Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Free Agent Frenzy: New York Rangers

Let's take a quick look at the New York Rangers' major activity so far since the beginning of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, including a couple trades and some signings.

Added: Christopher Higgins, Ryan McDonagh, Enver Lisin (RFA), Ales Kotalik, Donald Brashear, Marian Gaborik, Tyler Arnason, Brian Boyle
Subtracted: Scott Gomez, Lauri Korpikoski, Paul Mara, Nik Antropov, Colton Orr, Fredrik Sjostrom
Re-signed: Ryan Callahan, Corey Potter
Still in limbo: Brandon Dubinsky (RFA), Nikolai Zherdev (RFA), Derek Morris, Blair Betts

It looks like General Manager Glen Sather is re-making the team yet again, but this time for good reason: to have players that fit new head coach John Tortorella's style. There is more optimism for scoring with the additions of Gaborik and Higgins while losing underachiever Gomez and his seemingly devastating cap hit. That trade also brought over the Canadiens' best prospect according to Hockey's Future, McDonagh, albeit another defenseman.

On the flip side, there is reason to be worried about the team's defense and especially the penalty kill because our top pair penalty-killing forwards, Betts and Sjostrom, have left the team. We still have capable players to play there, such as Chris Drury and Callahan, but some others are going to need to step up their games. Trading Korpikoski for Lisin weakened the penalty kill further and was another trade by Coyotes GM Don Maloney to acquire players that he helped draft when he was a member of the Rangers front office. Both players are reportedly threats to sign in the KHL, but Korpikoski quickly signed a two-year deal as an RFA in Phoenix.

The first head-scratching move came shortly after the great trade of Gomez. Orr was expected to be offered a big contract as one of the best enforcers in the league, going to Toronto for four years and $4 million. At the time, it seemed like the team could replace him for cheaper from within, but Sather felt the need to sign Brashear, a hated enemy for many years going back to his Flyers days, to a $2.8 million contract over two years, a cap hit $400,000 higher than Orr's! Ales Kotalik seemed like an underachiever in Buffalo where Lindy Ruff milks a lot of talent out of his unheralded players, so he is a risk at three years and $9 million. Brian Boyle may be the second-biggest bust from the 2003 draft behind Hugh Jessiman, but Sather only gave up a third-round pick in 2010 for the 6'6" center, so I am happy with that. Hopefully for my fantasy dynasty team, Boyle will score some goals and collect some penalty minutes for fighting.

Other moves were minor or expected. Arnason will compete for a spot with the Rangers, but will likely be shown the way to Hartford with a two-way contract, needing to pass through waivers first. Callahan was re-signed for a decent amount as a restricted free agent and will be expected to compete for a spot on the second line and hopefully stick there if Zherdev is not brought back to New York. Potter can serve as the seventh defenseman or a good presence on the Wolf Pack. Antropov's agent wanted too much money, but he is a big body and could be missed. Mara clearly didn't have a place here under Tortorella. Dubinsky is almost a lock to be re-signed and Morris could stay if he takes a big pay cut; I think he will definitely return if Rozsival or Redden is traded as is rumored as part of a package for a number-one center; hopefully, that package will not include Dubinsky.

There is still cap room to play with and at least one move to be made, unless Sather and Tortorella are comfortable with relatively inexperienced centers around captain Drury. Overall, fans should be happy with this offseason's moves but still not expect too much progress with Redden and Drury still on the roster if they continue to vastly underperform their contracts.

No comments:

Post a Comment