Rangers Urged to Pursue $30 Million Golden Knights’ Champion

The New York Rangers need to improve the depth of their roster at the right-wing position and they will have many options to choose from entering free agency on July 1.

Analyst Dane Walsh of Forever Blueshirts proposed that the New York Rangers should consider targeting Vegas Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault.

“It is clear that the New York Rangers are in need of one or two more pieces that can help take them to the next level. One option worth exploring is unrestricted free agent forward Jonathan Marchessault of the Vegas Golden Knights,” Walsh wrote. “This goes against the notion that the Rangers need to get younger, bigger, and stronger, but Marchessault could be a difference maker as a top-six right wing, playing either with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider or on any new line configuration.”

Marchessault will enter the free-agent market on July 1 after becoming one of the original members of the Knights when they first entered the NHL.

Walsh believes that Marchessault’s experience and scoring ability could significantly bolster the Rangers’ offensive lineup. However, this idea presents a few risks that the Rangers should take into consideration if they decide to pursue the forward in July.

Case for Rangers’ Pursuit of Jonathan Marchessault

Walsh argues that despite the Rangers’ recent focus on acquiring younger, bigger, and stronger players, Marchessault’s addition could be the move that helps New York get over the postseason hump.

The Rangers are coming off winning more regular-season games than any other franchise in 2024, thus winning the Presidents’ Trophy. The postseason, however, was an entirely different story. Florida defeated New York in the conference finals and the Rangers failed to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the 10th consecutive year.

Marchessault, who had a standout 2024 season in Vegas scoring 42 goals, Walsh argues, would bring a wealth of experience and proven playoff reps to the team. The winger already won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs helping the Knights to their first-ever title.

Your Conn Smythe winner, Jonathan Marchessault 👏 pic.twitter.com/5VdCXPNMPG

— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) June 14, 2023

“Marchessault is coming off of a 42-goal season with the Golden Knights, an NHL career-high in his 11th season. He finished with 69 points, just shy of his 75-point career best,” Walsh wrote. “He’s a seven-time 20-goal scorer and has scored 30 or more three times. He’s durable and consistent, and would be a big upgrade for the Rangers.”

Marchessault’s 69-point 2024 season was a near-career-high as he fell just 6 points short of 75. Walsh highlighted that in 102 career postseason games, Marchessault has s scored 76 points boasting a plus-37 rating.

“His lack of size does not deter Marchessault when the games get more difficult,” Walsh wrote, referring to the playoffs. Marchessault scored 25 points in 22 postseason games on his way to winning the championship in 2023 and the Conn Smythe award.

Marchesault’s Appeal as a Top-Tier Free Agent

Greg Wyshynski of ESPN and Peter Baugh of The Athletic have recognized Marchessault as a top free agent in separate reports published in June.

Wyshynski categorizes Marchessault as a “Tier 1: Impact Player” free agent, defined as an “established player who can play key roles immediately for a team” in his ranks.

“Marchessault has seen a roster of original Golden Misfits leaving Las Vegas during his time with the franchise due to age and salary cap considerations. He’s the leading scorer in Golden Knights history and won the Conn Smythe in their Stanley Cup championship season in 2023,” Wyshynski wrote.

Jonathan Marchessault scores for the second straight game to get the game’s opening goal. pic.twitter.com/KO8AUJNU9C

— Golden Knights Radio (@VGKRadioNetwork) January 19, 2024

Baugh discussed the Rangers’ choices at the right wing, emphasizing Marchessault’s high value on the market. The reporter, however, acknowledged that signing him might be a challenge for the Rangers.

“Marchessault feels like a bit of a longshot. He is coming off a 42-goal season and the 2023 Conn Smythe Trophy, so he’d likely be expensive. The 33-year-old would certainly add to the Rangers’ roster if Drury somehow made a deal work, and the veteran is a proven postseason performer,” Baugh wrote.

Financial Risks and Possible Contract Demands

Walsh made sure to include some cautionary tidbits regarding the financial aspects and risks that signing Marchessault would entail. The analyst thinks it is essential for the Rangers to avoid long-term commitments that might not pay off as Marchessault ages past his current 33 years old.

“If the Rangers are willing to pursue Marchessault, they must do so with some caution,” Walsh wrote. “It would not be wise to overspend for the forward, as his production will inevitably start to decline in years to come.”

Marchessault completed a six-year, $30 million contract with an annual cap hit of $5 million. Walsh thinks the Rangers could offer the veteran a “two- or three-year contract, even in the $7 million per range,” and for Walsh, that’d be “a great move.”

The Rangers enter the offseason with $13.7 million in cap space following the San Jose Sharks claim of Barclay Goodrow on June 19.

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