Glen Sather is setting a standard the rest of the NHL should follow

September 27, 2013, by
Sather always does things on his terms

Sather always does things on his terms

Remember when Ales Hemsky was considered an elite prospect? Remember the last time the Edmonton Oilers were considered a well run franchise? The answer to both questions is probably a long time ago. Despite multiple lottery draft picks the Oilers have been ‘on the cusp’ of being a playoff team for too long (although this year may finally be the year they reach the post season).

How does the Oilers’ underperforming relate to the Rangers? Glen Sather has once again shown how a consistent strategy and sensible planning goes hand in hand with a successful franchise. With the announcement of Derek Stepan’s new deal – two years for $6.15m – the Rangers made a mockery of clubs such as the Oilers who appear in a constant rush to sign players to excessive deals before they’ve actually earned them.

Sather is right. When players such as Derek Stepan arrive at the point where they can justify ‘big contracts’, they will get paid. The Rangers have always paid well. The modern day Sather shows patience, he makes sure his franchise is well run financially and demands players prove their worth. Sather’s approach generates a level of motivation as players are challenged to earn financial rewards. The injury prone Ales Hemsky scored 20 points last year and hasn’t hit forty points since 2010 yet he’s making 5m. Hardly value for money and hardly the type of player and deal commonly found in a successful franchise.

While the likes of Ryan Nugent Hopkins and Taylor Hall are clearly elite, world class talents are they already deserving of 6m salaries? Do playoff performances no longer factor into salary justification? Nugent Hopkins signed his shiny new deal this summer on the back of a four goal season. Did the Oilers really need to throw 6m a year for seven years at Nugent Hopkins so soon? Is it a coincidence that clubs throwing money around like confetti are the desperate franchises, perpetually struggling to be successful?

Of course, there is an element of risk to the Rangers insistence on bridge contracts; players could outperform their shorter deals and subsequently, quickly become too expensive to retain.  However Sather’s stance is the right one and quality, successful players are never difficult to move if the necessity arises. For $6.15m Derek Stepan is a bargain for two years. If he continues to produce around a point per game for the next two years no one will argue that he’ll be worth much more.

The Rangers have several potentially tricky contract situations to navigate in the near future and some of those could become painfully expensive but cost should be relative and an 80 point center (Stepan’s potential) is worth paying for. Stepan has been challenged to earn more by Sather and the Rangers and that’s exactly how it should be.

For years the Rangers – Sather in particular – have been criticised for their reckless spending and for lacking financial foresight but the Derek Stepan deal is an example of why the Rangers should be seen as an example organisation to the rest of the NHL.


  1. Rangers Fan in Boston says:

    Imagine this article being written as recently as 3 years ago. Unfathomable.

    Sather has definitely improved his image (at least with me), but his legacy is still tied to bringing a Cup back to NY.

    • Chris says:

      Actually, I think Sather has been super responsible since the lost season (04-05) and institution of the cap. When the Rangers were still building a farm system coming out of that lockout he was burning up Cap Space. But that’s because he needed bodies on the ice and the only way to get them was via Free Agency.

      Look at the moves he made immediately before that lockout, dumping all the vets, acquiring Jagr at a 50% cap hit (thank you Capitals!). Yes he overpaid for Redden, Drury, Gomez but he knew there were ways out of those cap hits with the old rules. Ok, he got lucky with Gomez but what’s that old chestnut, luck is the residue of preparation, something like that.

      I have been a Ranger fan since the mid 80s and I can confidently say I have never seen a pipeline of young talent like the organization has had the past seven years. You have to give Sather boatloads of credit Cup or no Cup. Put it this way, with Callahan, Dubinsky, Anisimov, Hagelin, Girardi, Stepan, et al (notice there is not a first rounder in that group) we have come a long long way from the days of Daniel Goneau, Christian Dube, Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark.

      • Rob says:

        Right On Chris! People think that this is something that started 3-4 years ago when in actuality began much earlier when Don Maloney was part of management. Yes he’s made some mistakes but generally speaking he’s been good for about the past 7 years here.

      • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

        That’s not my point. My point is public opinion of Sather was not great as recently as 2010 when fans were holding “Fire Sather” rallies.

