Rangers News & Rumors: Draft Lottery, Panarin, Lundkvist, Ruff

The first edition of New York Rangers News & Rumors will be focused on the fantasy of Alexis Lafreniere pulling a Broadway Blueshirt over his head on draft day. Would the Rangers really forego a shot at the Stanley Cup in order to have a 12.5 percent chance at the first overall selection?

Of course not, but let a man dream.

There’s not a single team in the play-ins who would even consider that an option. However, the thought of Lafreniere opening his career at Madison Square Garden is mouth-watering, to say the least.

The Draft Lottery: Destroying Tanking and Tankers Since 2017

If the NHL wished to replace tanking with pure, unadulterated chaos, then you could say they accomplished their goal. The NHL’s first official event since their March closure came in the form of a hectic Draft Lottery. What was supposed to determine the few selections of the NHL Entry Draft has ended with more questions than answers. As it stands, one of the eight play-in losers will be awarded with a 12.5 percent chance at the first overall selection.

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The odds of a placeholder team winning the lottery were slim, specifically between one and six percent. Still, one of the eight placeholder teams will leave the NHL Entry Draft with a considerably buffed center core. Pretty safe to say that if the Rangers — who have already gotten favorable results from the lottery — end up with Lafreniere, the NHL community will cumulatively implode.

Related: NHLers by Country – On Top of Their Game and the World

The Draft Lottery’s current format discourages tanking, but it also punishes the “most deserving” of the first overall selection. No one wants to relive the Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres tank-a-thon for Connor McDavid, but there’s a real argument against the current odds. The Detroit Red Wings entered the night with an 18.5 percent shot at the first overall selection, whereas the eight placeholder teams had a cumulative 24.5 percent chance.

That doesn’t seem entirely fair in my eyes, but it causes chaos and that’s what the NHL wants. At least the play-in series’ have even more meaning but I’d be seething if I were a Red Wings fan. Tough start to Steve Yzerman’s tenure as Detroit’s GM, even if he somehow managed to remain calm following the results.

I’ll be cheering for the Rangers when their play-in begins, but I’d be lying if I said that the 12.5 percent chance at Lafreniere won’t be filling my dreams for the weeks ahead.

Artemi Panarin: The Voice of the Players

Somehow, Artemi Panarin continues to evolve into more than the Rangers ever could have expected. On top of being a potential Hart Trophy winner, he’s now leading the charge in the players’ long-awaited reform of the current CBA’s escrow. He took to social media to hopefully incite some sort of change.

For the uninformed, the current CBA has the NHL and the players splitting an even 50-50 of all hockey generated revenue. Since the player’s combined salary can exceed their 50 percent share, the NHL owners use escrow to withhold a certain percentage of the player’s earnings. If the NHL’s share of revenue falls below the 50 percent split, they dip into the escrow to make up the difference. The rest of the escrow is then given back to the players. With COVID-19 wrecking havoc on the league’s financial system, the escrow is projected to be at it’s highest since it’s inception.

Panarin suggests that the players refuse to report to camp if the escrow isn’t reformed. The NHL and NHLPA are reportedly closing in on a new CBA in light of the COVID-19 crisis. Escrow is likely a hot talking point in their discussions. As the Russian winger suggests, escrow must be reformed in order for the players to return to play. Players have been fairly outspoken about their displeasure with the current escrow agreement, but Panarin is the largest name to voice his concerns in recent years. On top of that, to threaten a strike should speak volumes in how pressing this issue has become.

Related: 2007 NHL Draft – 5 Forgotten Picks

As it stands, the current escrow agreement greatly punishes the higher-paid players while players on league minimum are benefitted. It’s a tumultuous situation, but remains the utmost important negotiating factor in the upcoming CBA. It’s worth mentioning that the MLB, NFL, and NBA either have no escrow at all, or they have a much more favorable agreement for players.

Nils Lundkvist Signs in Sweden

Since being taken 28th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Nils Lundkvist has become one of the Rangers top prospects. Following his 31-point campaign as a teenager in the Swedish Hockey League, there was some talk of his North American hockey debut. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a little bit longer before that happens.

Nils Lundkvist
Nils Lundkvist won’t be making his NHL debut for at least another year. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

The 19-year-old defenseman will return to HC Luleå on a one-year contract. The highly-touted prospect won’t make his North American debut until after his SHL season or after the 2021 Word Championships if he’s chosen for the Swedish national team.

Lindy Ruff on the Move?

The New Jersey Devils are reportedly looking to buy Lindy Ruff a ticket for the Hudson River Ferry. Elliotte Friedman revealed that the Rangers assistant coach is a “mystery candidate” for the Devils head coach vacancy.

Ruff joined the Rangers coaching staff in 2017, but has been a topic of controversy since his arrival. As a head coach, he’s emphasized a fast, offense-first playstyle but lacks on the defensive side of the puck. As an assistant coach in New York, he’s been tasked with runnings the penalty kill and defensive system, which have both been heavily criticized by the fanbase. It’s pretty safe to say that there wouldn’t be many wet eyes if Ruff were to leave the Rangers.

What’s Next for the Rangers?

As long as the CBA includes a reformed escrow agreement, all Rangers are still due to begin training camp on July 10. Some players have already begun their transition back into the United States — most recently Alexander Georgiev was seen back in action.

As long as the NHL’s return to play stays according to plan, we should start seeing many more Rangers begin suiting up for social-distanced practice.