The Stanley Cup Finals have started, but that doesn’t mean we’re taking a break from providing you with daily NHL rumours. Today we look at the New York Rangers‘ approach to their unrestricted free agents. We also have some more news on where Barry Trotz may coach next season. Finally, we explore a rumour about the Ottawa Senators‘ interest in William Karlsson. Let’s dive in!
New York Rangers
Rumour: On the Jeff Marek Show from June 14, USA Today reporter Vince Mercogliano says out of the three big unrestricted free agent forwards the Rangers have in Ryan Strome, Andrew Copp and Frank Vatrano, Copp is the favourite to return.
Analysis: Mercogliano’s reasoning is Frank Vatrano gets ruled out because he’s not a centre. The Rangers have depth at the wings, especially with Vitali Kravtsov coming back. They will sign Strome or Copp as their second-line centre but can’t afford both. Mercogliano says Copp’s versatility as a big, defensively responsible centre who is good on face-offs and can score gives him the edge over Strome. Including the playoffs, Copp scored 32 points in 36 games as a Ranger this season. He was also their top possession player in the regular season and one of the best in the playoffs. Copp was depended on in the defensive zone in the payoffs starting there 52.3 percent of the time.
— SNY (@SNYtv) April 29, 2022
Strome’s greatest selling point is his offensive production and chemistry with Artemi Panarin. However, Panarin is so skilled that I don’t think it makes a big difference which centre he plays with, he will find a way to be productive. Strome has had better production over his career than Copp, but Copp has only been given top-six minutes over the past three years. Last year he had 39 points in 55 games. This year he scored 53 points. He may have more to give offensively with more of an opportunity.
Analysis: Freidman narrowed this list to teams he thinks Trotz has talked with. He said he doesn’t think Trotz wanted to go to the Dallas Stars. That leaves Winnipeg, Detroit and Boston in the mix. There is a story of Trotz buying a house in Nashville, and Freidman said that if Trotz wanted to go into management, returning to the Nashville Predators makes sense. However, Freidman believes that Trotz wants to coach next year.
Out of those three teams, the Winnipeg Jets make the most sense for Trotz. The Red Wings are still building. The Bruins are in trouble with Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk and Mike Reilly missing the start of next season. Not to mention that it is unclear if Patrice Bergeron will return. The Jets had a roster that many believed could be one of the best in the west last year, and most of that team can return. With the proper coaching, it is realistic that they can be the next season’s Calgary Flames and pull themselves out of mediocracy into a contending team. The only disadvantage is they don’t have the same financial resources Boston and Detroit have to pay Trotz.
Analysis: It’s no secret that Ottawa is looking to make a trade using their seventh overall pick to acquire a player that can help them now. They need a top-six forward. However, they need help on the wings. The centre position is full with Josh Norris, Tim Stützle, Shane Pinto and Colin White in the mix, so it doesn’t make sense for them to target centre William Karlsson. The 29-year-old Karlsson also has five years left on a contract that has a cap hit of $5.9 million. It doesn’t make sense financially for Ottawa to use those financial resources for a player who doesn’t fit the age of their core. I don’t see the Senators adding Karlsson.
However, Garrioch mentions Kevin Fiala and Alex DeBrincat as other possibilities for Ottawa. Both those players are in their mid-20s and wingers, making them better fits. However, Garrioch writes that there may be a bidding war for Fiala with the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders also interested. At the same time, it will take a massive offer to land DeBrincat. It is far from certain that Ottawa will land one of those players.
Thank you for reading NHL rumours.