These New York Rangers aren't playing games anymore. Not with John Tortorella at the helm looking over his new empire. His troops need to be faster, they need to have heart, they need to have skill but most importantly they have to want it. This team isn't waiting either.
Cap space is an issue, and they have already started addressing it. Markus Naslund, or Mr. Class as I now refer to him, has decided to retire instead of allow the Rangers to buy him out. Saving the Rangers 2 million dollars against the cap for this year and 1 million dollars against the cap next year. Thank him if you see him on the streets because that is a ridiculously classy thing to do.
The next step is to see what happens to Wade Redden. He did have a pretty good playoffs, minus the Federov incident, but he is way too expensive. He will most likely be bought out during the 15 day buyout period in June, unless they can find a taker. I really would take a 7th round pick for him; they just have to get rid of that contract.
Rozsival, Mara, Morris, Antropov and Naslund (assuming he isn't retiring) all may find themselves wearing a new uniform due to the Rangers cap needs. Here is their contract information:
- Rozsival: 5 million dollars a year for the next 3 years.
- Mara: 1.9 million dollars this year (UFA this June)
- Morris: 3.9 million dollars this year (UFA this June)
- Naslund: 4 million dollars a year (Signed on for 1 more year if he doesn't retire)
- Antropov: 2 million dollars this year (UFA this June)
All of them combined are 16.8 million dollars against the cap. That could leave some wiggle room to sign some of the many RFA's this off season, but it wouldn't be enough.
Update: I figured I would put this here instead of a comment: During the trade deadline Tortorella asked for specific types of players and one of them was someone who was "huge and can score." Antropov fit that mold so they went for him. I would be surprised if the Rangers didn't at least make a pretty serious go at him. Tortorella has liked him, and the Rangers do need a player like him.
The next big question is over Zherdev. The way things sound right now Nik Zherdev will be back in Ranger blue next season. In an interview with Beyond the Blueshirts Nik Zherdev made multiple comments that suggested that he would be back next year. You can see the entire-translated-interview here.
Now I know a lot of you Banter-ers are against bringing back Mr. Zherdev, especially after his lackluster playoffs. But I think that the Rangers should bring him back. He will be 24 once the season starts and while he was 23 last season he had the most points on the Rangers (He was tied with Gomez with 58 points).
Now I want to bring him back, that's right I want him back. He is way too young, and with too much talent, to let him walk away for nothing. Yes sometimes he takes shifts off, and yes sometimes it seems like his heart isn't in it. But who else but Tortorella to whip him into shape; perhaps similar to the way he did it with Vinny Lecavalier. Just give him a chance, 3 years or so, and make it cheap. He didn't have a great year so 2.5-3 million a year should be just fine. Especially if they could bring Antropov back for around the same price, maybe even a little more say 3-3.5. I mean say what you want, but if you let Zherdev walk who do we have that's a scorer? That's what I thought ...
Either way it shakes out it should be exciting. I do love the off season because I love to see how the Rangers re-tool for the next season. Well at least when they do a good job ... More later.