We have had a lot of different plans proposed for next year and I have thrown around ideas at different times, but now might be as good a time as any to take a look into what the Rangers could look to do for next year because the run they have just made has cemented a few things regardless of tomorrow's outcome. The fact they made the run to get a shot to play their way in to the postseason means Torts will be back next year regardless (probably would have been anyway) and that it will be Sather's choice to come back or not. It also means that chances of the really high pick many of us thought might be better for the club in the long run (coupled with the hopeful changes ie Sather it would have created) is gone and we are looking at 10-12 or 15-17 as a pick for next year depending our game tomorrow as well as Boston, Montreal, Dallas and Anaheim. Details of all the moves after the jump.Current Roster
I guess I will start my moves with my take on the players that are already here in terms of players with contracts coming up this summer.
Players to Keep
As I said in another thread I would look to re-sign EC, Prust, Shelley and Girardi while letting Olli and Vinny walk. I assume it doesnt need to be said, but I guess I will in the interest of being thorough signing Marc Staal long term. I have pondered before giving him one of those lifetime type deals and I still would but not sure he would take it, so I would shoot for a minimum of 4 years and Letang's salary has to be a bench mark for me, so 4/14, 6/21 seem about right. For EC he has shown flashes of brillance, especially passing the puck, and has the ability with a full season to be approximately a 40 point scorer for us and I would look at something like a 2 year 1-1.2 mil per year contract. On Prust, we knew when he came that he was gritty grinder type who was tough and willing to go with anyone, but what we have also seen is that he has some scoring touch and ability to chip in offensively and if he can get say 10 goals and 25-30 points in a year that's great for the other things he can bring. I would look to lock him up 2-3 years for maybe 900K a year which is a nice raise over his current 500K salary. Jody Shelley has brought some energy and intimidation to the point he has had to fight as much as he is capable of and obviously the line of Prust-AA-Shelley has been maybe the biggest key to this late season run as they are the only line that has brought it in every game. 1 year maybe 850K should be about right for Shelley. Of the skaters the last I would keep would Dan Girardi. Based on some perceptions that he has had a down year this year might help us in terms of the amount of money it will take to keep Danny G this summer. Girardi is not flashy but he is consistent, takes the body and easily a top 4 d-man in this league and you dont let those walk away at 25. I would keep Danny G and let him go back to playing with Staal next year, probably another 2 year deal for around 2.25 mil per year.
The only other pl-ayer to consider keeping would be Auld who could probably be kept around for another year at 1 mil and while I personally think Chad Johnson is good enough to be an NHL goalie right now, it is better for him to stay in Hartford and continue to play consistently in his development than sit on the bench watching Hank. I do think the Rangers need to finally play the back up 15-20 times next year or they are going to burn Hank out, problem is every year they get into a similar scenario to where we are now that we need huge runs at the end of the year to just get in.
Players to let Walk
The obvious one to let walk is Olli and I dont see many who will disagree with that because if he comes back it will be for more than he is worth and we dont need to be relying on inconsistent players anymore. Might as well get younger and cheaper. While I personally dont agree with it I assume that we will let Lisin walk and i think it is better for him to go somewhere and get a chance to play consistently and Torts obviously isnt going to give him that. The one that will probably cause the most conflicting opinions will be Vinny Prospal. Let me state upfront that I love how hard Vinny plays and the leadership he can bring to the club along with the overall production that he has brought this season for us. Let me contrast that though with the fact that Vinny is going to be 35 next year, has alternated good and mediocre seasons the last number of seasons and has cooled off significantly as the season went on with 10 points in the 19 games since the Olympic break and I view that as more indicative of what he would be putting up next year. I wouldnt hate it if they brought him back for 1 year at less than 2 mil, but any longer term or more dollars isnt something that would really benefit us from my perspective.
