Rangers linked to Komarov, Nash may not play next year

It looks like the Rangers could be actually adding someone to the roster. They’ve been reportedly linked to soon to be former Maple Leaf Leo Komarov.

A gritty and versatile forward who plays an agitating physical style, the 31-year old who has represented Finland at the Olympics and World Championship, Komarov is the kind of veteran the Rangers are looking for. They want experienced guys with character. Something the annoying pest brings.

If it’s true that it’s a multi-year deal, that’s the only drawback. I would rather have Uncle Leo on a one-year contract. Given the direction the Rangers are going, short-term is better for any free agent they bring in.

Komarov loves to throw his weight around. He can get underneath the skin of opponents. His role diminished in ’17-18 under coach Mike Babcock. After consecutive seasons in which he reached double digits in goals and over 30 points, his production dropped to seven goals and 12 assists over 74 contests. He only appeared in two playoff games during Toronto’s first round series loss to Boston in seven.

If he is indeed signing here, I wouldn’t be opposed. This younger roster needs some edge. I could care less about his Corsi. You can’t have our kids being pushed around. So if it’s Komarov or Antoine Roussel, I’m for it.

As for the Rangers Prospect Camp, it sounds promising. Top pick Vitali Kravtsov has impressed with his unique skill.

Brett Howden and Libor Hajek both sound determined on trying to make the team out of training camp. Last year’s first round picks Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil feel even more ready to be on the roster as 19-year olds.

There’s also 22-year old Finnish prospect Ville Meskanen. A player they signed in the Spring. Gordie Clark likes what he sees so far. Maybe he can be a surprise addition on a team that lacks scoring. We’ll see.

In other free agent news, ex-Ranger Rick Nash sounds like he’s considering sitting out next season. If he does, it’ll be due to the concussions he sustained. He’s had a lot of injuries the past few years. When it comes to health, that’s more important along with family than playing hockey.

There were quite a few teams interested. But I think this is the best decision Nash can make. So, he’ll forego the July 1 signing period. Best wishes to him and his family.

The Sabres continue to actively try to move center Ryan O’Reilly. They have two days left before the July 1 deadline. Otherwise, they’re on the hook for a $7.5 million signing bonus that kicks in. The asking price is high. GM Jason Botterill is looking for a first round pick, second round pick and a good prospect. Montreal has interest due to their glaring center hole.

Botterill swung a deal with his former team Pittsburgh by acquiring Conor Sheary and Matt Hunwick for a 2019 conditional fourth round pick. Basically, it’s a win win for both teams. The Sabres add two depth players who can help up front and on the back end. The Penguins dump salary to free up cap space. Maybe they’ll use it to add someone. Jeff Skinner possibly?

John Tavares has finished meeting with all five teams on his list aside from the Islanders. So, he spoke to the Bruins, Leafs, Lightning, Sharks and Stars. Each presentation lasted about two hours. He’s flown home to Toronto and will make a decision soon. Maybe it’ll come in the next 24 hours. But my guess is he’ll wait till June 30 on July 1 Eve. The free agent frenzy begins at noon on Sunday.

There are plenty of suitors for James van Riemsdyk, including the Devils and Rangers. I’ll take the latter with a grain of salt. As much as I like him, I highly doubt GM Jeff Gorton would pay JVR the kind of salary and term he’s looking for. It makes better sense for the Devils, who can use another finisher to take pressure off Hart winner Taylor Hall.

That’s going to do it for this post. Stay tuned for more this weekend.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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