Let us start with a simple premise here; just because a free
agent is available does not mean the Rangers need to sign him. This is the time
of the year which reminds me why I prefer covering the prospects fulltime instead
of the Rangers.
No the problem isn’t with the Rangers as they are the mostly
innocent bystanders here but rather it is the group of Rangers fans who as soon
as the Ranger season (or sooner) ends start screaming for the Rangers to sign/trade
for a specific player. What makes it so frustrating is they just never learn
the number one lesson about life which happens to be: It is not how much you
spend but rather how well you spend your money.
The Rangers haven’t even announced that they are going to
use the amnesty buyout on Brad Richards and already there are Ranger fans and
bloggers spending the money they would be saving. Most of them are acting like
that 5 year old in the cereal aisle begging you to buy a cereal you know he
hates but wants it because of the cool toy it has inside.
Most barely do more than look at what position he plays and
what his stats were and it is enough to start begging Glen Sather to sign said
free agent or make a trade. If you doubt that this theory is true then look at
how many people are turning on Rick Nash after years of begging the Rangers to
Rick Nash, Brad Richards, Marion Gaborik, the list is almost
endless but what they have in common is by the time they leave Ranger fans are
blaming Sather for signing the player they wanted.
This year the UFA “Flavor of the Month” is Colorado
Avalanche center Paul Stastny whose 2013-2014 salary was 6.6 million or roughly
67 thousand less than what Brad Richards was making. First off as a player who
is just 28 and coming off a 25 goal season how many people think that Stastny
won’t be looking for a deal in the 7.5 million dollar range?
Second and kind of important here is that the Rangers only
have 13 players under contract for next season with just 17.1 million to spend
that is for a salary cap of 71 million or so. Which current Rangers (notice it
is plural) are you willing to let walk away for just one player who you will
hate within 3 years?
That becomes important for as much as the Rangers will need
to replace Brad Richards there also becomes the need for filling out a full
roster. And here is something for you to ponder about.
The Ranger’s best finish in 20 years and it was also the
first season where Glen Sather did not go out and sign a high priced free
agent. Instead Glen Sather did exactly what was written earlier and that was
get value for his dollars.
Sather filled holes and gave Alain Vigneault the tools he
needed to ice a team. If you have complaints about the team’s best finish in 20
years then odds are you would bitch even if the Rangers won 5 straight cups.
So let’s deal with the current roster first and see what is
left over to spend elsewhere. The salary numbers come from CapGeek.com
Chris Kreider- Qualifying Offer needs to be 850,000 but
Kreider doesn’t have any leverage other than it was the Rangers who basically
wasted 2 years of his Entry Level Contract. 17 goal season in 1st season as a regular and you can see the potential is there for much more. Offer
him a 3-4 year deal that starts him at 2 mil a year and moves him up 500K over
the years but keeps his cap number low.
The prize is Unrestricted Free Agency for Kreider after the
2018-19 season but the Rangers by then will have plenty of money to spend on
their (hopefully) leading scorer.
Derek Brassard and Mats Zuccarello are in a position where
they don’t want a long team deal with both just a year from qualifying for
Unrestricted Free Agency because of their age (27). Sather is going to need to
be creative here if he wants to keep both as Brassard has to be qualified at
3.7 million which was his actual salary for last season.
Brassard has the advantage of coming off a career high in
goals and a 6-6-12 playoff run where his line was the Rangers most consistent. The Rangers
could afford to bump him to 5 million on a 1 year deal but if Brassard has
another good season will be hard pressed to afford him after that.
Zuccarello is a different story money wise as he can be
qualified for only 1.15 million but if the Rangers aren’t careful someone might
wave an offer sheet in front of Zuccarello that has an average salary of under
3.3 million and the Rangers only get a second round pick in 2015 in return if
they don’t match.
The best way to avoid this is to offer Zuccarello a chance
to make up the money he lost in his first NHL contract where Tortorella
basically buried him which cost Zuccarello 850g a year. No lowballs here Glen
please as Zuccarello was one of the most consistent players the Rangers had.
Benoit Pouliot is an Unrestricted Free Agent who had a good
year with Zuccarello and Brassard but he did have a bad habit of taking bad
penalties at the wrong time that almost cost him. Unless Pouliot is insane then
if he really wants a home with the Rangers after being on 4 teams in 4 seasons
then he needs to keep his salary requests reasonable.
Go cap friendly (average salary of 2.5 million) and Pouliot
has a chance to cash in while remaining with the Rangers. A smart player takes
advantage of being on a line that was consistent in both the regular season and
playoffs and has a track record of more than just 1 season. It means down the road the dollars get much bigger.
Dom Moore is a no brainer if he isn’t asking for a long term
deal (IE 5 years) or a bunch of money (cap hit of 3+ is no go) but you keep him
and use him as your penalty killer as well as mentor to your younger players
(Hello J.T. Miller) who need someone to show them how to act and play like
And seriously Moore is a good voice in the locker room that
you might even talk about a job when he stops playing.
Brian Boyle on the other hand really needs to wake up and
realize that if he seriously sees himself as a top 6 forward then someone needs
to show him his last 3 seasons. Boyle took 1 monster season and cashed it in
but since then defense has been what has kept him in the NHL.
His foot speed and his inability to finish (yes he had a good
playoff) but it becomes a different story when you are being defended by the
other team’s better players. Wave good-bye to Boyle who might find someone who
thinks he is worth big bucks but odds are he might be in for a bad case of
Dan Carcillo was a rental who had a couple of good moments
and if he will take modest money (1-1.5 million on 2 years) keep otherwise let him go as
The Rangers should be looking to see if Jesper Fast is NHL
ready, if J. T. Miller has grown up as player and person and perhaps qualify
Danny Kristo for 827G after a 25 goal season in Hartford. If any of those 3 are
looking like legit possibilities for the roster then Glen Sather might not need
to spend a lot of money on free agents.
It worked this past
year and just like defensemen if you see what is heading towards free agency do
you really want to see the Rangers gamble on someone you will wind up booing in