With recruit camp well underway and the start of pre-season looming on the horizon, Rangers chairman and chief executive Chris Drury expressed his confidence in the club’s situation – in terms of salary and personnel cap – heading into the 2022-23 season.
Along with continuing to explore potential professional tryout deals for a veteran defender and working out final details with 22-year-old Nils Lundkvist, who The Post’s Larry Brooks says is looking for a trade and doesn’t plan to attend camp. In training, Rangers basically have their squad and are ready to start weighing their roster options.
The ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup is the same, but the high expectations are new. Rangers have a tough act to follow after taking the back-to-back Lightning Championship team to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Besides Ryan Strome’s departure in free agency to the Ducks, the majority of Rangers’ core are back and looking to build on last season’s playoff run.
“I think we’ve got a lot of talent and a lot of hungry guys,” Drury said after day two of rookie camp at the MSG Training Center on Thursday. “You have this combination, I think it sets you up to be successful. You need breaks, you need help along the way, but I think we’re in a good position to hopefully try to achieve our goals here.
Rangers will be pushed against the ceiling for the foreseeable future, which makes the groundwork Drury lays down now all the more important. The second-year chairman and GM hasn’t ruled out the possibility of carrying less than 23 players on the roster to ensure the club meets the cap, but it looks like it will all depend on how the camp goes. practice will run as their roster. begins to take shape.
Drury added that he’s comfortable with Rangers’ current numbers when it comes to cap space. It will be important for Rangers to get some breathing room at the start of the season if they are to make a move or two at the trade deadline, which has proven to be a crucial part of the playoff season. last season.
Therefore, filling the rest of the range in-house is an attractive option, but not necessarily a necessity. Defender Zac Jones is one of the top inside options for the final blue-line spot, along with Libor Hajek, entering his fifth season with Rangers.
“We certainly like where his game is at,” Drury said of Jones. “He played a few games. He had a good summer training, off season. Looks like he’s gained weight and strength. We’re excited to see what he has, not just this weekend, but at main camp.
Drury’s move cap dictation was evident this offseason, with Patrik Nemeth offloading the $2.5 million cap hit by the Coyotes and signing Ryan Carpenter to a veteran minimum of $750,000. Additionally, Rangers signed a familiar face in Jimmy Vesey to a PTO.
If the former Blueshirt is impressing during training camp, having Vesey on a PTO gives Rangers the flexibility to see how the rest of the roster pans out before committing to a dollar amount on a contract.
“Obviously we know him, we know him, he knows us,” Drury said. “Guys that play here, you tend to follow probably a bit more and our guys, which is to say our scouts, had a lot of interest in him. I think where he is in his career and things that he was able to do really well for Jersey last year got us excited.
“The last six, big guy, physical player, had a really good year on the PK, so have a chance here to show us what he can do.”