The New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton has sealed another contract for center Mika Zibanejad, which now puts him to task to update his roster in anticipation of their training camp in September. With a five-year fresh contract for Zibanejad amounting to $26.75 million, the Rangers now has approximately $3 million capped for salaries. As sportsbook odds for the next NHL season takes shape, Jeff Gorton is now probably focusing on improving their third defensive pairing at training camp.
Gorton could proactively use the cap space to sign another center who can replace Kevin Hayes behind Zibanejad. With unforeseen injuries likely to ruin the party during the season, cap space will stand out as a valuable resource. The current roster for the Rangers include four skilled centers: Zibanejad, David Desharnais, J.T. Miller, and Hayes. Cristoval Boo Nieves, Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson could also feature in the roster as the story unfolds when in comes to professional trial agreements. In my opinion, the 24-year-old Miller has really improved defensively, which makes him suitable for a permanent position at the center. The American left winger displays extraordinary adaptability with the three forward positions. However, if he remains at the center, free agency could lead him to many other enthralling wing options.
Jaromir Jagr could outdo the ever-changing, 18-point output made by Brandon Pirris last season. Pirri and Kevin Klein are now together at Swiss club, ZSC Lions even after playing together at the Rangers. With Jagr still a free agent, the Rangers should opt to pursue him wholeheartedly because of his tenacity to wow fans and improve jersey sales. However, from a hockey perspective, signing him would make a great deal.
Ranger’s fans should start figuring out the opening night, which could bring a group of forwards, such as Buchnevich-Hayes-Nash, Kreider-Zibanejad-Zuccarello, Puempel-Desharnais-Grabner and Vesey-Miller-Jagr. However, right wing Jesper Fast is out on a hip injury till November. Even though many critics would argue that the 45-year-old Jagr won’t keep pace with Alain Vigneaults, I seem to disagree. Jagr is fast and has an incredible puck control, possession-driving play, and unmatched instincts.
Jagr played in all the 82 games scheduled last season for the Florida Panthers, in which he recorded 46 points amidst the many injuries and changes in management that occurred in the club. Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov were sidelined in 51 and 21 games, respectively. In retrospect, the trio played together two seasons before and recorded 103 points to clinch the Atlantic Division’s top spot. The trio scored 75 goals and recorded 184 points. I believe that Jagr’s decline two seasons ago resulted from Florida’s instability rather than his age. In the 2015-16 season, the NHL ranked him at position 12 with 2.94 points per 60 minutes, and tied with Anze Kopitar of Los Angeles Kings at P/60 of 1.98 last season.
Patrick Denis Marleau of the Toronto Maple Leafs has stayed in the club for three years after an $18.75m deal. The 37-year-old Canadian remains a resilient and creative player at his advanced age, which reflects the same for Jagr, especially if we consider giving him a one-year contract. Jagr hard work is needed to guide Zibanejad and company as they look forward to excelling. Winning the Stanley Cup needs experienced characters to loosen the Rangers’ tight performance in the playoffs. Jagr has an incomparable devotion and vibrant personality to keep the entire team upbeat to win important matches.