2012 NHL Free Agency: How Justin Schultz Would Change The New York Rangers' Offseason Plans

Editor's Note: For the purpose of this article we're going to make a few assumptions. Assume the New York Rangers sign Justin Schultz through free agency. Let's also assume that his contract is a two-year, $4-million deal ($2-million cap hit). Also, this article is written speculating the availability of certain players. Ready? Good. Here we go.

If the Rangers manage to land Schultz, they would now have three offense defenseman on the roster (Michael Del Zotto, Tim Erixon and Schultz). One of those players (Del Zotto) played a significant role for the Rangers last year. Another (Erixon) is expected to play a major role next year, while a third (Schultz) would probably crack the lineup and contribute.

Either way, that's a ton of offensive-minded defenseman, and with rumors already swirling about Del Zotto's availability, it seems likely that the Rangers' brass would be more inclined to move him with Erixon and Schultz behind him. So how does this change the Rangers' outlook on the offseason?

Join me after the jump to find out.

Earlier last season it was reported that the Anaheim Ducks were potentially looking to part with Bobby Ryan. Those rumors, obviously, fell through as the Ducks rebounded their early season mess but still missed the playoffs. At the time, we looked into who the Rangers would need to give up to acquire the Ducks' sniper -- Brandon Dubinsky (before his trade value plummeted) was the centerpiece of that deal along with potential prospects and picks.

Today, the scene is drastically different. The Rangers are fresh off a deep playoff run, and are suddenly in massive need of some scoring help to cover up the goal-scoring they are potentially going to be without to start the season thanks to a Marian Gaborik injury.

Now, we've talked at length about the trade value of Del Zotto. Many of you believe (and I agree) that it makes no sense for the Rangers to trade a young defenseman brimming with talent. But if Del Zotto was moved in the right deal, would you be willing to listen. And if that deal was for a 25-year-old, four-time 30-goal scorer, would it make it worth it? Would it change your opinion if the Rangers replaced Del Zotto with Schultz (remember, you would be replacing a proven 40-point defenseman for a prospect with absolutely no NHL experience)? Is Ryan even available? Would Del Zotto along with Dubinsky (for cap reasons) and a package be too much for Ryan?

It's an interesting situation. There's no doubt that the Rangers need scoring help. There's also no doubt that Ryan will bring that scoring help and that he would be much cheaper than, say, Zach Parise off free agency (he has a $5.1 million cap hit for the next three years). Then again, Parise wouldn't cost assets.

If, say, Ryan isn't available then the next option is probably Rick Nash. This is where the scinario changes for me. I simply don't think Nash's age and cap hit is worth a player like Del Zotto. If the Rangers are going to trade youth, then they need to get it back.

As of now, we don't know who will be on the market (well, except for Nash). So that too might change the outlook.

I know this article is a lot to assume, but with the Rangers in on Schultz it's worth looking into.