As expected, the rumor mill is starting to pick up its pace a little as we get closer and closer to the open season that is free agency. Yesterday I outlined three potential targets the Rangers might be looking at to replace Brad Richards. (Spoiler: they're buying him out.) (Second spoiler: It happened.)
After I wrote the article, rumbles came out of San Jose that Joe Thornton, in fact, might not want to move (doesn't it always work that way). This is after some speculated Thornton had told Doug Wilson that New York was the only destination he had in mind.
Spector's Hockey posted a rumor compilation this morning including this little tidbit from an ESPN article (paywall):
ESPN.COM: If the New York Rangers use their remaining compliance buyout on Brad Richards, Craig Custance speculates they could use some of the savings to pursue Paul Stastny, Dan Boyle and Mikhail Grabovski via free agency.
This obviously makes some sense, especially if Thornton is off the table. A lot of you have screamed for Grabovski since the Toronto Maple Leafs bought him out last summer. He makes sense in terms of money (he's going to be much cheaper than Stastny) although he wouldn't be brought in to be the team's number one center. He would solidify the Rangers down the middle, however, with Stepan continuing to be the top center (which I don't have a problem with).
Grabovski at least allows the Rangers a little more cap flexibility to bring back all their RFAs and as many UFAs as they can. Anton Stralman and Brian Boyle continue to be mentioned as players who won't be returning for different reasons. Stralman wants "security" (read: money and term) the Rangers might not want to provide, and Boyle wants a bigger role Alain Vigneault will not provide. It's not that much of a stretch to see those two suiting up for different teams next year.
In that vein, the Dan Boyle rumors do make a little sense. Boyle would never be able to replace Stralman's defense, but he does bring offense form the blue line the Rangers lack. He's a guy who would instantly improve the power play and he's got a slew of playoff experience.
The problem with Boyle is that his contract will be a 35+ contract, which means his cap hit remains on the cap regardless of retirement. The New York Islanders (who traded for his rights and could not sign him) offered him a two-year deal he turned down. There was some speculation he wanted to sign with a contender, so it might be possible he'll take a one-year deal but the price has to be right. There is risk with a player in the 35+ zone, but that risk is mitigated with a one-year deal.
Stastny is the real wild card here. I still think he can get a deal near $8-million in free agency, and I do think he's the flashy name Glen Sather loves to go after. But I do think Sather realizes how important the depth of this team is (look at last year's summer acquisitions) and how important it is to keep as much of this core together as they can. I'm not sure they can do that with Stastny.
Anyway, things are going to start getting interesting soon. Thoughts on all this?