Mmm... rubbery goodness. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
With so much attention on names like Parise, Radulov, Semin, Nash, Weber, and Suter this offseason there are a lot of players who fly under the radar. Over the next few weeks Kevin Power and I are going to offer some insight about some intriguing players that may be available on the free agent market. The good news? This means we don't have to keep reading about Parise, Nash, Radulov, and Semin. The bad news? Kevin Power and I have no idea what the hell we're talking about 93% of the time.
The purpose of discussing the players Kevin Power and I will be talking about in these stories is not to fix all of the Rangers woes with one or two blockbuster trades or huge free agent signings. We are looking at players who will give the team some depth scoring. We're looking at players who might fly under the radar but, at the very least, are worth thinking about in terms of what they could potentially bring to the Rangers. A lot of these guys may not be sexy names or star players, but often times it is a successful gamble on a guy like Huselius or Latendresse that makes the biggest splash of all. Join me for some of the unusual suspects after the jump...
Huselius, 33, played only 2 games last year for the Blue Jackets due to a groin injury. The year before that Huselius skated in only 39 games for the Blue Jackets due to a high ankle sprain. One might say that Mr. Huselius has had some injury problems. What is intriguing about the Swede is that in those 39 games Huselius still managed to score 14 goals. It is also noteworthy that in his last "healthy" season (two years ago) Huselius scored 63 points, 23 of which were goals.
Huselius’ contract took up $4.75 million of the Blue Jackets cap last year. Due to his injuries and his age he can almost certainly be had for less this offseason. Should the Rangers take a chance on Huselius? Considering the Rangers are looking to replace Gaborik in the lineup for the beginning of next season, it may not be the best idea to bring in another injury-prone winger. However, we have to think about the potential reward of bringing in a bargain player like Huselius who might find himself energized playing with some of the Rangers kids or even with Brad Richards. Think of what Vinny Prospal did with his time in New York, even with his injury problems.
Huselius has benefited from having superstar Rick Nash on his line when he was in Columbus but was no stranger to scoring when he didn’t have Nash on his line earlier in his career. In fact, every single year that Huselius played at least 70 games he scored at least 20 goals. If Huselius can be had on the cheap he might be worth looking into, but only if the Rangers can avoid a multi-year contract and a serious investment in an injury-prone star that is on the wrong side of thirty. Still, Huselius presents an intriguing option to add some depth scoring on the cheap much like Vinny Prospal did a few years ago for the Rangers.
What He Made Last Year: $4.75 mill.
What He Might Demand: If Huselius makes over half of what he made last year I would be genuinely shocked. His vulnerability to major injuries over the past two years should make him a bargain player that will fly under a lot of radars because of his age and his health issues. I doubt that the Blue Jackets bring him back with all the changes and financial concerns that organization has. Vaclav Prospal getting a contract extension almost certainly didn’t bode well for Huselius’ future in Ohio.
Latendresse, 25, is another player who has had his career put in jeopardy due to injury. Latendresse missed most of last season due to a concussion he suffered in mid-November. He’s also had issues with lower-body and groin injuries over the past few years. What makes Latendresse interesting is that he can bring depth scoring to whatever club is willing to give him a chance, and though Latendresse is a restricted free agent he doesn’t believe that the Wild are going to give him a qualifying offer.
Minnesota Wild right winger Guillaume Latendresse is reportedly concussion-free and seeking a new deal with the Wild, but there’s no certainty he’ll get one from them...
"Michael Russo of Startribune.com reported Latendresse’s agent, Pat Brisson, met with Wild GM Chuck Fletcher at the recent draft combine and that they would meet again soon.
Russo believes the Wild will cut the winger loose (allowing him to become a UFA), or re-sign him to a one-year, bonus-laden contract. As Latendresse spent more than 100 days on injured reserve this past season, he qualifies for performance bonuses in his next contract.
If the Wild aren’t willing to re-sign him, another club in need of affordable scoring talent may take a chance."
Over the past two years Latendresse has played only 27 games which should raise a lot of flags about how often he gets injured. However, Three years ago Latendresse played 78 games and split the year between the Habs and the Wild and finished the year with 27 goals (7 of which came on the man advantage. Much like Kristian Huselius, there is no escaping the fact that Latendresse would be a gamble, but his size and relative youth make him a very interesting player if he hits the open market. If Latendresee (sounds so much like "Let’s undress"…) can stay healthy, he may very well be a player that can eclipse the 50 point mark and make a positive impact on the powerplay.
Latendresse has been criticized about his inconsistency, work ethic, and play away from the puck but it seems to me that he is a player that would be galvanized by a coach like Tortorella. Latendresse possesses great instincts in the offensive zone and there is no denying that he has top-six talent. It is also important to note that Latendresse says that he is not experiencing any concussion-like symptoms and is ready to play for next year.
What He Made Last Year: Latendresse’s last contract was a two-year deal with a cap hit of $2.5 mill a year.
What He Might Demand: Although Wild fans were frustrated by Latendresse this year because of his conditioning and his injury woes they all wanted him in the lineup badly. According to The Hockey News, it looks like Latendresse could be had for less than the $5 million he made over two years on his last contract. If the Wild don't come knocking Latendresse could have more than a handful of suitors who are looking to add some scoring into their lineups.