Did we get worse this season? Was it a step back? Yes. The question is though, why? What went wrong?
The biggest reason why the Rangers took a tumble this season was because of the injury of Marc Staal not because of any significant trade that was made. Marc Staal when healthy is our most valuable asset besides the King in nets. Rangers biggest injuries came at the worse times during the regular season. I remember at last the team was starting to finally get it together, and then Rick Nash gets injured for about 4-5 games. In those 4-5 games we were atrocious and I believe we only managed to squeeze out 1 point. Eventually Rick Nash came back and our team started cruising along again for a little while, but then out of nowhere a puck goes flying into Marc Staal’s eye. At that time we were playing our best hockey. A brutal injury. The team went on a cold streak again after that.
So what we saw this year was that when we got a bad injury the Rangers lacked a lot of the depth that we used to have the previous season. We also lost character. It seemed like last year it didn’t matter who got injured, we still were able to always compete and find ways to win. I think Sather realized that we lacked some depth and character so he pulled out a blockbuster trade deadline move to fix the depth up. Acquiring Derek Brassard, Derek Dorsett, and John Moore for Marion Gaborik. A controversial trade but a trade I particularly liked for this season and especially for the upcoming seasons.
So what now? What to do this off season to fix up the lackluster powerplay, the depth, and mainly the scoring? Also now we will have a new coach, who do we hire?
Now to the main subject of this thread... Here are my off season thoughts as to what I think we can do to have a bounce back year and compete for the Stanley Cup once again.
Step 1 - Do we buyout Brad Richards or not?My answer is. Yes. 100%. This has nothing to do with me thinking that Brad Richards cannot come back next season and play much better, because I believe next year he will have a much better season as he will be motivated to. He will have a lot to prove. But the thing is I think his best days are over and that he will not be nearly worth the 6.66M that he will be earning. From what I see, he just doesn’t fit in this roster any longer. He is now a 3rd line center on this Ranger club, no better. There is no way he can play up to Brassard or Stepan’s level. Brassard and Stepan will be the two centers getting the big minutes, not Brad Richards. Tortorella is now gone, and Richards should be gone too now. I rather only 1.7M count on the salary cap hit than 6.66M for Brad Richards. This is a no brainer for me.
Step 2 – Who do we hire as head coach? It’s between 4 guys it seems at this very moment. Dallas Eakin, Alain Vigneaut, Dave Tippett or Mark Messier. I gave this some thought of who I’d like to see behind the Ranger bench. In the end, I believe three out of these four are top notch coaches, and the other one is NOT even a coach. But yet when I think about it, Messier (the Moose) being behind the bench as the head coach of the New York Rangers gives me well... chills, goosebumps, it’s like a dream, whatever you want to call it… It’s something that just feels right that he should be the guy that we want to win with. He should be given the chance for all that he’s done for this organization. If he feels he can handle the job, he should get it. Let him have the chance to prove us wrong before doubting him. He’s a leader, a true Ranger, he bleeds blue. Does Alain Vigneault bleed blue? Does Tippett bleed blue? Hell no. None of these other candidates are true Rangers at heart. Not even close. Not saying they wouldn't make a good coach but screw them, I say. Mess is the guy I want to win with, and I believe I want a true Ranger behind the bench if that opportunity is there. The players would play hard for him and I believe he can make a good coach.
- I sign Messier as head coach, along with 2 new assistants with at least one of them having experience as being a head coach in the past to help Messier out.
Step 3 – RFAs Zuccarello, Hagelin, McDonagh, Stepan, Sauer. Who returns, who goes?
- Hagelin I sign to what I expect will be around 2.5-3M. - Stepan I sign to what I expect will be around 4-4.5M.
- McDonagh I sign to what I expect will be around 4-4.5M.
- Zuccarello I don’t sign. Nothing against the guy, he is a great hockey player I just believe there’s better options out there for the New York Rangers. Rangers need to go a different direction.
- Sauer I have no idea on his condition. If there’s any way he’s okay to play I’m sure he’d take a low earning contract.
Step 4 – UFAs
Clowe, Hamrlik, Eminger, Gilroy. Same question as RFAs. Who returns, who goes? - Clowe is the same deal as Zuccarello. I think this guy is a good hockey player to have on your team it’s just I believe there’s better ideas Rangers can do.
- Hamrlik. Bye. Nice knowing you and your give away.
- Eminger I bring back for another year as long as it’s between .750K-.850K.
- Gilroy. Nice knowing you for a second time. There won’t be a third.
Step 5 – Henrik Lundqvist.