        I give him tons of credit for changing his philosophies, especially right after Lockout 1. However, its only recently where he’s actually been commended for it.

        • Chris A says:

          I always thought that rally was extremely short sighted and very silly. Even when that rally was happening, everything I mentioned two comments up was happening/happened.

          The team has made the playoffs or almost made the playoffs (damn shootout) every season since 05-06. The only thing Sather did wrong in the few seasons post lockout was burn Jimmy Dolan’s money on some silly Free Agents. He didn’t trade away any huge prospects/picks, brought a ton of assets into the system and helped build this current perennial contender we have enjoyed the past two years and will continue to enjoy for the next few years.

          Some people just like to complain I guess.

      • Michael says:

        I thought we all agreed never to mention Pavel Brendl’s name again.

  2. Chris says:

    Love it. Couldn’t agree more with this post.

    The reality is that managing cap space is just as important a part of building a successful NHL franchise as acquiring talent.

    Great job by Sather getting Stepan signed for exactly the number he envisioned. It’s all part of the plan.


  3. Wil Rumble says:

    Setting the standard? For keeping money in Dolan’s pockets but the only standard a true fan should care about is winning the cup which Sather sucks at as head of the Rangers for over a decade.

    • VinceR says:

      You understand the concept of the salary cap, right? How is he keeping money in Dolan’s pockets if they are consistently spending up to the cap?

    • Mark says:

      Got to agree with this. What standard are the Rangers setting? Are we good at not paying the younger players? Sure Sather understands the system well and has made some decent trades..but a lot of trades were made because they made up for a bad signing to begin with. Things are in the right direction but they have been for awhile and still the team gets trounced by Boston. Want to set a standard? How about the Devils…? They consistently do more with less and it is frustrating.

  4. tom says:

    Yes, low ball home grown talent and overpay for free agents who don’t produce, that is the wsy to go! Lets see eho is crying when Stephan leaves in 2 years

    • Sally says:

      That’s a little dramatic, don’t you think? From The Queen of Drama.

    • Chris says:

      But Stepan is still a Restricted Free Agent in two years. Where is Stepan going? The KHL?

      Get a clue before shooting your mouth off.

  5. The Suit says:

    Send this to that bum Adam Proteau at THN.

  6. Fotiu is God says:

    Holy flashback, is that Sandy McCarthy to Slats’ right… and Nick Kypreos to our former bench-bosses’ left?

    Chris: What’s Conor Allen’s status? Is he gonna’ stick?

    • Chris A says:

      Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s Neil Smith Draft Bust(c) Jamie Lundmark sitting next to Sandy.

  7. Frank Cerbone says:

    Lindberg, Fast, Hrvik, & Conner are probable gone after this weekend.

    Asham, Powe, Bickel, Falk, Dorsett, Pyatt, Dominic Moore, Mashinter, & Boyle. Who stay or goes? Can 5 of this group be kept?

    Do both Miller & Kreider stay, or does one go.

  8. Kyle says:

    Wow, what a horrible article. Do you even watch NHL hockey, bro? I’m not surprised you provided zero statistical information to support your opinion. Are you seriously comparing RNH to Derek Stepan? Stepan was only the top line centre in New York because Richards couldn’t find any chemistry / heart. His is a perfect example by the way, of exactly what Slats represents. Each year he outbids everyone for the top available free agent. It’s kind of a running joke in the league. Edmonton on the other hand has a handful of NUMBER ONE OVERALL draft picks they need to pay. Why don’t you go ahead and tell me what number one overall pick in recent memory has signed for less than 6 mil in relation to the salary cap. You need to give your head a shake and start comparing apples to apples. Trust me when I say Glen Sather will never get a nomination for GM of the year.

    • Chris A says:

      You completely missed the point of the Original Post. Why does Edmonton have to give RNH $6M/season? Who were they bidding against? What was RNH going to do? Sit out a season?

      The point is you only commit as much cap space to a player as is required. If Edmonton could have signed RNH for a more reasonable cap hit ($4M/year) for a few years and utilized that cap space (extra $2M) to acquire another asset (a 3/4 D, checking C, secondary scoring W), doesn’t your common sense tell you that Edmonton will be a better team?

      The only team that has gotten away with paying their stud youngsters early and succeeding is Pittsburgh and that’s because their two studs are the best two Offensive Centers in the league (Crosby, Malkin).

