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:
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
Signing: Re-signed with Carolina for three-years, $9 million
2011-2012: 12 goals, 34 assists in 79 games
Signing: Re-signed with Washington for six-years, $27 million
2011-2012: 16 goals, 25 assists in 82 games
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
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)
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
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
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.