Thanks to NHL teams being permitted to talk to upcoming free agents before the UFA season officially began at Noon on July 1st, the opening hours of free agency was insane. Over $500-million was spent the first day of open season, and now that the dust has settled it's time to take a look at some of the players who are left.
The New York Rangers made a wealth of moves themselves on day one. We did a comprehensive analysis of all the moves from July 1st already, if you're interested. This is the boiled down version:
Retained: Dominic Moore
Brought in: Dan Boyle, Tanner Glass, significant AHL depth
Lost: Brian Boyle (Tampa Bay), Anton Stralman (Tampa Bay) and Benoit Pouliot (Edmonton)
Now that most of the premier players are off the market -- Mikhail Grabovski was the bell of the ball until the Islanders scooped him up -- it's time for general managers to start sifting through the bargain bin of free agency. Specifically, Glen Sather, who has just over $15-million worth of cap space to retain RFAs Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider and John Moore.
My guess is it will take around $12-million to keep all four of the players listed above. That leaves the Rangers -- save for any other moves -- about three million dollars to play with in terms of bringing in another forward. This is where the bargain bin becomes so effective. In reality, most of the players left come with risks which why they're still looking for homes; but sometimes you find some of the better deals there, too.
Last year, Pouliot was absolutely in this category, and the Rangers scooped him up on a one-year deal and watched him flourish into a quality player. Pouliot was overpaid by Edmonton, but he is the poster-boy for a risk that paid itself off tenfold for the team willing to take a flier on him.
The Rangers are in a similar position this year. They have some money (say $2-million to be safe) to splurge on another forward. Guys like Dustin Penner, Mike Ribeiro, Dany Heatley and Andrei Loktionov are all guys who are available who should be in that price range.
All of them have their positives, but they also carry their own risks. Ribeiro is the best example. He was recently bought out by the Arizona Coyotes (who don't exactly have money to throw around) due to "behavioral" problems. That's the risk. The reward is a guy who can be another added punch to the power play and help chip in points and give you third-line minutes. Risk against reward.
This summer saw the Rangers lose their depth and lose a main part of their dominant third line. A guy like Penner would be a pretty good replacement for Pouliot's production on the third line, but it would leave the depth to be desired. A guy like Loktionov would help replace the team's defensive depth, but wouldn't add as much offense to replace Pouliot. Add Ryan Carter to that list as well. Again, weigh out the options, which one is more important?
Sather does have some options to choose from. Obviously term and cap hit plays a major role here, but the Rangers do have a little room to dance if they want to. That last part remains to be seen, although I would be surprised if the Rangers didn't make another move.
So what are your thoughts on this, guys? Who do you want to see the Rangers go after if anyone?