Before you get too excited about free agency…

June 3, 2012, by

Now that the 2011-2012 season is behind us, many have already turned their attention to free agency.  But before you do, a word of caution.

July 1st always represents a feeding frenzy and fans pay close attention to the mercenaries that could be brought aboard to hopefully take their teams to the next level.  The Rangers are notoriously active on the free agent market and will surely be a major player again this summer.

But before getting too excited about the players that could sign the dotted line with New York, remember that many of the men that switch teams won’t make quite as big an impact as we may convince ourselves to believe leading up to the kickoff of the signing period.

That’s not to say that all of the impending free agents have inflated values – Ryan Suter and Zach Parise are both bona fide superstars and could buoy their future employers to the next level as Brad Richards did for the Blueshirts.

But midlevel guys often disappoint.  Erik Cole, Tomas Fleischmann and Radim Vrbata turned out to be home runs for their teams, but several of the higher profile guys that signed fat contracts last summer flopped.

Consider these “big name” free agents from last summer, several of whom were desired by Rangers fans at the time:

Ville Leino

Signing: Left a cushy situation in Philadelphia to ink a six-year, $27 million contract with the Buffalo Sabres

2011-2012: 8 goals, 17 assists in 71 games

Jussi Jokinen

Signing: Re-signed with Carolina for three-years, $9 million

2011-2012: 12 goals, 34 assists in 79 games

Brooks Laich

Signing: Re-signed with Washington for six-years, $27 million

2011-2012: 16 goals, 25 assists in 82 games

Sean Bergenheim

Signing: Took a four-year, $11 million offer to join the Florida Panthers after an inspiring 2011 playoff run with Tampa

2011-2012: 17 goals, 6 assists in 23 games

Simon Gagne

Signing: Two-years, $7 million to join the legion of ex-Flyers in Los Angeles

2011-2012: 7 goals, 10 assists in 34 games (Missed most of the campaign with yet another concussion)

Joel Ward

Signing: Pried from Nashville by Washington for four-years, $12 million after a solid showing in the 2011 playoffs

2011-2012: 6 goals, 12 assists in 73 games

Christian Ehrhoff

Signing: Part of the free agent splash by new Buffalo owner Terry Pegula, inked a 10-year, $40 million deal with the Sabres

2011-2012: 5 goals, 27 assists in 66 games

Tomas Kaberle

Signing: Landed in Carolina with a three-year, $12.75 million pact

2011-2012: 3 goals, 28 assists in 72 games (Traded to Montreal after just 29 games in Carolina – GM Jim Rutherford told the media, “I should’ve known better.”)

The lesson here: be very careful what, or who, you wish for. There are attractive names, but it’s about the guys that fit into this system. Not everyone can play for John Tortorella.


  1. Mikeyyy says:

    So it’s Parise or bust?

    • Kevin says:

      Mikeyyy I think the message is more that spending wisely is paramount and settling for mediocre fits (Radulov) isn’t a good course of action

  2. The Suit says:

    Hmmm I distinctly remember a lot of people wanting to sign Gagne last summer and trashing us when we said to look elsewhere. Whoops.

  3. Chuck A. says:

    Cyndi Lauper said it best: “money changes everything”

  4. Walt says:

    The shopping list should be, in the following order:

    Shea Weber
    Ryan Suter

    If you can’t get these guys, Brooks reports that the Ranger have inquired about Radulov. He has an offer from a Russian team, but he appears to want to play in the NHL, so why not see if he can be had.

    His character is the only question, but he may have grown up a bit, won’t bet on it after the drinking episode during the play-offs, but he may come cheap. The man can score, and right now with Gabby hurt, he can skate with BR, and Kreider as a first line, not too bad!

    Nothing against Nashville, but this guy is Russian, and there are plenty of his people in Brighten Beach Brooklyn, where he could feel much more at home than in Nashville. I think if the cost is right, he can work out, but only to a short term contract, so he can prove himself worthy of something longer term.

    • Alex says:

      I’d be alrite with giving Radulov an offer sheet, but I’d rather have Parise. I think youre shopping list should be reversed. We need more scoring, not defense.

    • Tim B says:

      If Radulov does come to the blueshirts than where would he fit on the roster? When Gabby comes back, Radulov will not go to the third line. I dont think he can play left wing so the only option i can think of is trade Gabby when he gets back which isnt likely to happen. Parise would be the best option seeing that he plays left wing. Sather isnt going to give a ton of money to big name defensemen.

  5. paulronty says:

    Forget Shea Weber, never going to happen. Rangers need to target Parise first & foremost and Schultz is the second option.

  6. wwpd says:

    do ranger fans really need to be reminded that big free agents may not live up to expectations!

    i know plenty of devil and flyer fans who remind me of that all the time in case i forget

    • Walt says:

      Right like Danny Brier, or Kovi!!!!!

      Don’t tell me that Gabby, or Richards haven’t worked out either.

      • wwpd says:

        who needs Briere we landed Dru!

        do you really want to play the good vs bad rangers free agent game 🙂

  7. Mikeyyy says:

    You will always overpay for free agents.

    • wwpd says:

      depends, from the current roster i feel we’ve more than got our money worth from guys like biron and feds. and 2 out of 3 years gabby has played like a guy with a $7.5mil price tag

      • Walt says:

        no dought the Rangers made more than their fair share of bad signings over the years!!!!!

  8. Jeff P says:

    I would argue that at least half of players on this list produced on the level expected of them, and the teams were quite happy with the returns provided.
    Particularly applies to Jokinen and Laich.

    • Kevin says:

      How so? Jokinen is 2 years removed from a 30 goal season and should have been minimum 20 goals 55 points. Laich was decent, but with the raise comes higher expectations. He’s been a 20-25 goal guy in the past.

      • Jeff P says:

        I look at Jokinen’s 30 goal year much like Boyle’s last year. Huge bonus. Nobody ever expected him to shoot nearly 20% percent again, did they?
        20 goals I can see for him again, but not 30. Laich’s stat decline is very much inline with the rest of the Caps, and he fills a role for them. Would love to have him on the Rangers with 40 points a season on the third line.

        • Section 121 says:

          hmmmmm, sounds like Dubinsky at about the same price… LW, C versatility, physical, finishes checks, etc.

        • Section 121 says:

          actually, Dubi is cheaper than Laich…

  9. HARLEMBLUES says:

    Please no Parise.He isn’t a superstat but he is small.Please stop with the overpaying of non game changers.Stamkos yes,Malkin yes,Ilya yes superstars.