It’s the last year on his contract. I don’t want him ever getting the opportunity to leave this team. I do my best to make him happy letting him know there will be upcoming changes that will be made and I make sure I sign him to a long term extension worth around 7M a season . We got to give Lundqvist something to look forward to, he deserves it.
Step 6- Free agency.
There’s a lot of different directions Rangers can go with this year’s free agency. There’s not much superstar talent out there, but there is a lot of depth on offense that can be had. After some thinking, Rangers got young guys like JT Miller, and Oscar Lindberg who definitely should be on the roster next season as depth players considering they won’t cost much at all towards the cap. So the direction I went with after knowing that I want these 2 young forwards making the club next year... I decided to sign only 2 players. 1 being a forward and 1 being a defenseman…
- Sign Nathan Horton to 3 years worth 5M a season.
Here are my thoughts on why Nathan Horton. The guy officially is a winner and has playoff experience with the Boston Bruins. He won a Stanley cup and was a major reason why Bruins won the cup, and if they win it again this season he will AGAIN be a big reason why. He’s shown to be a player that steps up when it counts. He’s a big guy which we do lack on the wing, we need to get bigger on the wing. He has a great shot which we also lack big time (shooters.) All in all, he’s just a good hockey player, and to me, this is the exact type of winger we do need for next season. Plus we wouldn’t have to trade a soul to get him. So why not sign him? He’s still young, only 28, and would fit in our future plans for the next 3 years.
- Sign Mark Streit to 2 years worth 4.2M a season.
This signing is mainly made because of our powerplay. It’s so much easier to win with a good powerplay. It needs to be fixed and I believe without bringing in a dynamic powerplay player it will not fix much at all even with a new coach. Streit knows how to get it done on the powerplay. He’s done it for years. He’s one of the best quarterback powerplay defenseman in the game. There’s no question he would help our powerplay big time. He would do what Richards was supposed to do. He is an extremely smart player on the powerplay, with a shot that gets through. Bringing him in for 2 years would be make sense. Especially with him living in New York for the past few years this would make sense for Streit to sign with the New York Rangers as well.
Step 7 – Trades.
Sam Gagner’s name has been out there in trade talks for a few years now. Rangers need to acquire another center after buying out Richards. They can either sign Weiss or Bozak or Roy or go after this guy. I would strongly go after this young centerman who can also play RW. He’s an RFA this season and I do not think he will be in Edmonton’s future plans. With all the young talent they already have on offense, I don’t believe Oilers will have room to lock up Sam Gagner long term, so they will look to deal him off. I believe they will trade Sam Gagner this off season to acquire defense help. Edmonton Oilers need defense.
TRADE: To Edmonton: Michael Del Zotto (2.55M), Pyatt (1.5M), prospect McIlrath, and a 4th round pick. To New York Rangers: Sam Gagner (who I believe will cost 3.2-4M as an RFA.)
After signing Mark Streit, there would be room to move out Del Zotto along with Taylor Pyatt who doesn’t make my team below here unless there’s an injury. Mcilrtath and the 4th to me is what makes the deal equal. It’s a trade that makes sense for both clubs. Del Zotto can fit in well with a young group in Edmonton and Sam Gagner can fit in well with the Rangers. This deal CAN happen. But if not, then perhaps we’re not able to sign Mark Streit and we end up keeping Del Zotto and sign either Weiss or Bozak who will probably earn more than Sam Gagner will. I prefer Sam Gagner over them who has a bright future ahead.
Additions: Horton, Streit, Gagner, Lindberg, Messier. Subtractions: Richards, Del Zotto, Pyatt, Clowe, Zuccarello, Tortorella.
2013- 2014 NEW YORK RANGERS LINEUPWith predicting how much each RFA and UFA will make this upcoming year, and using capgeek for players already under contract. * means UFA or RFA.
Rick Nash (7.8M) – Derek Brassard (3.2M)- Nathan Horton *(5M)
Carl Hagelin *(2.5M)- Sam Gagner *(3.3M)- JT Miller (.525k)
Oscar Lindberg (.175k)– Brian Boyle (1.7M)- Derek Dorsett (1.633M)
Marc Staal (3.975M) – Ryan McDonagh *(4.2M)
Dan Girardi (3.325M) - Mark Streit *(4.2M)
John Moore (.125k) – Anton Stralman (1.7M)
Henrik Lundqvist (6.875M)
Martin Biron (1.3M)
Head coach: Mark Messier
Forwards to play if injuries: Asham, Newbury, Powe, Haley. Defense to play if injuries: Eminger, Bickel, Allen.
+Richards buyout 1.7M
SALARY CAP SPENT – 62.633M CAP LIMIT – 64.3M REMAINING ON CAP – 1.667M
All I can promise you win the cup or not, this team would be a TON of fun.