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Rangers Get Bargains, And Boogaard, On Day One
Recapping a busy day for the Rangers

Derek Boogaard signed a four year, $6.6 million deal

Derek Boogaard signed a four year, $6.6 million deal

First of all, we’d like to thank all the fans who listened to our radio show and participated in our chat today.  Fantastic job by you guys, some great points raised, and some really good interaction.


On the first day of free agency the Rangers wasted no time making a flurry of moves.  Less than three minutes after the official start of free agency the Rangers signed goalie Martin Biron, and within the hour they re-signed Erik Christensen.  As the day progressed the Rangers added enforcer Derek Boogaard, officially signed Derek Stepan, and retained the services of Vinny Prospal. 


Breaking it down:


Martin Biron signs for two years, $1.75 million.  Biron had a rough season with the Islanders last season, but in the two years prior he was Philadelphia’s starting goalie and posted respectable numbers.  The Rangers were thought to be interested in Biron and Johan Hedberg to back up Henrik Lundqvist, and either would have been a solid choice.  Both have proven track records and starting experience.  But Biron’s deal is an absolute steal.  He’s a guy who can easily start 20 games for the Rangers this year without the Rangers having to write the games off as losses.  Biron will not only give Lundqvist some valuable rest prolonging his career, but he’s a solid enough goalie in his own right.   The Rangers won’t suffer much with Lundqvist on the bench.  I expected Biron to command in the neighborhood of $1.2 million, so I was thrilled at the cheaper deal he signed for.  Biron was the first free agent signed, and he was a huge bargain. 


Erik Christensen re-signs for two years, $1.85 million.  Though it was nerve-wracking that Christensen was allowed to hit the open market, in the end he stayed a Ranger as Sather thought he would all along.  It seems that Slats and Christensen’s camp were haggling over a couple thousand dollars, but considering the financial hell the Rangers have been in trying to secure bargains or at least fair deals, is a necessary reality.  Christensen performed admirably in his time on Broadway last season after coming over from Anaheim with eight goals and 18 assists.  But Christensen’s real value was the seamless way he fit in with various Rangers forwards, especially Marian Gaborik.  Expect to see Christensen centering Gaborik for much of the season, and considering the Rangers issues with centers who don’t exactly mesh with their wingers (see Gomez, Scott), the Rangers interest in maintaining chemistry was nice to see.


Derek Stepan officially signs.  This was rumored a few weeks ago, but now it’s official.  Stepan, one of the Rangers’ top prospects, will likely end up with the Calgary Hitmen according to Jess Rubenstein.  Stepan is clearly on the fast track to the Rangers, and this should accelerate his development.


Derek Boogaard signs for four years, $6.6 million.  This is where the Rangers surprisingly affordable and productive day fell apart.  Minutes before, the Rangers watched as fan favorite Jody Shelley signed with the hated Flyers for three years, $3.3 million.  Shelley was a fantastic addition both in the locker room and in the lineup, where he had serious chemistry with Artem Anisimov and Brandon Prust.  Sather later said that he was unwilling to give Shelley, 34, a three year deal because of his age and realized he would have to move on.  So the Rangers invested FOUR years in a goon.  Boogaard will not shock Ranger fans with his skill as Shelley did; he has eight points in the last four years.  He is considered one of the most feared fighters in the league, but he only engaged in nine bouts last year.  The Rangers insist on rostering an enforcer every year despite the changes in the NHL that no longer promote heavyweight enforcers.  Players like the un-signed Prust are far more effective.  Not only that but the Rangers have let two superior fighters with additional talents in Colton Orr and Shelley go the past two summers for far cheaper deals than Boogaard received.  And we needn’t even mention the failure of Donald Brashear.  Boogaard’s contract length and dollar amount are completely inexplicable and the deal ruined the day for Rangers fans.


Vinny Prospal re-signs for one year, $1 million + achievable bonuses.  While members of Rangerland gathered their torches and pitchforks, Prospal quietly re-upped with the Rangers for a shockingly affordable price.  There hadn’t been much to report on a possible return for Prospal to the Rangers leading up to the day, but in the end it’s clear he loved his time in New York and was willing to return for a major discount.  There’s no doubt Prospal could have received more on the open market, but anybody who watched him last year could see the enthusiasm and joy he felt playing for the Blueshirts.  Despite reports that Prospal only gave it his all in his career during contract years, it’s obvious that money isn’t everything to the tanned-man.  Still, it doesn’t hurt the Rangers that Prospal signed for just one year, meaning he will need a new contract next summer, and then it won’t likely come from the Rangers.  Also, anytime you can give a guy an incentive-laden deal it makes sense to do so because there will be no shortage of motivation. 


Summing it up.  The Boogaard deal was a major blemish on an otherwise successful day.  There’s just no reasonable logic to the signing and it seems like this is another move everyone around the league is laughing at, though it’s not quite as bad as the Flames re-acquiring Olli Jokinen.  Still, the shorter deals for the offensive forwards, two years for Christensen and one year for Prospal, means the Rangers may actually be committed to keeping spots open for Chris Kreider, Ethan Werek, Derek Stepan, Evgeny Grachev, and the rest a year or two from now.  Certainly Sather has time to mess that up in the coming days, but this is a good sign.  The Biron signing was a slam dunk.


What’s next?  The Rangers aren’t done.  Are they ever?  Tomorrow hopefully the Rangers will re-sign Prust, Marc Staal, and Dan Girardi.  Realistically Staal may take a little longer, but those three will likely be Sather’s priority tomorrow.  Externally, expect the Rangers to keep the phones churning, but they’ll be limited until they figure out their own free agents.  They may test the waters on the free agent market, and it’s possible that they’ll look at another forward tomorrow.  There are still some intriguing names out there, and it wouldn’t be a shock if the Rangers went after Alex Frolov or Matt Lombardi.  It’d be a bit surprising if they signed a defenseman outside the organization, and if they did it’d likely be a cheap veteran like Willie Mitchell.  But again, the Rangers must make decisions on their own free agents before doing anything else outside the organization.  

Posted by Kevin Baumer | July 2, 2010 at 12:49 am

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