Personally I am not a big fan of the unrestricted free agency class especially on the offensive side, so there isnt anyone that rally wows me in going after and I say that because Marleau and Plekanec are going to get overpaid based on career years and Kovy wants too much money. On the defensive side I know there is a large contingent here that wants Volchenkov and I understand the attraction because he blocks shots and hits, also does something we havent had much of in clearing the crease. Personally I am not one who wants to go and pay another D-man upwards of 5 mil especially when he misses 15 plus games a year and we need to look no further than Komisarek's deal to see how badly the long term deals for physical d-men can go. If I was going to go after a ufa d-man this summer it would probably be either Dan Hamhuis or underrated Dennis Seidenberg as they should get less money than Anton and are equally good imo. Seidenberg for 2 years and 2.5-3 mil would be excellent value for us and give us another minutes eater as a top 4 d-man.
Now while I am not a big proponent of this year's UFA class the RFA class is excellent. The obvious huge names are out there but I dont expect Backstrom, Bobby Ryan, Erik Johnson to get away from their teams and the same goes for slightly lower guys like Pavelski and Sam Gagner. Players I would look to target would be with the tams that have either had money issues in the past or have stated they are looking to keep costs down which leads me to PHX, COL and DAL who have 4 RFA's I would love to bring in here.
Wojtek Wolski (PHX): his talent has never been in question, but consistency has sometimes be under scrutiny, but that seems to have changed to a degree this year. He has 23G 41A this season split between COL and PHX (6G 11A in 17GP since the trade). In his now 4 full seasons he has scored at least 42 points each year with this being his potential breakout year to being a consistent 60 point guy. Wolski has the speed and playmaking ability to be a perfect leftwinger for Gabby to play with. I dont know if PHX would let him go, but they have obviously had their money issues, so I dont know how they will work out this summer.
James Neal (DAL): Neal is the type of guy we have been looking for around here for years as he is the pure power forward with 27G 28A this season. In Ranger comparison he could be a Graves type player, but Shane Doan is a comparison I might make in terms of a current player he could be and he will only be 23 this fall. If I was Dallas there is no way he gets away, but as stated in the Ribeiro thread they are looking to limit salary to only 45 mil next year and while they should be able to keep Neal and do that, it is a guy I would definitely target. Add Neal to Dubinsky if they leave him at LW and we will have two big physical young left wingers next year.
Chris Stewart (Col): Stewart would be one of those guys who I would nominate for the most underrated player in the game type category as he has 28G 36A this season and he doesnt get talked about nearly enough. 6-2 230 lb RW with excellent has great hands for a big man, can be on the ice in all situations, soft hands make him a player with huge upside. Colorado has plenty of mony they could spend this summer so he would be hard to get I would assume, but Colorado has said repeatedly it wanted to cut costs, so I dont know what they are looking to spend.
Peter Mueller (Col): This is a player that we have obviously talked about before since we were connected to him a number of different times in his PHX days. He has been an underachiever the last couple of seasons in PHX after the tremendous rookie year but since the trade to Col he was rejuvenated with 9G 11A in 15GP for colorado. The concern for me right now is how serious is the concussion he just got. The talent is undeniable and he is only going to be 22 this month.
Obviously the way RFA works that if we signed any of these guys we would have to give up picks as compensation and normally I wouldnt be too keen on that idea especially with how we have drafted the last couple years but all of these guys are very young and have proven they can be legit secondary scoring options in the 60+ point range (mueller being most questionable). The reason I am feeling slightly differently is because for much of this season other than the 3 big winning stretches this team has been pretty awful but with guys like Hank we will never be bad enough to get that lottery pick that can turn a franchise around so the risk we have is not in being like toronto ends up this year where they gave away basically the 2 pick, along with a 2nd and next years first for Kessel because we arent ever going to be bad enough to end up below 10th. Now in at least a few of these cases based on last years compensation chart we could potentially get them for a 2nd round pick where the cutoff was 3.013 mil per year. Now the next level is a 1st-3rd $3,013,434 to $4,520,150. The other line of thinking is that if we signed a signed a Seidenberg along with keeping Girardi we are looking at a scenario where in all likelihood either Gilroy or Sangs wouldnt make the club next season so they could be used as trade bait along with a pick to get the rights to one of these guys and not worry about matching or the stated compensation.
