NHL Rumors: New York Rangers – Artemi Panarin, Barclay Goodrow, Alexis Lafreniere, and Kaapo Kakko

Sportsnet 590 The Fan: Vince Z. Mercogliano on The Jeff Marek Show on the New York Rangers’ potential upcoming roster decisions this offseason.

** NHLRumors.com transcription

Marek: “I can understand the philosophy behind plugging in holes and filling in filling with some specialists, and looking at team building. But then I say, this is New York and I can see them just saying, you know what, Drury might just call up Kevin Chevedayoff and say, ‘What’s it going to take to get Pierre-Luc Dubois?’ You know what I mean?

Mercogliano: “Ya, you know, Jeff, they got to learn their lesson at some point. We just talked about how last year they targeted specific role players like (Andrew) Copp and (Frank) Vatrano. Not exactly household names but guys that were really valuable for them and how well that worked.

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And then you look at this year. They went for the big splashes. They went for Patrick Kane. They went for Vladimir Tarasenko. And they were out in the first round. I think they need to be more calculated about what they target.

I am though, very curious to see where they go from here. You touched on (Artemi) Panarin. I didn’t really answer that question before. There are legitimate concerns, both with the fan base and with the organization, about how he’s performed in the playoffs. Now, regular season he has completely changed the culture of this team.

You could argue he’s been one of the best free agent signings in franchise history. He’s led the team in regular season points four years in a row, but he was a ghost in the playoffs this year. And I know that even last year he had 16 points in 20 playoff games but he was not happy with how he played. The Rangers were not happy with how he played. When the space gets tighter, and he’s not able to use his dynamic playmaking skills in open ice, it just seems like it’s pretty easy to bottle him up.

And I also there’s a little bit of crisis of confidence going on where he’s sort of battling, when do I open things up and let my skills shine and take the risks that make me a special player, and when do I need to play things safely. And I think that’s a give and take that he’s really struggled with and these playoff years. He has two secondary assists in Game 1, and then he went six straight games without a point. He’s not gone six games without a point consecutively at any previous point in his career.

So this was an eye-opening experience for him. He’s got a no-movement clause. I certainly not predicting that the Rangers are going to trade him, but it feels like, would they have a conversation with him about the direction it’s heading. Maybe it’s more of a possibility than it ever has been in the past.

I could see them doing something, a guy like Barclay Goodrow is someone I would keep an eye on. He brings a lot of the grit and defensive ability that they value and that they probably need more of, but you’re also paying $3.6 million a year for a fourth-liner. If you were able to move that salary, that would maybe open up some slots where you could target guys that would add speed to this lineup.

Look at what the Devils brought in. They bring in guys like Erik Haula and Tomas Tatar. Those aren’t big star names, but they fit the system they want to play.

So I think the Rangers are going to need to do some things like that.

And the last thing I would touch on, that I’m curious to see how this plays out, I’m not predicting they’re going to do this but I wonder if they’ll talk about it, the young guys. Lafreniere, who is an RFA this season. A Kaapo Kakko. Would they explore the possibility of shaking things up with a guy like that? I don’t know. I think everything’s on the table right now, and I think these are all conversations that are going to be had.

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I would be surprised if they just run it back with the same guys next year. Whether it’s clearing a little salary cap space and trying to plug holes with some speed guys that are maybe a little cheaper but would fill roles. That’s a distinct possibility. But could there be a bigger shakeup coming? It’s certainly something we can rule out.”