Editor's Note: Keep or Dump is an annual off-season tradition where we analyze UFA and RFA players who the Rangers need to make a decision on. The premise is as simple as it seems: Keep or dump the player in question.
In what's eventually going to be an ever-evolving discussion about team loyalty, Dominic Moore's name is somehow going to get lost in the shuffle. While people yell and scream about how the Rangers can't leave Dan Girardi or Marc Staal for dead, Moore is most likely going to be allowed to walk to a new team via free agency.
After signing a two-year, $3-million deal -- as the sole returning member of 2014's brilliant fourth line -- Moore was expected to anchor the Rangers' bottom six as he had during the Stanley Cup run. He did all that and more (pardon the pun), even though Alain Vigneault seemed less than impressed by him during parts of this year.
That does confuse the situation, however, especially since the Rangers are re-branding this year. Let's break down the Moore situation.
Moore is 35 turning 36-years-old this summer. As a bottom-line player who is required to play a very defensive role, age needs to play a role in the decision on this because the loss of even half a step can change the dynamic of his effectiveness. Moore saw a pretty steep decline in possession this year (42.7% corsi this year compared to a 47.2% corsi last year) but it should be noted that he saw more defensive zone starts this year than he did last year (or any other year in his career for that matter). Can the Rangers expect those numbers to stay where they are for another year or two? Probably -- especially if they actually surround him with solid players -- but as an over-35 contract, any additional years add to the risk.
Which brings us to the next part of the puzzle: The money. Moore is probably going to be able to secure an multi-year deal on the open market as a quality depth player with a slew of playoff experience. Forget the Rangers upcoming re-branding, they need every dollar they can get to try and keep as much of the good aspects of this roster together as they can.
Moore continues to be a solid presence for the Rangers in their bottom six. Often unappreciated, he can add the occasional pop on offense and has carried Tanner Glass the past two years in addition to everything else he's done. As someone who is more than a little in the know with the current defensive system, the familiarity of Moore with Vigneault's style of play is one of his biggest positives here.
As with most free agent decisions this year, money is going to be the key factor. As much as I love Moore, what he's done for this team and what he can bring to the table, keeping him is probably going to be too expensive. Unless Moore is willing to take a one-year deal on a massive discount (figure at or under $1-million), I don't see any way he sticks around next year .
That's a really sad thing, but this is the bed the Rangers have made with their bad contracts. Jeff Gorton is going to have enough work to do by trying to unload a few of those; so I'm not sure Moore is high on his priority list.
I don't want to insinuate that players like Moore are a dime a dozen, because they're not. However, quality depth players are always looking for jobs around the middle of the summer. The Rangers grabbed Benoit Pouliot and Viktor Stalberg from the bargain bin and both worked out really well on Broadway. Replacing Moore with one of those players -- younger and cheaper -- is the best move for the team, more than likely.
And it might be the best thing for Moore, too, since I'm sure he's going to get a nice contract on the open market if he wants it. He's done a lot of good things for this team, came back after a devastating personal tragedy and gave his all for the Rangers. I wish he got his name on the Stanley Cup in New York, but it never happened.
It most likely never will, either.
Thoughts, guys? Keep or dump Moore?