Mika Zibanejad

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Andersson to get ‘every opportunity’ to make Rangers next season

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The New York Rangers partially addressed their lack of depth at center by signing David Desharnais to a one-year, $1 million deal.

But the Blueshirts may also have another new player who can play the middle next season.

He’s just a little young, that’s all.

“I have to say that I really liked what I saw from (Lias) Andersson at our development camp,” said head coach Alain Vigneault, per the New York Post. “He’s got great hands and he can play. He’s going to get every opportunity.”

Anderson, 18, was the seventh overall pick in last month’s draft. At the time, he wasn’t sure where he was headed next season.

“I have a contract back home with Frolunda, so we’ll see what’s happening, see what the Rangers want,” he said. “Obviously my goal is to play in the NHL. I know it’s tough, and if I don’t make it, maybe play in the American League or play back home in Sweden. I don’t know yet. We’ll figure something good out.”

Despite Vigneault’s remarks, it’s probably a long shot for Andersson to make the Rangers as a teenager. Development camp is one thing. The NHL is quite another — especially for a center.

But long term, the Blueshirts are looking pretty decent down the middle with Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes, Andersson, and possibly J.T. Miller.

Of those four, the oldest is Hayes, and he just turned 25.

Related: Optimism replaces pessimism after changes to Rangers defense

Rangers d-man Klein announces retirement

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In a long-rumored move, Kevin Klein is hanging up his skates.

Klein, 32, has announced his retirement from the NHL after a 12-year career split between the Predators and Rangers. The veteran defenseman had earlier been linked to such a move, following a tough ’16-17 campaign that was derailed by back problems.

Klein penned a thank-you letter that was distributed by the Rangers’ Twitter account this morning. Shortly thereafter, the club made his retirement official.

With the move, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton now has some additional — and important — space under the salary cap. Klein was headed into the last of a five-year, $14.5 million deal, and by retiring his $2.9M cap hit will be wiped off the books.

That’s key, because the club still needs to sign RFA Mika Zibanejad, and would (presumably) want to upgrade the center position.

As for Klein, he walks away with over 600 games on his resume, and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final with the Rangers in 2014. He was also part of the first Nashville team to ever win a playoff series, as he and the Preds upended Anaheim in the opening round of the 2011 postseason.

Key players from Penguins, Sabres, Lightning headline salary arbitration list

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The NHLPA released a list of players who are filing for salary arbitration during this off-season on Wednesday.

It’s important to note that arbitration hearings rarely happen, and with good reason, as they can be harsh situations that may lead to hard feelings between a player and his team. Hearings take place July 20-Aug. 2, with a 48-hour window for verdicts to be made.

Also, the deadline for club-elected salary arbitration is set for tomorrow (July 6) at 5 p.m. ET.

Another key note: offer sheets are not an option for players who file for arbitration. Now, onto the list, which began with 30 players and is now down to 28:

TORONTO (July 5, 2017) – Thirty players have elected Salary Arbitration:

Arizona Coyotes

Jordan Martinook

Boston Bruins

Ryan Spooner

Buffalo Sabres

Nathan Beaulieu

Johan Larsson

Robin Lehner

Calgary Flames

Micheal Ferland

Colorado Avalanche

Matt Nieto

Detroit Red Wings

Tomas Tatar

Edmonton Oilers

Joey LaLeggia

Los Angeles Kings

Kevin Gravel

Minnesota Wild

Mikael Granlund

Nino Niederreiter

Montreal Canadiens

Alex Galchenyuk (signed for three years; more on that here)

Nashville Predators

Viktor Arvidsson

Marek Mazanec

Austin Watson

New York Islanders

Calvin de Haan

New York Rangers

Jesper Fast (signed, read about the deal here)

Mika Zibanejad

Ottawa Senators

Ryan Dzingel

Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Pittsburgh Penguins

Brian Dumoulin

Conor Sheary

St. Louis Blues

Colton Parayko

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tyler Johnson

Ondrej Palat

Vancouver Canucks

Reid Boucher

Michael Chaput

Vegas Golden Knights

Nate Schmidt

Winnipeg Jets

Connor Hellebuyck

Rangers address center depth, sign Desharnais

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Timing, eh?

Just hours after we asked what the Rangers were going to do at the center position, GM Jeff Gorton went out and addressed the depth issue, signing veteran David Desharnais to a one-year, $1 million deal.

The news, first reported by the New York Post, gives the Rangers a fourth piece down the middle in addition to Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller. Gorton has said the club is comfortable with Miller playing center, even though he’s spent considerable time on the wing.

This is a low-risk move for the Blueshirts. The 30-year-old is coming off a year split between Montreal and Edmonton, in which he scored six goals and 14 points over 49 games. He finished reasonably well with the Oilers, appearing in all 13 games while averaging just under 10 minutes a night.

In Round 1, he scored the OT winner in Edmonton’s 4-3 win over the Sharks in Game 5.

It remains to be seen if Gorton is done adding at the center position. It’s fair to think he’s not. The Rangers are still pretty thin and, over the weekend, he indicated he’s been in trade discussions with teams to try and upgrade.

 

What are the Rangers going to do at center?

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After trading Derek Stepan to the Coyotes and losing Oscar Lindberg to Vegas at the expansion draft, the Rangers have found themselves with some serious holes down the middle.

On paper, the club’s top two centers are Mika Zibanejadwho still needs a new contract — and Kevin Hayes. J.T. Miller could be relied upon for spot duty. Swedish pivot Lias Andersson, taken seventh overall at last week’s draft, said he wants to make the Rangers this year, but there’s no guarantee he’ll even play in North America this season.

GM Jeff Gorton is aware the position needs an upgrade.

“We know it’s a need,” Gorton said, per Newsday. “We have the luxury of [winger] J.T. Miller, who we feel is a natural center and at some point we’re hoping to make that move, but we’ve had discussions with some teams and some trade scenarios.

“We’ll see where it takes us.”

One avenue that’s becoming less and less enticing is the free agent market. It’s been open for four days now, and some of the best center options available are gone. Joe Thornton re-upped in San Jose, Nick Bonino landed in Nashville and Martin Hanzal signed in Dallas.

Signing any of the remaining UFA centers would be for depth purposes only. Which probably explains why Gorton is gauging the trade market.

It’ll be interesting to see where it takes him. There aren’t many teams with an abundance of talent and/or depth down the middle, but some may be more willing than others to part with it.