If Asham and Powe are claimed by another team, the Blueshirts would have about $ 15 million to re-sign restricted free agents Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Mats Zuccarello and Justin Falk, and to test the free-agent waters.
If Asham and Powe depart – and assuming Stepan, Hagelin and Zuccarello all re-sign – the Rangers would have just 12 forwards on the roster going into free agency.
Though the Rangers’ limited funds make them unlikely competitors at the top of an already thin free-agent list, this year’s crop is headed by forwards Danny Briere, David Clarkson, Nathan Horton, Valtteri Filppula, Jarome Iginla and defensemen Andrew Ference and Ron Hainsey.
Ranger forward Ryane Clowe is becoming an unrestricted free agent, and though both parties originally wanted Clowe to remain in New York, negotiations stalled after Glen Sather elected to keep Brad Richards and limited his financial means. Clowe’s previous contract had a $ 3.625 million annual cap hit, and retaining him also would cost the Rangers a second-round pick in next year’s draft rather than a fifth-rounder, per the terms of their in-season deadline deal with San Jose.
One forward to watch is center Manny Malhotra, 33, a former 1998 Rangers first-round pick who spent parts of four seasons in New York and who also played for new Blueshirts coach Alain Vigneault during parts of three seasons in Vancouver. Malhotra’s previous contract carried a $ 2.5 million annual cap hit.
Malhotra suffered a career-threatening left eye injury when struck by a puck in March 2011. He rebounded to play 78 regular season games in the 2011-12 season and in the playoffs. But this past season, Malhotra was placed on injured reserve after just nine games by Vancouver GM Mike Gillis, who cited trying to preserve Malhotra’s long-term health.
Assuming Powe and Asham are claimed, both players only spent this past season with the Rangers.
Powe, 28, came over in a Feb. 4 trade from the Minnesota Wild to add forward depth, particularly on the penalty kill. He had no points in 34 games as mostly a fourth-line center and winger, then played only three playoff games due to a concussion suffered in the first round against Washington. Powe has one year at $ 1,066,667 remaining on his contract.
Asham, 35, signed a two-year deal as a free agent last July. He battled injury but had two goals in 27 games, fairly regularly providing an effective, physical forecheck on the fourth-line wing. Then, he scored two goals in 10 playoff games but was mysteriously scratched in the final two games of the second round, one of many reasons John Tortorella lost his job after the Rangers were eliminated. Asham has one year at $ 1 million remaining on his deal.