      • Kyle says:

        I definitely didn’t miss the point you intended to make, I simply think you are wrong. I don’t believe you recognize there is a different dynamic when you negotiate with a player of pedigree. As far as earning his contract, maybe you should look at RNH’s stat line in comparison to other players in their first three years. As I stated previously, the numbers do not support your opinion. Two years ago at the 20 game mark Edmonton was on first place overall in the NHL. More recently, every time period that the “kid line” for the Oilers was healthy and playing together, they led the NHL in power play rate of success. Oh, and that’s including the “best two offensive centers in the league (Crosby, Malkin).

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      Bro, you make a valid point on the RNH vs. Stepan comparison in that it’s not a fair one – although it’s a pretty easy argument to say RNH has not earned the contract he was given (and since when does draft position automatically dictate how much a player is paid?)

      But let’s be fair here. Outside of Richards, Sather has kept his hand out of the high priced FA market since the Gomez/Drury deals of ’07. Name any other high priced FA bust that was signed in that time period, let alone “each year”.

      It was a pre-salary cap philosophy (which just did not work) that he has corrected, and is being recognized for it, bro.

      • Kyle says:

        Hmmm, let me think… 2007… that would be the year Sather signed Gomez and Drury to those juicy contracts, correct? LOL. I’d say chronologically his next blunder would have been the 4x5mil for Rozsival.

        • Chris A says:

          Right, but read what I said earlier. Drury, Gomez and Redden cost the Rangers nothing but Dolan’s money.

          Signing those players did not cost the Rangers the opportunity to sign other great players or retain their budding young stars. Sather made those Free Agent moves knowing that if they didn’t work out the players could always be buried in Hartford.

          You mention the Rozsival deal, the contract for Rozsival was purposefully front loaded so he could be dealt to teams that were cash poor but needed to use cap space to get to the cap floor.

          The only recent move you can get on Sather for is the Richards deal, and, would you look at that, the Rangers can buy out Richards with no cap penalty after this season.

      • Frank Cerbone says:

        2008 Wayne Redden signed by Sather for 6 yrs & only $38 mil

        2009 Gaborik signed by Sather for 7 yrs $39 mil
        2009 Brashear signed by Sather for 2 yrs $2.8 mil
        2010 Boogard sign by Sather for 4 yrs $6.5 mil
        (no mention that Boogard had been in drug rehab for oxycodone addiction by Rangers or Joe Fortunato of Blueshirt Banter.

        • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

          Gaborik was one of Sather’s finest moments.

          Redden for sure, but that was still 2008, it’s been 5 solid years since (I wouldn’t call Brashear or Boogard “high priced” busts).

          I’m not letting Sather off the hook here, just supporting the change in philosophies that has provided the Rangers with much needed depth the past several years.

          And who’s Joe Fortunato?

    • Chris says:

      You actually can’t read.

  9. Evan M says:

    I will probably get flamed for this… I don’t care too much about the Cup. While winning the Cup would be amazing, I just want to see some great, fun hockey, night in and night out. 11-12 was a ton of fun for me as a Rangers fan and I’m not sour over missing the Cup. Give me consistent years of high octane hockey, and I’m happy.

    I think Sather has been successful during the last decade in this regard.

  10. JoeP199 says:

    After last night’s game, I think a lot of things have to be reconsidered. The Canucks beat the Rangers badly under the same coach that was fired by the Rangers, Tortorella. The Canucks scored 2 power play goals against the Rangers with a power play coached by Mike Sullivan. This was with essentially the same line up on the ice that the teams had last year, when Sullivan was constantly criticized for his power play coaching, and the Rangers were at least a hard working defensively responsible team under Tortorella. Maybe the fault wasn’t with the coaching, maybe, instead, we just don’t have as good a team as we thought, and the coaches really did the best they could with the hand they’d been dealt by Sather.

    • Evan M says:

      It’s the preseason.

      I miss Torts, but it’s just the preseason. New coach. New Systems. No games that count.

  11. Harry says:

    Sather setting a standard?
    All I can say is Brad Richards contract.

  12. John says:

    Absolutely, without a doubt, the best, most accurate post I have ever read on this site! Great job!