Report: Rangers out on Thornton and Marleau

After the New York Rangers announced their signing of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to a four-year, $26.6 million contract, Bob McKenzie reported that the Rangers are no longer pursuing unrestricted free agents Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton.

Thirty-seven year-old Thornton (who turns 38 tomorrow) just completed his three-year, $20.25 million contract with the San Jose Sharks. Marleau’s three year, $20 million contract expired as well. While both are older options, they could have provided the Rangers with short-term forward depth while they develop talent for the future.

Since the Rangers signed Shattenkirk though, their abundance of cap space shrunk. As it stands, they have $8.35 million available in cap space available with only nine forwards, eight defensemen, and two goaltenders signed. The Rangers may get $2.9 million in cap relief if Kevin Klein does in fact retire from the NHL.

Still, the Rangers have to re-sign pending restricted free agents Mika Zibanejad and Jesper Fast within those cap restraints, as well as acquire more forwards – particularly at center.

Because of that, signing Thornton and Marleau, who could possibily only be acquired as a package deal, is no longer within the realm of possibilities for the Rangers.

With Ondrej Pavelec signed as the backup goaltender, plus Brendan Smith and Shattenkirk signed on the blueline, the Rangers team looks to be coming together. The most crucial gap left to fill is down the middle, as they only have Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes as it stands – unless J.T. Miller is shifted back to center. The center options available on the market are dwindling as free agency progresses, so the Rangers will either have to react accordingly or explore trade options.