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Let's Go Dumpster Diving!

Though this free agent class is a demonstrably weaker class than most, it, too, stands to offer a number of free agents who are, to this point, still available for pennies on the dollar. Below are three players who I think the Rangers would be wise to place one of these calculated bets on:

[b]Daniel Winnik, 32[/b]

Winnik is your par for the course grizzled veteran bottom-six grinder whose physical game endears him to fans and teammates alike, but whose production isn’t nonexistent – an important factor to keep in mind when discussing signing players renowned for their hitting game. It’s this added dimension, among others, that separates him from his singularly talented, fixed gear peers like Tanner Glass, who the Rangers are thankfully past.

In the 227 games he’s split between the Washington Capitals, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Pittsburgh Penguins over the last three seasons, Winnik has compiled 27 goals and 78 points, good for a 0.34 points per games played (P/GP) average. The 25 points in 72 games he scored with the Caps last season nearly mirrors that production at 0.35 P/GP. This all, too, has come as his time on ice per game (TOI/G) has continued to fall over that span. He’s gone from averaging 16:50 TOI/G with the Leafs in 2014-15 to 12:54 with the Caps last season. His goal-scoring is on the lower end of the spectrum, even for a bottom-six player, but like Jesper Fast, his defensive game is stellar. He had the fifth highest shorthanded TOI/G (2:31) with the Capitals last season, and in terms of shot suppression, he’s among the best the league has to offer. For a Rangers team that gave up the sixth-most shot attempts against (3823), the sixth-most unblocked shot attempts against (2799), and whose penalty-kill (79.8) was just 12th league wide last season, improving in all three facets is something Winnik could help with.

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He’s also not an analytics drain, either, which is another important aspect of judging players who often play much of their time without the puck. He’s averaged a 51.5 corsi for percentage (CF%) and a 51.9 fenwick for percentage (FF%) over the last two seasons with the Caps in which he’s been deployed heavily in a defensive role, averaging a 58.6 defensive zone start percentage (dZS%) to a 41.4 offensive zone start percentage (oZS%).

Other options include Alex Chiasson and Andrej Nestrasil. More on both in the article.

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Rangers Sign G Alexander Georgiev to 3-Year Entry-Level Contract

According to CapFriendly.com, the New York Rangers have signed 21-year old Russian goaltender Alexander Georgiev to a three-year entry-level contract.

[INDENT]:tweet: @[b]CapFriendly[/b]: #Rangers have signed free agent goalie Alexander Georgiev

3 year Entry Level contract
$792,500 cap hit

* includes Games Played bonuses[/INDENT]

Playing for TPS in Finland’s Liiga last season, Georgiev posted an impressive .923 save percentage (SV%) and 1.70 goals against average (GA/A)in 27 games.

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Rangers, Filip Chytil Agree to 3-Year Entry-Level Contract

New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced this afternoon that the team has signed forward Filip Chytil to a three-year entry-level contract.

:tweet: @[B]NYRangers[/B]: OFFICIAL: #NYR have agreed to terms with forward Filip Chytil on a three-year, entry-level contract.

Chytil, 17, was selected 21st overall by the Rangers in this past NHL Entry Draft. In 38 games with PSG Zlin in the Czech Extraliga this past season, he scored four goals and four assists for eight points and was one of 21 players younger than 18 who played in the league during the 2016-17 season.

Tyler Bozak by Bridget Samuels
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Perhaps There's Something to Those Bozak Rumors

As Brooks noted, defenseman Nick Holden, who carries with him a $1.65M AAV for one more year, could be used to offset the salary cap space needed to bring in Bozak. In fact, if no other significantly priced items were included in the deal, a one-for-one trade should leave both teams salary cap compliant to start the season.

Plus, there’s much to like about Bozak beyond the handful of positives Brooks shared in his column. Not only is he an ace-in-the-hole at the dot—an area of the game the Rangers could surely improve—but he’s a fantastic skater with solid two-way instincts. Should the Rangers acquire him, those attributes should translate well to Alain Vigneault’s system that relies so heavily on quality skating and intelligence in all three zones.

Best of all, Bozak is a quality special teams player. His 63 Power Play Points (PPP) are fourth-highest on the Leafs over the last five seasons behind Nazem Kadri, Phil Kessel (now with the Pittsburgh Penguins), and James van Riemsdyk.

In terms of possession metrics, he’s also been particularly reliable over the last two seasons in which the Leafs have bounced back with a star-studded cast of young talent. He has a two-year Corsi-For percentage (CF%) of 52.1%, and a Fenwick-for percentage (FF%) of 50.55% over the same span, all at five-on-five, and all while skating with only a slight edge toward offensive zone starts (oZS%) (54.85 oZS% to 45.15 dZS%).

Oddly, though his total time-on-ice has fallen each of the last three seasons, falling to a career-low 16:25 last season, as Brooks highlighted originally, his Points Per Game Played (P/GP) has actually increased in each of those seasons, as he finished last year with a 0.71 P/GP average. At the age of 31 (he’ll turn 32 in March) it’s difficult to project just how likely it is to continue to increase again this season, but even if it stayed flat, that’s still a projection of 58 points over 82 games, which is stellar second-line center production in today’s NHL.

New York Rangers @ Edmonton Oilers by Karan Bawa
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Why Zibanejad Absolutely Must Sign Long-Term

The productive Swede is inarguably one of the most important players to the Rangers immediate future, and as the roster is currently constructed, will begin the 2017-18 NHL season as the Rangers de facto first-line center. Thankfully, it’s a role he was drafted to eventually take on by design, and his steadily increasing production provides the historical record to justify his finally being given the opportunity to prove he can handle the task.

A quick look at his boxcar stats over the last season paint a strong, progressive outlook for his immediate future as the Rangers’ top-line center:

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With his points per game played (P/GP) pace gradually improving year-over-year, combined with being arbitration eligible and having only two years of RFA status left, is there really a choice in the matter to lock him in long-term? Despite the injury-derailed season he had this past year, he’s proven his value as a player worth investing in.

Signing Zibanejad to another bridge contract—a term commonly used to describe short-term deals for young players—would be bad business for the Rangers, who should have learned a valuable lesson in why those deals are of diminishing value in today’s NHL. Not only because they assuredly increase the cost of future contracts (especially those that purchase Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA)-eligible years), but specifically in Zibanejad’s case, because he already signed a bridge deal with the Senators coming out of his Entry-Level Contract (ELC) back in 2015. Asking him to sign another only accomplishes in kicking the can down the road and promises to make the Rangers pay for it financially when they finally show a willingness to go long-term, this time at the age of 25 or 26 where they’d need to buy even more UFA-eligible years as a result. A year or two of a relatively cost-controlled AAV just isn’t worth the long-term implications that signing Zibanejad to that kind of contract would ultimately cost the Blueshirts. It’s not just the year-to-year savings, either. It’s the life of the contract and the age in which the player will be upon its expiration.

This is as sure a reality as there can be, and it’s one the Rangers (hopefully) were taught not to relive with Derek Stepan, whom this very thing occurred with for many of the same reasons.

Kevin Shattenkirk by Bridget Samuels
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Rangers Sign Kevin Shattenkirk to 4-Year/$26.6M Contract; $6.65M AAV

It’s happening. The biggest name in free agency, Kevin Shattenkirk, is a New York Ranger according to multiple reports:

:tweet: @[b]TSNBobMcKenzie[/b]: . @frank_seravalli reporting an expected four-year deal with an AAV of $6.65M:

The New Rochelle native officially agreed to a four-year deal worth $26.6M a few hours after the market for Unrestricted Free Agents opened at noon Eastern time, bringing to a close more than two years worth of speculation that the 28-year old wished to suit up for the Blueshirts.

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Dreger: "Ongoing Discussions" with G Ondrej Pavelec

With less than 24 hours to go before the bell tolls signaling the opening of the Unrestricted Free Agent market, it appears the Rangers have set their sights on soon-to-be ex-Winnipeg Jets’ goaltender, Ondrej Pavelec.

After being sent to the AHL for much of the 2016-17 season, Pavelec, 29, was recalled late in the season and only played in eight games for the Jets last year in which he posted a middling .888 SV% and horrific 3.55 GA/A. Suffice it to say, if the Rangers are eyeing him as the next backup goaltender to Henrik Lundqvist, it’s going to take a lot of blood, sweat, and tears from goalie coach Benoit Allaire to rehab his career back to respectability. The good news for the Blueshirts is, given his career dip, Pavelec should come in at a very reasonable price point and might be one of the cheapest backup goaltenders available.

Scott Hartnell by Rich Lee
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The Case for Scott Hartnell

This summer’s Unrestricted Free Agent class is widely considered to be one of the weakest crops in years, but late Thursday afternoon, an interesting name was officially added to it thanks to a late buyout — Scott Hartnell. Hartnell’s now ex-team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, formally announced they would be buying out the final two […]