Also let me state that for one of these moves to happen it would likely require a dropping of Redden to the minors which I am always hopeful for, but can no longer count on eventually happening. The other would be that rozi has played well enough of late that he could have some trade value both to a team in need of a veteran d-man but also interested in a player with a larger cap hit than actual salary. If Redden is still here then that obviously limits moves, kills the chances of a Seidenberg type move along with causing other type moves to stay under the cap.
Since I started this Boston has won so the Rangers can currently finish no higher than 7th in the East which would equate to the 16th pick in the draft. If the Rangers lose tomorrow they would pick 10 or 11. If that is the spot they end up the obvious hope is that Nino would still be around and based on a lot of the rankings and mocks I have seen that is more possible than I think it should be. There are 3-4 other players I would target in these areas if Nino is gone as I am leery of Russians somewhat and no Kabanov after all the recent controversy should not be considered and probably wont even go in the 1st couple rounds now despite his talent
Ryan Johansen 6' 3" 190lb Center who plays with Nino in Portland (where Dubi came from) of the WHL. He had 25G 44A in 71 games during the regular year and 5G 10A in 11 playoff games. Ryan is big and has a smooth skating stride now as he has grown into his body. Excellent passer, strong on the puck and has the ability to play through contact shielding the puck. He has outplayed Nino the 2nd half of the year and will only turn 18 last day in July. I have seen names like Getzlaf and Joe Thornton thrown around with this kid and while like with most comparisons it is unfair but the potential is definitely thre.
Emerson Etem 6" 194lb center who plays with another ranger prospect Kundratek for Medicine Hat in the WHL. He is getting more hype later in the year and has 37G 28A in 72GP and 6G 3A in 11GP in the playoffs. Etem has an unusual stride but also it is very effective at least at this level as he has excellent speed and burst. Only worry for me is he isnt all that physical.
Derek Forbort: 6' 4" 200lb American d-man who is just really hitting his stride. Redline said,
Forbort is still raw, as he was playing Minnesota high school hockey just last year. But he has come so far, so fast in his first half season with the U.S. National U-18 Team. And with his size, strength, skating ability, and physical tools, Forbort may just present the highest upside of any defender in this class.
Sign Ryan McDonagh as soon as tonight's Championship game is over and give him a shot to make the club next year, but probably start the season at Hartford and he could be up by New Years. The kid is ready and he has the combination of speed, some offense and nastiness we have been longing for. Stepan probably stays in school unless he wins the title tonight in which there is no real reason to go back to Wisconsin in which case he could sign, go to Hartford and work with Grachev next year. Kundratek should get an EL contract and go to Hartford, Klassen comes over and probably goes to Hartford next year.
Projected roster with prescribed moves.
Gabby (7.5), Dru (7.05), Hank (6.875) Rozi (5), Staal (3.5) Wolski/Neal (3), Seidenberg (3), Cally (2.3), Girardi (2.25), Aves (1.938), Dubi (1.85), Gilroy (1.75), EC (1.1), MDZ (1.0875), Auld (1) Voros (1), Prust (.900), Shelley (.850), AA (.822), Boyle (.550). that is 20 guys with 3.7 mil to spare on the cap. Vinny for 1.5 and im ok with that and maybe PA for 750K. We would have space and some expiring deals to sign dubi and cally long term next summer.
Should be better and more consistent than this year's club, while not jeopardizing anything in the future. Following year we should have Grachev, Stepan, McDonagh all ready with Werek, Kundratek, and Kreider on the way along with hopefully Nino or Johansen. Stepan and Grachev step in for Prospal and PA/Boyle. Future is very bright if we dont shoot ourselves in the foot any more.
Sorry this turned out to be so long and for those that read all of it, thank you, you are free of reading for the weekend and go demolish a cheesesteak.