Where Sather Went Wrong: Extending Rozsival

December 29, 2009, by

Part One.
Part Two.

This is now the third part of a the decisions of General Manager Glen Sather. Sather has come under some real heat lately, as the Rangers are in what appears to be a free fall, and have no cap room to make any adjustments. The highest paid players on the Rangers have been, to be delicate, disappointing. Sather’s strength during his tenure with the Rangers has been his ability to make trades, but this does not overshadow his weakness of evaluating the market and making the best decision for the team. In this series, I will analyze where Sather went wrong, and where he lost the fans.

In this third installment, we again look at the 2008 offseason. The Rangers found themselves with just four defensemen, and three big names in free agency coming their way. Having just spent a combined $14 million on Scott Gomez and Chris Drury the previous season, the Rangers could only afford one of the big name free agents, while attempting to retain others who were free agents. Of course, the Rangers signed Wade Redden and Dmitri Kalinin, re-upped Paul Mara, and then traded Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman for Nikolai Zherdev. Perhaps the deal that made the most noise, other than Redden’s signing, was the extension given to Michal Rozsival; a four-year deal worth $20 million.

The Rangers had their fair share of large contracts before Rozsival re-upped with the Rangers. They had the aforementioned Gomez/Drury contracts, and now the Redden contract. In three players, the Rangers had committed more than $20 million. They also had to resign Henrik Lundqvist, who gave the team a break and allowed them to deal with the salary cap woes prior to signing his long term deal. Rozsival was a key cog in the Rangers defense during his stay in New York, and deserved to be resigned. Insert Glen Sather, and his inability to appropriately read the market, and Rozsival now sits with a $5 million cap hit, more than double his previous contract.

This move was, in short, a disaster. For $5 million, the Rangers got a regressing Rozsival who has yet to find his game after his hip surgery. After a career year in which he anchored the powerplay, he became shot-shy, and rarely put the puck on net. Instead, he deferred to the larger contracts of Gomez and Drury to create. He stopped hitting people, and forwards just started skating by him, untouched.

Meanwhile, the current Rangers defense, already with Redden’s abysmal contract, became one of the softest in the league. A more appropriate contract for Rozsival, say three years $10 million, and the Rangers find themselves with more wiggle room, and maybe the ability to trade Rozsival to fill the hole of physical defenseman.

Chalk up this signing to poor timing and a regressing player. Had the Rangers not already committed $6.5 million a year to Redden, this signing would be easier to swallow. As it stands now, both signings are terrible, but Rozsival has become a black hole on defense, and prone to epic turnovers that have cost games.

Luckily for the Rangers, buying out Rozsival is a feasible option (If you haven’t checked out that post, you should, it took me forever to write). It’s not the prettiest of solutions, like the Gomez trade, but it gets the job done.

Categories : Business of Hockey


  1. Mikeeyyyyy says:

    How about where Sather went right. Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka, Marian Gaborik, Vinny Prospal.

    Rosi another good year or two left. Torts will help him find his game. While Gomez was a bust, I disagree with the previous post about Gomez and Drury. Gomez was a bust and had a carpy attitude, but Drury has been stepping it up and plays a vital role as captain. ( A quiet one, but an effective leader ) So the Redden Signing, a bust, but we were hoping he would turn his game around…and there is still time to do that. Rosi, played on some really bad Ranger teams and did well his first few seasons here, but one bad season and you want to eject the guy, while last year the ENTIRE team was really bad.

    Sather has been a driving force to getting the Rangers to the playoffs and providing what talent he can to the team. Would you rather we have the Smith days back of buying mercenaries? We tried it, it didn’t work. While Sather is not a draft awesomely and sign some key free agents, he has made sure we have been able to field a decent team, year in and year out, build the organization to the point it is in the top 5 in terms of prospects, and he was able to dump Gomez off to Montreal for McDonough and Higgins. Let’s not forget to mention, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Cherepanov (died but what can you do), Dubinsky, Anisimov, Grachev, Sanguinetti, Del Zotto, Gilroy, Hank, ( An FA signing)…all built in the org. I don’t care who drafted them, they made the big club with Sather at the helm.

