Free Agency Watch: Simon Gagne

May 20, 2011, by

The Rangers are 99.99…..% likely to at least try and seduce Brad Richards into making Madison Square Garden his home from home – should he make the free agency madness that begins July 1st. Whether they get him or not however, the Rangers would be foolish to put all their eggs in one basket and not consider other targets, either as back up plans or as additional talent to compliment both Richards and the impressive young core assembled in New York.

This is one area that many Rangers fans disagree on. Not whether the Rangers should go after Richards but whether they should look to add more talent short term to aid a contender or continue to build patiently and not put everything on black. Can you build patiently and add talent to try and win at the same time? Tampa Bay are looking like a good example this season that suggests you can, and it’s at Tampa Bay we start our Free Agency watch, in regards to players that might interest the Rangers.

Simon Gagne

When fit (words so often heard around Rangers signings…) Simon Gagne is a great goal scorer and has been an elite goal scorer for several years. His career includes four seasons of more than 30 goals and 2 seasons where he eclipsed the 40 mark; for his career Gagne boasts 276 goals in the regular season. Indeed, it seems the only thing that has stopped Gagne being even more successful has been injuries. If you thought Gaborik was injury prone, take a look at Gagne. Yet, despite all those injuries, he still remains enticing. Gagne played in just 63 games this regular season and scored 17 goals and 40 points. In 9 games during these playoffs, the French Canadian has 8 points in 9 games proving he still has point/game talent when fit.

With a young Rangers team lacking in pure skill and goal scoring ability Gagne offers both, in addition to the massive experience he brings to the table (99 playoff games and counting). Gagne will likely hit the market this July for the very reason the Rangers should be cautious to add him; injuries. However it’s mainly for that reason Gagne should come cheap. No longer the genuinely elite winger he was in Philadelphia the 31 year old will not command the big dollars or length of deal he once would. A short, relatively modest deal could work for both sides. Low risk, potentially high reward for the Rangers and a chance to play top line minutes with the likes of Richards and Gaborik in NY are among the benefits for both player and team. Given the depth and youth (as well as a certain elite goalie) in New York, finding a true top line could boost the Rangers into the upper echelons of the Eastern Conference and a line of Gagne – Richards – Gaborik is certainly top line material.

The Rangers are not in win now mode but younger players certainly benefit from entering a franchise that has a winning culture (Detroit being exhibit A). While still integrating the young prospects such as Kreider, Thomas and Hagelin over the next few seasons, the Rangers would benefit from some genuinely successful seasons that featured a few solid playoff runs. Adding some veteran talent such as Gagne – on short deals – can help reach that aim. Will the Rangers make a move for Gagne? Who knows, but Gagne fills many voids in New York and could do so at a modest cost. While Alex Frolov didn’t work out in a similar scenario Vinny Prospal certainly did, proving that rolling the dice on a veteran – under the right conditions – can bring good results.



  1. Matt J says:

    For the right price yes he might be worth it. They should only look to try to aquire him if Richards signs. If Richards is a no go all bets are off. We might as well let the kids try to figure it out. I also don’t believe Frolov was brought in for his leadership. It was his goal scoring ability. Gagne will come ridiculously cheap after such a weak season from a points standpoint. Let’s just hope Tampa wins the cup so they deem him expendable.

  2. Mikeyyyy says:

    With all this talk of centers. If it an org must to have one go all out.

    See if the canes will take a deal for Eric staal.

    He would fit in wonderfully with our team. Hard hitter great two way center and a true leader. How would a top line of dubi-staal-gabby look? Frekin awesome.

    It might be worth it to package a real deal.

    We always have bad luck with our fa signings. But our trades work out great.

    • Chris says:

      Eric Staal will retire a Cane. Anything else would take an obscene amount of assets to acquire him and while he’s elite, what he’d cost he’s simply not worth it.

      He’s the face, heart and soul of that franchise. Relatively young and tied – in history – to that club. He may be (at least from a Canes point of view) as untradable as AO and Sid.

      • Mikeyyyy says:

        You know they said the same thing about Brian leetch.

        Cost vs benefit. Canes missed the playoffs.

        It’s a business. And as such anything is possible. I still think if you want a quality center and depth down the middle you won’t get it from fa. You will need to trade for it.

        • Dave says:

          Leetch was 36 and a pending UFA for a rebuilding team. Staal has 5 years left @ $8.25m cap hit. Different scenarios.

          • Matt J says:

            Staal’s the real deal. I’m also a firm believer that we should try to limit our big contracts. We currently have two people getting paid over 7 million and were going to try to add a third. That’s plenty. Staal’s price is absurd.

  3. Zen says:

    My hunch is that the Rangers will not be able to afford the type of deal Gagne will be offered by other teams. I think that Chris is underestimating the type of contract he could get in unrestricted free agency, especially considering how awful the forward group is. Seems like a good fit, though.

    Mikeyyy… no chance on Staal. Turn your attention to Nash (financial issues), Statsny (team shake-up), or Spezza (team rebuild) and maybe you might be able to pry them away… and that is a BIG maybe. Staal isn’t going anywhere. I love people who just pick a guy they like and say “let’s trade for them”. Kind of silly without some type of reason for why the other team would trade them.

    • Mikeyyyy says:

      Not just a guy I like he’s a good player. And the gripe I hear is that we need an “elite” center. If your going to make a splash. Make sure it’s big.

  4. ranger17 says:

    How about Joel Ward for 3rd and 4th line and PK. Good role player

  5. jerry says:

    so how much do you think we can get him for chris.

    • Chris says:

      Jerry, you referring to Gagne or Staal? Staal i’m not even going to go there. Multiple 1sts, roster players etc, etc….

