Bantering Points: Welcome To The Offseason

The offseason is officially here.

- Now that the buyout window is officially open we can consider this the start of the offseason. The buyout window is live, the NHL draft is Sunday, free agency is a week after that and then before you know it we'll be bantering about the prospects at the Traverse City tournament. Fun times.

- By now you've all seen that Ryane Clowe is apparently willing to make a pay cut to stay with the Rangers. I know a lot of you guys are against the Rangers making a serious play to keep him around, but I still maintain that for the right deal he's a useful guy to have. Playoff veteran. Does what it takes to win. And since the Rangers won't be playing that rough and tough, grinding game anymore his presence might be really helpful. The Rangers still don't have many guys willing to crash the net. Clowe did it with regularity last year. And if his concussions are behind him (he's been medically cleared to play) and his shoulder is healed (again, he's been medically cleared to play so he had to get the green light there as well) I think we're looking at a much different player. Sure, guys who sustain concussions can easily get them again, but I think on the right deal Clowe is worth having.

- And what's the right deal for Clowe? Three years for $9-million? Maybe as high as $3.5-million a year on a shorter deal. I'm Ok with that. I'm not sure I'm alright with the Rangers going longer than three years, and if that's a sticking point for him then let him walk. Remember, the Rangers surrender next year's 2nd round pick if they sign him.

- Also, I see a lot of people saying that trade was a failure by Glen Sather. It was, but only because he was brought in for the playoffs and he only ended up playing in one game. Guys like Clowe are very valuable and I think if he comes back healthy this year he can make an impact.

- I'm sure you all also saw that Henrik Lundqvist's camp is going to sit down with the Rangers at some point in the near future to talk about a contract extension. This isn't unexpected. I said it then and I'll say it again, the comments he made after the season was over at breakup day were blown out of proportion. I'm not sure how much of a hometown discount the Rangers might expect, though. He's the best goaltender on the planet.

- Preliminary contract discussions have started with Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin and Ryan McDonagh. Also unexpected, Sather has publicly announced he expects to keep all four. The only real question of those four coming back was Zuccarello, and it's clear he's going to return.

- Who gets the biggest deal between Stepan and McDonagh? My guess is McDonagh. Both players would garner a lot of attention on the RFA market (remember, McDonagh has arbitration rights) and it wouldn't shock me if another team made a play for either of them if it got that far. And while I think both have very bright futures, McDonagh is something of a miracle to do what he does at his age. Stepan had an amazing season as well, but McDonagh has been more consistent. Still, if Stepan has another year like last year he's going to be getting a nice little payday down the line.

- I'll talk about this more in a future story, but McDonagh and Stepan will probably break Sather's "go tough on guys coming off their entry level contracts" stance. Hagelin? Not so much.

- Things are going to be getting a little hectic I would think. Make sure you guys stick around these corners for all your offseason needs.