The New York Rangers enter the NHL offseason in one of the best positions: They have money to spend, and are a prime free agent destination.
Some of the game's biggest names, like Erik Karlsson and Artemi Panarin, have already been linked to the Rangers before free agency begins on July 1. The team also scored a major victory in the draft lottery and will get to select a franchise player with the second overall pick.
While the Rangers are expected to be finalists for either Panarin or Karlsson this summer, that doesn't mean they should be done shopping. They have many prospects gunning for spots, but it is a little bit of proven veteran goal scoring that has a way of coming up clutch in the Stanley Cup playoffs-just look at Justin Williams and Patrick Maroon in this year's postseason.
Here are some buy-low or trade candidates that could help round out the Rangers' roster:
The Rangers already have lots of young, controllable forward depth, and Panarin or Karlsson would provide a 70-point producer. Even if they sign one of the star scorers, they would still need a little help from the rest of the roster putting pucks in the net, and the Rangers would not have too much money left to spend to find that player.
There are some budget options, though. The Rangers could go into the clearance rack and check out Tyler Ennis, Richard Panik or Colin Wilson.
Ennis plays with speed and a sniping touch that the burly Rangers don't have much of; Panik plays a similar game to Michael Grabner, who had lots of success as a Ranger. Wilson is a bigger guy, standing at 6-foot-1, 221 pounds, who has a knack for postseason success and could be valuable on a young roster.
The Rangers are a little short on proven middle-six scoring, and Ennis, Panik or Wilson could be good fits in the $4 million range that would pair nicely with a potential blockbuster Panarin signing.
Defense is a much different story for the Rangers. They don't really have a No. 1 defenseman on the roster and with several prospects, like Adam Fox and K'Andre Miller, coming in as soon as this season, the Rangers will need to acquire some veterans to lead the kids.
They will likely try to trade or buy out Kevin Shattenkirk, and some think that Marc Staal or Brendan Smith could be on the move, too. Game-breaking defensemen are hard to find as free agents (just ask the Rangers), but the Blueshirts have a glut of picks and forward prospects that they could look to trade for an impactful piece.
Calgary Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie is on the block and the Rangers would be a perfect fit. He's a left-handed defenseman that has extensive top-pairing experience alongside a Norris Trophy candidate in Mark Giordano. He is capable offensively and has always been a plus player who blocks a fair amount of shots.
The Winnipeg Jets are also shopping Jacob Trouba, who would cost an even steeper price. Both Brodie and Trouba are only signed for this year, so the Rangers would have to pony up an extension to keep these guys long-term. If they are able to shed Shattenkirk or Smith's salaries, it shouldn't be a problem.
The Rangers would have to give up a lot for these guys, which could mean Chris Kreider paired with a couple of prospects or high picks. Exploring a trade for one of these guys could be a good strategy to redistribute some money on the books into a more productive player.
The Rangers are looking to complete a quick turnaround. Signing Panarin or Karlsson is a must this summer, while a shrewd trade for Brodie and adding another veteran forward could be a solid way to complement their new star and their bushel of prospects.
The Rangers, equipped with a bold new president and almost $20 million to spend this summer, may just be able to pull it off.