      Gagne? I genuinely think a contract similar to Frolov last year may get it done, maybe another year would be needed. Zen does make a valid point about the weak free agent class. That may be Gagne and his agents saving grace.

      Does he sacrifice some $$$ for a significant team role and for the right situation though? I think he may.

  6. Dave says:

    I would pass on Gagne. Too many injuries. Considering we have Gaborik, having two injury prone guys as top liners wouldn’t work out so well.

    I say look at the trade market for a top line LW.

  7. Brian SCS says:

    Pass on Gagne. I’m actually surprised that he has recovered as well as he did from the dreaded “double-sports hernia” which also led to Jonathan Cheechoo’s decline. But this case is like most and it will come down to money and the Rangers hopefully will pass on the $3mil+ multi-year contract that some offense-starved team would be likely to offer him. And why block an opportunity for a kid like Grachev or MZA if they impress in camp. And if the Rangers want a veteran scorer just keep Prospal at a fraction of the price on a one year deal.

  8. The Suit says:

    Gagne is as soft as tissue paper and even when healthy he doesn’t fit into Torts aggressive forechecking system. The Rangers generate offense below the goal line and in the corners which is exactly where Gagne’s game goes to feces.

    If I’m the GM of a trapping team, or a bottom feeder like the Panthers, I might give him a look for a 1-2 year contract, but other than that, I don’t see where he fits.

    • Dave says:

      Well the argument is that the Rangers need top line talent that doesn’t need to grind it out. Gagne fits that mold more.

      • Chris says:

        seconded… and having watched the last few Bruins Tampa games closely I’ve been highly surprised/impressed with Gagne’s compete level (throwing punches at Greg Campbell?! wow) and wilingness to go hard into the corners. If Gagne played regularly like this I’d welcome him short term.

        • Dave says:

          I’d still prefer to look through the trade market to get someone more durable and more reliable.

          • The Suit says:

            I want someone who can grind and who has skill. I want complete hockey players. Not one- dimensional guys.

    • Brian SCS says:

      Just re-sign Prospal at a fraction of the price on a one year deal. He’s less injury prone than Gagne and produced a similair point per game avg. and is a good fit with this team. Plus he has shown chemistry with Gabby and may look good on a line with Richards and Gaborik.

      Now I’m not saying that I think Prospal should definately return but I would take him over Gagne in a heartbeat.

      • Zen says:

        I like Vinny P, but I wonder if it is reaching the end for him. My guess is that the Rangers will look for top-line LW in a trade first, then hope a young kid develops in camp, AND THEN decide whether to re-sign him. Though he still put up stats, he looked awfully slow this past season.

      • Dave says:

        It will be tough to sign Prospal because there is no bonus cushion this year. Any bonuses in a contract count directly against the cap this season. It may wind up costing someone like Prospal an opportunity this season.

  9. Zen says:

    Just a general statement about finding scorers. Remember that even though we have a ton of good prospects in the system, they can’t all make it to the big club. The idea of building a good system is to eventually use several of the players as assets in a trade. With how weak the UFA class is (outside of Richards), why not move a strong 2nd/3rd liner (like AA… whomever) plus prospects & picks to get a stud scorer? Scorers don’t grow on trees necessarily, but they do become available every year in some manner. I know some will say they are attached to players like AA, but they have limited upsides and will never amount to anything like this team needs to move to the next level. We need elite talent and those types of players could help us get it. I personally would be all over Nash or Statsny, but there is no proof (other than rumors) that they are available. I could see the Caps moving Semin (once again speculation), but probably not to the Rangers. Semin, BR, Gaborik would be SICK!

    • Dave says:

      I think that’s the path they are best suited for. Sign Richards, then deal some prospect depth for a good LW.

  10. Mikeyyyy says:

    The fastest way to find this is to find the critical path.

    This us the path to your goal that is blocking you From success.

    We need to compete or the cup
    Star goalie. Check
    Good defense. Check
    Depth down the middle. X

    With a copious amount of players on wing you trade those assets to get the center depth required. The rebuild your prospects.

    Trade and rebuild. At this point who is expendable to acquire center depth.

    Or do we hinge our hopes on aa and ds. I prefer to wait. But if you want center depth. True depth. Then you need to trade other assets for it. Picks. Prospects and some roster players. I’m not saying sell the farm. But you gotta give to get.

  11. Matt J says:

    Well guys I think we all basically came to the conclusion unless your team drafts extremely well your stuck at signing mercenaries and your team is at a high disadvantage.

  12. Section 121 says:

    I agree with suit; I’m interested in complete hockey players.

    I’ll take two Callahan’s over one Gaborik any day.

    • Dave says:

      You enjoy your two Callahan’s and 9th place. I’ll enjoy my Gaborik+ and the playoffs.

      Skill wins in this league. The Rangers don’t have skill, thus they don’t succeed. Richards is a must, as is one more skilled player, and an emergence from MDZ.

      • The Suit says:

        I agree on signing Richards and MDZ returning to form are must haves, but I still think LW is a position where you need muscle over finesse…only because of the way this team plays with LWs usually are the first man in on the forecheck. In a 1-4 or 1-2-2 you can get away with having the LW as a Gagne or Frolov type, but for 2-1-2 play or more importantly the 2-3 (hence its name the LW lock), guys who can take away the puck from the D is crucial.

      • Gary says:

        Boyle, EC, Gilroy, Newbury, Grachev, and a D-prospect (Valentenko) maybe a couple of picks too, should be worked into a trade. Not sure for who but I feel they are good enough to gets somthing worth while and also expandable for the NYR