    Its easy to write where a team or person went wrong when there is only one cup to win….but it takes real skill to write about where the team went right.

  2. Dave says:

    The point of these articles is to analyze where and how mismanagement of the salary cap cost or will cost the Rangers.

    If you read this blog regularly, you notice that I am actually one of the few unbiased opinions when analyzing deals. You’ll notice that I praised the Zherdev deal, the Gomez deal, the Prospal signing, etc.

    Again, the point is to analyze the business of the sport and where, if some time was spent to really analyze where the money should be spent, the Rangers could have improved.

    I am going to use Brian Cashman as a comparison here, as he passed on trading for Johan because he saw the upcoming free agent class (CC, AJ, Tex). Sometimes I get the feeling Sather doesn’t look ahead like that.

    • becky says:

      You can’t compare baseball and hockey signings. Apples and oranges, even I know that. Cashman is like a kid running wild in a toy store with unlimited cash.

      • Dave says:

        I wasn’t comparing signings, I was comparing the planning of signings and looking into future free agents, not just the current class.

        • becky says:

          Still a totally different mindset. Not defending Sather here but I can’t believe Cashman is a good GM til I see him working with a somewhat reasonable budget.

  3. Mikeeyyyyy says:

    I have read the blog…religiously for the past 14 months. And the articles on the games are usually spot on, you even beat zipay, carp, even brooks on things that are going on. But when you start “analysis” of deals , its always in hindsight and you never look at the deal as it pertains to the time the deal was made.

    Grow a set and try not to copy off of everyone else.

    • Dave says:

      Unfortunately that’s the nature of when the blog was started. I can’t analyze something at the time of the deal if this blog wasn’t around.

      That said, when deals do go down, I have always backed up what I said in my initial posts analyzing them (I still don’t like Sean Avery for three more years, and I still love the Zherdev deal).

    • Dave says:

      I would also like to thank you for being a regular lurker here, it’s not often someone posts here that’s been around since the beginning.

  4. Dave says:

    Becky, the budget argument is over rated and to be honest, a terrible argument. Minaya doesn’t have a limit, and look what he’s done. In 2007, Cashman had a choice of giving up prospects and cash for Johan, or just getting CC for cash. They were in a unique situation that allowed for the 2008 offseason, and Cashman took advantage. That’s being a good GM.

    • becky says:

      I disagree with you. You can say what you please but til I see him on a budget I’m still thinking he’s average at best. One “advantageous” situation does not make a good GM. Quite frankly, using Minaya is a garbage, cheap move and if you didn’t know me personally is not one you’d be able to make. I wasn’t saying Minaya was a good GM – in fact, I didn’t mention him at all – because he’s not. But the fact that he’s a poor GM doesn’t automatically make Cashman a good GM just because they manage in the same town. When you create a championship team out of a decent amount of money – or even, a low amount of money (most obvious examples are the teams in Florida), then you’re proving yourself. Those are teams that consistently redefine themselves through prospects and smart signings. Deciding to pass on one elite pitcher for another because you don’t want to give up prospects and would rather give up more money than God isn’t a bad move, but it is by no means great.

      Also, look what Cashman’s done with unlimited amounts of money throughout the mid 2000’s. He JUST “created” a championship team with over 5 players slated to make $20m next season and the vast majority of them making over $10m, a payroll in 2009 of over $200m… if they DIDN’T win, it would have been absolutely horrid.

      THIS is why I don’t argue baseball with you – and why I don’t want to on your hockey blog – because it cheapens my view of you as a sports fan and I know you’re smarter than this.

      • Dave says:

        It’s also widely known that after 2001, Steinbrenner took all of Cashman’s power away and started making moves on his own. It wasn’t until 2006 that Cashman regained control of the team and started rebuilding. The Yankees went from having no farm team to having at least a middle of the pack system, of which came Joba, Hughes, and the bullpen.

        Yes, they spend money, but they spend it on the right players. That’s the toughest thing to do. You can’t fault the Yankees for spending money on the team to win. You have to spend money to win. It’s the nature of the business, not the game.

        Also, I am going to add three posts for where Sather went right, and I’m not going to cheap out and include the Gomez trade.