The Rangers need to start thinking seriously about the future of the organization. If Glen Sather and co. were to look at the Colorado Avalanche as a model, they would see that utilizing rookies/ younger players does work if coached properly and allowed to develop. So either Sather fires John Torterella and replaces him with a coach that doesn't switch lines every other shift and is committed to developing his players, or Torts stops being a **** and does it himself.
It's apparent that Torts has no interest in Enver Lisin (who is being Petr-Prucha'd and having his development stunted by being scratched so often, due in no part to his play because the kid works hard) or Matt Gilroy, who is being benched for no discernable reason. I believe the Rangers will allow Lisin to pursue options in free agency, which they should, and Gilroy can be a viable trading piece to other teams. We all saw how Torts antagonized Brandon Dubinsky for missing training camp early in the season, even though he is one of the more talented younger players on the team, and certainly more talented than Ryan Callahan (whom I, and everyone loves, but I calls 'em as I sees 'em.) If you look at some of the higher quality centers in the league, (Savard, Sedin) they all blossomed in or shortly after their 5th years. Why Torts doesnt seem to want to allow Dubinsky to do this is beyond me.
Going into free agency, I think the team needs to make some hard decisions. As effective as Vinny Prospal has been when on the same line as Marian Gaborik, he hasn’t been when without Gabby. Olli Jokinen probably needs to go as he can still command too much salary. As does Lisin because, as I stated earlier, I hate seeing the kid's talent being wasted. Erik Christensen should be re-signed for one year, so after the 2011-12 season, the front office can make a decision on whom they value more between Christensen and Dubinsky.
We all know that Slats will pursue Ilya Kovalchuk, and he should. Our top-6 has to be one of the least talented in the league. The Rangers are one of the few teams that may be able to afford to sign him, and one of the few that Kovalchuk (if the big-market intrigue exists for him) would consider playing for. We all know he isn't going to the KHL, especially after seeing those players first-hand in the Olympics, and reported rumors of Jaromir Jagr and Nikolai Zherdev wanting to return to the NHL. If Kovalchuk isn’t in the plans however, I feel the Rangers need to shift their attention to two specific restricted free agents.
We have a dearth of talent at the wing position, and trying to pry James Neal and Bobby Ryan from their respective teams would give the Rangers the skill at the wing positions that they need. I’m not sure how restricted free agency works, and how the Rangers would have to compensate Dallas or Anaheim with draft picks. If they do have to give up high picks, who cares? I know many Rangers fans lament giving up picks, but both Neal and Ryan are proven scorers, and they are young. Rather than wait for players to develop 2-3 years in the AHL, the Rangers would have two top-6 talents to insert into the lineup for the next 4 or so years. Let’s face it, the Rangers won’t be drafting a high-impact, insert-directly-into-your-lineup player like Kane, Stamkos, Myers, etc.
You may look at the Toronto Maple Leafs (Leaves? Ha...) and how they shot themselves in the foot for Phil Kessel (though their D-corps is f***ing insane). Without Kessel, they would have had Taylor Hall at the No. 2 spot this year. Instead that pick goes to Boston, who will fit Hall quite nicely next to (a concussed, but still fairly awesome) Marc Savard. This wouldn’t happen to the Rangers, because somehow they always force themselves to a mid-level pick, and have yet to draft one that doesn’t pan out to superstardom (a burgeoning Michael Del Zotto notwithstanding). As unlikely as it is that Neal or Ryan would leave their teams, just imagine this lineup
Neal- Christensen- Gaborik
Ryan- Dubinsky- Zherdev
Avery- Drury- Callahan
And yeah, I said it, Zherdev. I don’t care what anyone says, I liked him on Dubinsky’s wing last year. If he is, in fact, looking to get back to the NHL, then the Rangers should sign him.
Anyways, I know this is more than wishful thinking, but crazier things have happened… Like Sather trading Gomez for Gaborik (essentially) and ridding the team of Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins for cap room. And while many fans, especially those on this site, swear that neither Drury, Michal Rosival nor Wade Redden can be moved, you never know. Some of the proposed trades that have been floated are some of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard (someone recently said something about Jarome Iginla…) But some GM out there could make something legit happen for the Rangers.
What direction would you all like to see the Rangers take this offseason?