James Dolan said recently that he knows the Rangers still need to find "one great player who can make a difference." (NY Post)
Dolan said that the Rangers have identified some players that might become available and that if they do, they want to be in a "position where we're able to get them. (NY Post)
The Rangers have been mentioned as a possible team for Erik Karlsson.
Larry Brooks wrote in early April that there is no indication that Tavares would sign with the Rangers or that the Rangers have a plan to after him. (NY Post)
The Rangers are expected, as of now, to have between $27 million and $30 milliom in cap space, depending on the upper limit, as well as 7 draft picks in the first three rounds this June.
Adam Rotter: As an organization the Rangers have obviously never been shy about going after big time players that potentially fit the role of difference maker. Just in the last 10 or so years, Scott Gomez and Chris Drury were signed to be difference makers, so was Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards and Kevin Shattenkirk. Rick Nash was acquired to fill that role and while he was at the end of his career, Marty St. Louis still looked like he could. The Rangers had mixed results with that group with some playing that role sporadically, one being moved to acquire a player who became a difference maker and two, in Richards and Drury, that are part of the front office and will be trying to find the next one.
The Rangers, if they want to, have the assets to go out and get Karlsson. They have the picks, prospects and cap space to keep him long-term but it's likely they could just go after him next summer and have him join a team already one-year into this process. It seems very unlikely that, if he gets to free agency, John Tavares will sign with the Rangers. Besides all of his loyalty to the Islanders and his desire to stay there, if he leaves, he is going to go to a team that is contending and battling for the Cup. The Rangers are hoping to get to that point, but Tavares has spent pretty much his entire career up to now on a team building toward the future and it hasn't gotten him any closer to his goal.
So where do the Rangers find this difference maker and when do they go for him? They can try to move up in the draft and go about it that way, hope they already have one or two in Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson or go down the same kind of route of free agency and trades. Next summer, after the Rangers have seen a year of their prospects and their new coaching staff, seems like it could be the right time for the Rangers to try and find that difference maker if they need to go outside the organization.