (2 years)
Here's how the lineup looks now:
Kreider - Stepan - ________
Miller - Brassard - Zuccarello
Buchnevich - Hayes - Vesey
Nieto - Karlsson - Fast
McDonagh - Klein
Staal - ______
Skjei - McIlrath
Scratch: Hrivik (glass gets waived)
This team has the infusion of youth that the Rangers FO is looking for. It has limited turnover, with the "new" core staying together. Yes, Marc Staal is still in the lineup, and I think he has more value on the trade market than Dan Girardi would, but I believe moving them both this off-season is not what the Rangers are going to do. How much turnover is too much? How many veterans out of the lineup can we move?
The issue here, is that if the Rangers can move Staal as well, that opens up the money to re-sign Yandle. And, along with the other moves made here, leaves the Rangers with a hefty chunk of change to add free agents. Although, as much as the above would suggest otherwise, am I trying to keep this in the realm of possibilities - and Yandle moves on to test the free agent market.
Speaking of the free agent market, this is where the Rangers are going to need to be smart. Where the Rangers are going to ignore every single gut feeling they have, and make smart decisions. The issue with the two glaring decisions that I have wanted the Rangers to make to fill the holes in the lineup above (top-6 RWer, and top-4 d-man) are that both of my targets are having insane playoff runs right now, and jacking up their market prices.
David Backes (3 years, $4.5m AAV) and Jason Demers (5 years, $5m AAV).
Backes is following up a mediocre regular season with an absolutely insane playoffs for the Blues right now. He is part of the group of players absolutely putting the team on his back, as a true captain does. Will St. Louis let Backes go if they end up making the WCF or the SCF? It's not hard to believe they won't. He is their captain. He's homegrown. He's finally delivering in the playoffs.
The are a few reasons I like Backes for the Rangers. Backes is a guy who can come in and add to the core. A veteran who is always in the playoffs. He has size, he shoots right-handed which is a huge lack for the Rangers at the forward depths right now. The speed of the game has caught up with Backes, but he is silencing the haters in the playoffs right now. I've kept a close eye on Backes these playoffs. He's not fast. He makes up for his current lack of speed with hockey instinct. He's in the right place at the right time. He's in front of the net. He's cleaning up rebounds. He's getting in on the forecheck and throwing the body. He's playing the puck well.
Despite the rough season, Backes was still 7th on the Blues in terms of 5v5 production (p/60) per corsica.hockey.
Backes is also quite a big part in the possession machine that the St. Louis Blues are.