GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The New York Rangers had their final meetings before parting ways for the offseason Tuesday. Some players are staying around the area for a little bit before going home. Most are heading out. All are still feeling empty inside, disappointed and frustrated.

The Rangers won 65 games this season, including a franchise record 55 in the regular season. They won the Presidents' Trophy with 114 points, also a franchise record. They played into the Eastern Conference Final, to Game 6, two wins away from the Stanley Cup Final.

But that doesn't mean they feel they were a successful team or it was a successful season, not by the measuring stick they use.

"There's a goal at the beginning of every year and that's to win the Stanley Cup," Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. "You work hard the entire year to build something to put yourself in a position to achieve that goal, reach that accomplishment. So by that standard, the season was not successful, it felt short of where we wanted to be."

As empty as they are after losing Game 6 to the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Saturday, their third one-goal loss of the series, the Rangers also parted ways Tuesday with confidence that they are close to where they want to be.

"There's a lot of teams that I've been on that you hope," captain Jacob Trouba said. "I think hope and belief are two different things, and I think this team had more of a belief than a hope. That's what you want. You want everyone in here believing we can win. I think we do. Come back and give it another crack next year. I think it's all here. I think it's in this room."

Some of the pieces in the room will change before next season. It won't be the same, but the Rangers are right to go into the offseason with optimism that they have the foundation they need and can build on it.

They do, however, still have questions to answer and areas to improve.

Here are five things to watch in the Rangers’ offseason.

1. Shesterkin's next contract

Igor Shesterkin has one year remaining on his four-year, $22.66 million contract ($5.667 million average annual value) that he signed on Aug. 9, 2021. He is eligible to sign a contract extension on July 1.

The Rangers have to get that done with Shesterkin at some point before next season begins to avoid questions about the goalie's future in New York.

Shesterkin wouldn't address his contract when asked about it Tuesday, saying instead, "I don't speak English." He speaks English, so that's his way of saying no comment.

Rangers general manager Chris Drury is expected to address the media Thursday or Friday. He likely will be asked about getting Shesterkin's next contract done this summer. He likely won't say anything definitive either, but make no mistake, this is a priority for the Rangers.

NHL Tonight discusses offseason outlook for Rangers

2. Finding a right wing for Zibanejad and Kreider

If the Rangers plan is to keep center Mika Zibanejad and left wing Chris Kreider together on a line, as they have been for years, a priority this summer has to be finding a right wing that fits best with them.

It's been a revolving door for players on that line in the three seasons since Pavel Buchnevich was traded to the St. Louis Blues, and this season it came to a head because the Rangers never quite had two full top lines despite Vincent Trocheck, Artemi Panarin and Alexis Lafrenière forming a dynamite second line that produced like a top line.

Zibanejad said in the past a player who is more of a passer has worked well with them because both he and Kreider are shooters. Maybe the best fit in that mold was Mats Zuccarello before he was traded on Feb. 23, 2019.

The search for the right fit will continue this summer. A solution is needed.

3. Kakko's future

Kaapo Kakko is a pending restricted free agent and even though he was the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, he is a candidate to be traded if the Rangers want to shake things up. He's coming off a two-year, $4.2 million contract ($2.1 million AAV), and his second season on that deal was worse than his first.

Kakko had 19 points (13 goals, six assists) in 61 games this season and just two points (one goal, one assist) in 15 games in the playoffs. He was a healthy scratch for Game 4 against the Panthers in the conference final. He had 40 points (18 goals, 22 assists) in 82 games last season.

"I've got to figure out a better way to get him involved," Laviolette said. "I think there's responsibility with what he brings to the table and what he brings to the game. Next year is a new year. I do think that he has the ability to be a top-six forward."

Kakko, though, got an opportunity to be that this season. He was put on a line with Zibanejad and Kreider, but they did not produce together.

He said he wants to stay and figure it out, but it's unclear if he will get that chance.

4. Possible new roles for Lafreniere, Trouba

Lafreniere found a home as a top-six right wing and if he doesn't start next season on a line with Trocheck and Panarin, it'll only be because of something unforeseen happening.

That was the Rangers' best line all season, playoffs included, and Lafreniere had a big breakout being a part of it. He set NHL highs across the board with 28 goals, 29 assists and 59 points in 82 regular-season games, and then posted eight goals, six assists and 14 points in 16 playoff games.

"I think he's a superstar in the making," Trocheck said.

To get him there he is going to need to play more, which might mean finding a way for him to get on the top power-play unit. And, of course, that would mean breaking up a group that has been together for two years.

Kreider, Zibanejad, Trocheck, Panarin and defenseman Adam Fox have made up the top power-play unit. New York had the third-best power play in the regular season (26.4 percent) and was red-hot in the playoffs through the first six games (40.0 percent), but then it went cold, going 2-for-25 in the last nine games, including 1-for-15 in six games against the Panthers.

That should be enough of a reason to at least explore changes on the power play. Lafreniere averaged 1:17 of ice time on the power play in the regular season and 1:18 in the playoffs.

"He was an impact player for us," Laviolette said. "Certainly, we'd like to see that grow next year as he takes on more responsibility. We're hoping he'll be better next year."

It might be the opposite for Trouba, who could be an $8 million third-pair defenseman next season if the Rangers feel Braden Schneider is a better long-term fit in a second-pair role with K'Andre Miller.

Trouba and Miller were together for most of the season, but when Trouba left the lineup March 9 because of a broken ankle, Schneider was elevated.

Laviolette liked what he saw and eventually went back to using Schneider and Miller together in the last two games of the regular season. That stuck until Game 6 against the Hurricanes in the second round, when Trouba and Miller reunited.

But by Game 5 of the conference final, it was back to Schneider with Miller and Trouba with Erik Gustafsson.

The question is can the Rangers afford to have an $8 million third-pair defenseman even if that player is also their captain?

It's a tough question to answer and one Drury is no doubt wrestling with.

5. Pending free agents

The Rangers have five pending unrestricted free agents in forwards Alex Wennberg, Jack Roslovic and Blake Wheeler, and defensemen Gustafsson and Chad Ruhwedel. Wennberg, Roslovic and Gustafsson each said he would like to re-sign, but decisions will come down to fits and remaking the roster around the core players.

Wheeler said he is contemplating retiring. Ruhwedel was the Rangers' eighth defenseman after being acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 8. His future is not a front-burner topic.

In addition to Kakko, defenseman Ryan Lindgren and Schneider are pending restricted free agents.

Lindgren said he does not envision any issues in coming to an agreement with the Rangers on a new contract. He is coming off a three-year, $9 million contract ($3 million AAV) he signed on May 10, 2021.

Schneider is coming off his three-year entry-level contract and does not have arbitration rights. It's possible he ends up with a two-year bridge contract. That's what happened with Kakko and Lafreniere when they were coming off their three-year entry-level contracts.

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