The summer keeps on getting more and more intriguing. With Ilya Kovalchuk once again a free agent, it is time to get creative. If the Rangers want to, they can afford to sign the superstar winger and still keep all their assets. Below is a projected, cap-friendly lineup for the Rangers, with Kovalchuk inserted:
Line 1: Frolov ($3.000)-Prospal ($2.100)-Gaborik ($7.500)
Line 2: Aasen ($1.750)-Anisimov ($0.821)-Kovalchuk ($6.000)
Line 3: Callahan ($2.300)-Drury ($7.050)-Dubinsky ($1.850)
Line 4: Prust ($.8000)-Christensen ($0.925)-Avery ($1.937)
Scratches: Boogaard ($1.625)
Defense 1: Girardi ($3.325)-Rozsival ($5.000)
Defense 2: Eminger ($1.125)-Del Zotto ($1.087)
Defense 3: Staal ($4.500)-McDonaugh ($1.300)
Goaltenders: Lundqvist ($6.875), Biron ($0.875)
Cap Room: $240,833 (Figures courtesy of Cap Geek)
As you can see, everyone is being utilized to their full potential in this new lineup. The obvious subtractions are Todd White, Matt Gilroy, and Wade Redden, allowing for a $6 million cap hit of Kovalchuk, and a $4.5 for Marc Staal.
Callahan, Drury, and Dubinsky, who are all third-line caliber players, find themselves in the right roles, while Avery is placed on the fourth line with Christensen as his center and a combination of Prust and Boogaard on the wing. This line can be very physical and can also chip in a few goals.
Frolov will be placed in a supportive role, anchoring Gaborik’s line, while Anisimov is given a chance to shine with a spot centering Kovalchuk. Prospal also continues his role from last year as Gaborik’s center, while the rookie Aasen gets a chance to have a serious outburst playing on the second line.
The defense will be porous, but the Rangers offense may be able to make up for that.