The New York Rangers appear to be at least partially filling their center void with free agent David Desharnais, according to a report from Quebec site Touts Sur le Hockey.
Desharnais, 30, had an off-year in 2016-2017, with just six goals and eight assists in 49 regular season games. A knee injury sidelined Desharnais at the mid-point of the season and hampered him beyond that. Nonetheless, his vitals look strong. His play improved after he got healthy and was traded to Edmonton. Over the prior five seasons, Desharnais averaged 15.3 goals and 31.9 assists per 82 games. His on-ice shot metrics are also strong over that period of time. Own the Puck as well as Dom Luszczyszyn’s Game Score model both rate Desharnais as a quality bottom-six center.
Desharnais’ down year could be to the Rangers’ benefit. Assuming he is signed, it would likely be a cap-friendly contract. With full health and a fresh start, he seems like a decent bet to provide quality secondary scoring. The one downside is that Desharnais definitely thrives more in sheltered minutes, which is also true of Kevin Hayes. It’s not a major problem, but it does mean that the fourth center the Rangers add to the roster will need to be reliable in defensive zone starts and on the penalty kill. Nonetheless, Desharnais is arguably best and most pragmatic option the Rangers have at their disposal towards addressing the center position.