The Rangers’ roster and the organization’s remaining cap space has come into focus after a busy first day of NHL free agency Saturday, which means the fate of restricted free agents Alexis Lafreniere and K’Andre Miller should be known relatively soon.
Chris Drury sounded intent on retaining both players when he fielded questions from local media on a conference call shortly after the Rangers president and general manager signed eight new additions.
“I’m not going to get into contract stuff, but we think the world of K’Andre,” Drury said of the 23-year-old defenseman. “He’s an extremely talented, terrific, young player who’s been in the organization since the draft and we hope he’s here for a long, long time.”
As for Lafreniere, the club’s former first-overall pick in 2020, Drury shared a similar sentiment: “Real good young player that we think his best days are ahead of him. We’re thrilled he’s part of our team and hope he’s a Ranger for a long, long time.”
The Rangers have approximately $6.863 million in space on a 22-man roster to split between Lafreniere, Miller and presumably another forward.
Drury has known Drew Fortescue, the defenseman the Rangers drafted 90th overall after trading up to do so at the 2023 NHL Draft, since the Boston College commit played youth hockey with his son, Luke Drury.
“It was fun just to be a dad and watch and see these kids grow together as a group,” he said. “Certainly saw Drew and all the other kids on that team that are going DI. … Our scouts had him targeted a lot higher in the draft. So as the draft was rolling through and he was looking like a possibility, we tried to trade up by pick 80 to get him.
“Got that close and we had Pittsburgh circled as a team that were ahead of us and [might] take him. We didn’t want to let that happen.” Excited to get him. We think he’s on a real good trajectory with two years at the program, having a lot of individual and collective success there.
“We’re excited to see him at development camp next week and certainly at Boston College next year.”
Of the Rangers who became unrestricted free agents — Ryan Carpenter, Jaroslav Halak, Patrick Kane, Niko Mikkola, C.J. Smith, Vladimir Tarasenko and Tyler Motte — only two found homes Saturday.
Mikkola signed a three-year deal that carries a $2.5 million cap hit with the Stanley Cup runners-up, the Panthers. He also earned a $500,000 signing bonus, per PuckPedia.
Additionally, Additionally, Carpenter signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Sharks.
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