Larry Brooks of the New York Post is reporting that the New York Rangers will not submit a qualifying offer to Swedish defenseman Fredrik Claesson.
Rangers will not extend QO to Claesson, Post has learned. Did a creditable job as seventh D last season but just no space on roster. Thus becomes free agent.— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) June 20, 2019
Claesson was one of general manager Jeff Gorton’s few free agency signings last offseason. On paper, he looked like an ideal fit as the Rangers’ seventh defensemen. Signing him to a one-year, $700,000 contract came with zero risk and a chance of a moderate reward. Unfortunately, he wasn’t rewarded with much ice time or opportunity after proving himself more than capable of being a staple on the team’s third defensive pair and penalty kill.
Despite being underutilized and missing time with a shoulder injury, Claesson still managed to make a positive impact on the Rangers’ blue line.
From Shayna Goldman’s report card on Claesson:
When in the lineup, Claesson helped bring the stability to the Rangers’ blue line as they moved away from a more chaotic defensive system. The problem was how limited his ice time was, as it was with the Senators. With that in mind, it makes sense why the Rangers were able to acquire him at such a low cost in the first place. But just because his contract was that of a seventh defenseman didn’t mean he should have been used like one considering this team’s struggles.
In all likelihood, Claesson will get another crack at an NHL roster due to his sound defensive play. He is one-dimensional, but there’s no denying that there is always room on a roster for a defensively skilled blueliner who will take up less than $1 million in cap space.
Even with Claesson out of the picture, there are still a lot of questions surrounding the structure of the Rangers’ blue line for next season. Brady Skjei, Marc Staal, Brendan Smith, and Libor Hajek are the only d-men under contract who played significant minutes on the left side last season. And, as Phil Kocher wrote earlier today, the Blueshirts also have one too many d-men on the right side after acquiring Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox
The Rangers have also decided to not submit qualifying offers to pending restricted free agents Chris Bigras and Brandon Halverson, meaning both are no longer Rangers’ property and will become unrestricted free agents. Halverson was the Rangers’ 59th pick of the 2014 Draft. He has spent most of the last two seasons tending goal in the ECHL with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits and the Maine Mariners. Bigras, 24, was acquired last season when the Rangers sent Ryan Graves to the Colorado Avalanche.
Jeff Gorton said he has spoken to the agents for Jacob Trouba and Chris Kreider. He also said he didn’t qualify RFAs Freddie Claesson, Chris Bigras and Brandon Halverson.— Colin Stephenson (@ColinASteph) June 21, 2019
The remaining restricted free agents were given QOs. Those players are Jacob Trouba, Pavel Buchnevich, Brendan Lemieux, Tony DeAngelo, Vinni Lettieri, and Julius Bergman. The Rangers keep their negotiating rights but still need to agree to contracts with these players. Bergman is expected to play in Sweden next season, but by submitting a qualifying offer the Rangers keep his rights.
Furthermore, Blueshirt Banter’s Adam Herman has some information on John Gilmour, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent.