Of the few NHL teams that have promising prospects, rookies, freshman players, sophomore players and have not mortgaged the house by trading picks away, the Rangers look to be in the best shape right now. Other teams that are on the rise (Islanders, Thrashers, Canadiens, Lightning, Preds, Maple Leafs, Hurricanes), Declining teams( Devils, Stars, Sens, Flyers, Coyotes, Blackhawks). Those are just my early predictions for what these organizations look like they will be next season, either less wins for the declining teams and more wins for the rising teams. Okay onto what our next season looks like.
Now sure as Torts said recently "I don't think our team is fully built yet, and i'll be honest, were not there as far as talent", but what does he mean by that? Well, I will tell you what my translation of that is- (Hey we got rid of Redden, traded Rozsival for Wolski, Had guys like EC, Avery, and Wolski show up when ever they wanted to. On top of that Gaborik was hurt, we lost Cally at all the wrong times, our backup goaltender who was suppose to get Lundvquist rest down the stretch got injured, and we still made the playoffs, what more do you want from me?.) As far as the talent thing goes that just comes with time. Look at AA, Step and Boyle. The strides they've taken in their games were amazing this year. Not only that but it looks as Cally and Dubi stepped their games up, when a lot of us thought they hit their ceiling as far as points go.
Now I will take a look at the roster piece by piece and see what Torts and Sather will try and fix going forward.
Lets start between the pipes, since it is the easiest of course. Well the King at full strength is a top 5 goalie in the league and Biron in my opinion has been a top 5 backup until he got hurt. I see no reason to change this unless Biron cannot come back at full strength.
Join me after the jump for more.
Well, onto what I call the hardest decision for our beloved GM to make is one on the blueline.
Well, with Staal, Girardi and McDonough locked up for nest year that leaves 3 important roster spots to fill.
I am undoubtedly sure that they will sign Sauer this year to a contract in the 900k-1.3 million range for a couple of years. He can clear the crease, led the team with a +20 rating and looked great every game. I don't remember a game in which I said "shit what kind of pass was that?", something I have said plenty of time when it came to Gilroy and Del Zotto.
Speaking of Gilroy and Del Zotto, this is where Rangers management get plenty of head aches concerning these two prospects. I still call them that because they show great signs of brilliance in one game and terrible signs of weakness in another. Lets just face the facts who is better? Sure last year that answer was Del Zotto remember, he was suppose to be "the New Leetch" as some people spoke quickly last year after only his freshman season. But has that notion changed between management regarding the two. I still believe that he is the MDZ we saw freshman year but I just hope he can step it up defensively. I think that management signs Gilroy to a two year, 1 million a piece contract as Shapiro put it in response to a Frankiec comment. That number sounds about right. I also believe Torts only has room in his brain for one "OMG WTF Are you doing defenseman", so lets just say one of them will be playing with the team, while the other becomes a press box fan for the year.
Steve Eminger, ahh, what can I say, you win the Paul Mara "at least I didn't screw up that much while I was here award". I like him if you for depth reasons but something tells me he doesn't get resigned next season.
Now if you thought picking between MDZ and Gilroy was hard, try this one on, to-Cabe or not to-Cabe? The McCannon had his moments. You cannot deny smiling when he loads up to take a shot. I know when I see it I am like "finally a Ranger PP QB!". Sure he's no Tom Brady back there, more like a Mark Sanchez, you trust him with somethings, just not everything. Now with that said his speed is not where it used to be, and where it used to be was not what it should have been, if you know where I am going with this. So what to do with him? Hmm, I say resign him, but only at a reasonable price, somewhere in the 2.5-3.5 million range. If he comes at any more you let him walk, I would also add that he is only worth one year.
Are we done with the D? Of course not, you still have Valentenko, who looked good last year during training camp. Tomas Kundratek, Jyri Niemi, and Dylan McIlrath. I dont see us bringing up "the wrath" until another year. He probably has more to learn and I'm pretty sure he has to stay up with us and he cannot go to the Whale given his age, so yeah. I think Valentenko should be ready to go but only time will tell. A lot of these moves are based on what goes on with Brad Richards and the signing of more scoring forwards.
With RFA's Dubinski, Callahan, AA, Boyle and Sauer all do for a raise, our cap is going to be screwed up to say the least. Now I am not going to go into detail on what the terms of the deals should be but lets just say each player I named deserves a 25% increase, at least, from their previous salary.
Now with Gaborik, Avery, Wolski, Drury, the Pope, Stepan, Christensen, Boogaard and MZA signed which of these guys do you try and move? For starters I think they wind up buying out Drury, no unfortunately I doubt he retires. I thought about the 3,333,333 dollars going towards this year, and 1,666,667 going towards next year and I don't think it would bother Sather to do that at this point in time. As for Wolski, I think He gets moved for picks or a prospect. EC is someone I hope they leave on a Whale and never look back. This upcoming year is the year where shoot outs wont matter anymore my blueshirt brethren, that's right I have faith we will win many a times in regulation.
With those three kaput, I think they make a move for Richards and nab him for 6.7 million over 4 years.
Another guy I wouldn't mind taking a look at is Simon Gagne, now his injury history will only drive his asking price down. I think he is a solid left winger to put next to Richards across from Gabby. Giving us a nice solid two lines of those 3 with the BranCalimov line. Again, like with McCabe, no more than 2.5-3.5 should land us a guy like Gagne. If not him someone who can put the puck in the net like him...Cole, Tangauy, Sex panther's Brother, or Glencross come to mind. A nice 27-33 year old vet who can come through in crunch time (ahem...the powerplay) would be nice.
As for other FA's I think Prospal or Feds should definitely return, not both. Although for the right price...im just saying, they do work their asses off.
I think more important than getting FA's, let's stay away from guys that will hog up cap space ... Wisniewski, Jovonovski, Arnott, Connolly, Sturm etc. are what I mean. Also, no offer sheets, I don't care if Parise is out there, let another team give up the house for him.
Let's hope that the long road to the draft is not as boring as it usually is. Hope you guys see what I can see as a great upcoming season for our blueshirts. Any thoughts?