Could the Rangers go for it all, this summer?

February 15, 2014, by
Keeping Callahan means building a contender (Photo: Anthony Gruppuso, USA TODAY Sports)

Keeping Callahan means building a contender (Photo: Anthony Gruppuso, USA TODAY Sports)

If you’re a cup half full kind of person, assume for a minute that both Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi sign back up with the Rangers and the core remains intact. Let’s also assume for a moment that Anton Stralman sticks around for a reasonable cost, and all of a sudden the Rangers fine core remain together; losing ‘just’ Brad Richards who is surely off to pastures new.

With the NHL salary cap going up this summer –and with the Rangers likely to have some serious cap room to play with– the opportunity (or danger?) to go out and entice a major free agent or two is there. Of course, most Rangers fans start getting anxious at the thought of Glen Sather having a blank cheque book. Sather’s Achilles heel is his free agency history.

Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman represent the key to the Rangers spending ability this summer. The upcoming free agency period is absent of legitimate options on the blueline, unless you’re happy to over commit to 36 year or 37 year olds. With Girardi and Stralman (hopefully) under wraps the Rangers retain one of the deepest defensive units in the league, allowing them to focus any spending up front, where there could be a few quality players available.

With a 2014-15 cap ceiling projected to be around $71 million, the Rangers currently have around $29 million space without factoring any of their necessary moves. With just ten players under contract beyond this season, the Rangers do have a lot of work to do. Even with assumed pay rises to Callahan, Girardi and co., there figures to be real space to play with when taking a guy such as Brad Richards off the books. Here’s where it gets exciting or concerning, depending on your disposition.

How would Thomas Vanek look like in Ranger blue? How about Paul Statsny replacing Brad Richards up front? Could you warm to a guy such as Derek Roy adding depth down the middle? The obvious risks are that it’s a seller’s market and prices (as usual) will be inflated. That’s assuming the better alternatives even make it to the July free-for-all. The last time the Rangers made a bold double summer splash it ended in disastrous style as Chris Drury wore down quickly and Scott Gomez turned into a disaster one year in to his tenure.

With the Rangers boasting arguably the best goaltender in the business, and assuming an intact defensive unit able to go toe to toe with any club in the league, imagine the Rangers added some real talent in the summer. The Rangers window to contend is open.

Free agency of course represents a big risk, but it also doesn’t strip a franchise of future-building draft picks. With the salary cap only going up (thank you, Stadium Series), the Rangers deep pockets are back in play. Nobody is saying the Rangers should turn a blind eye to their prospects, but there’s an opportunity for the Rangers to go for it all this summer.

Imagine for a moment a top nine comprising Kreider – Stepan – Nash, Vanek – Statsny – Callahan, and Hagelin – Brassard – Zuccarello. While the likes of the Penguins and Blackhawks may have the best individual talent on their top lines – thanks to countless lottery picks – can any club shutdown that kind of top nine?

Mass acquisition of this kind may not be likely or well advised (because of the necessary commitments in a weak market) but with some careful planning the Rangers have an opportunity to go for it all this summer. Food for thought.


  1. RangerSmurf says:

    There’s no way they can afford that top 9.

    • Centerman21 says:

      I don’t think they can afford that top 6 or that 2nd line to be exact.
      I’d love to have that type of team to field next season. Though I think I’d rather have Pouliot than Hagelin on that 3rd line. That is supposed to be a 2 way line able to chip in offensively and shut down the opposition with less than 50% offensive starts and a positive rating in Corsi events. I think Hagelin can get us a nice young player in return. I don’t think AV knows how to use him. He’s too small for bottom 6 and doesn’t score enough for the top 6. If he could score 20 goals & 40 points. For a 2nd line LW that is solid production. I think Pouliot has turned a corner since his revival before Christmas. He has been accepted by his teammates. plays a good physical game and has serious chemistry with Brass & Zuc. Why remove players for new ones and have to start over again with the bottom 6.
      How is Vanek’s skating? Can he play the fast paced puck persuit that AV employs and is he asking for the moon? Stastny is a boom at both ends of the ice and I’d welcome him in here. All this depends on the future of Richards. His $6.7 mil will be needed for one or both of those players.
      I love Hagelin but t this point I think his game is what it is. On a slow team he can be used as a Fastball after a change up. He doesn’t score enough. He’s a possession monster but I think his time in NY is coming to and end. Not because of him but AV.
      I would like to see if the Blues want a shutdown PKer in Boyle and maybe a mid level prospect or mid round pick for Stewart. They shed 2 mil in space and add a defensive forward for the 4th line. The Rangers get a beast of a right handed shot ( I think they need one more righty on the top 9. There’s 3 and one plays LW on his off side. I think this team will look way different in the next 9 months. If Richards isn’t here next season then Sather needs to address that with a top 6 Centerman. Vanek is a good addition at the right price but if you’re talking LW. Why not go after Moulson. He is certainly going to be cheaper.
      He needs to get that plan in place now.

  2. Leatherneckinlv says:

    saying they do sign Cally and Girardi and lose Richards, then the no brainer is to sign Stastny and if money is there to sign Vanek…then do it. I would still want Pouliot to be signed because of that 3rd line chemistry.

    So a line up of

    Nash, Stastny and Vanek
    Kreider, Stepan and Callahan
    Pouiliot, Brassard and Zuccarello
    Hagelin, Moore and Boyle
    Dorsett and Beach

    McDonagh and Girardi
    Staal and Stepan
    Moore and Klein
    Allen and McIlrath

    Lundqvuist and Talbot

    Can someone do the Math on the hypothetical Salary Cap and Space on this line up?

    This team could very well challenge for the Cup

    I just don’t see if it is feasible

    • Centerman21 says:

      I like that plan 100% Those lines would have teams losing sleep watching video at all hours of the night. Callahan $ Girardi need to be retained. They cannot let them leave making more holes and putting players into the Captaincy and “A” they may not fit into. A whole new leadership group will be in place if that’s the case. I don’t like that after these kids on this team have played so many hard playoff games together. Much of that would be gone and now new players have to find a role on this team. If possible, I’d keep Richards and see if I could get one of those players. Richie might score 70 points with Vanek on his wing. Stasny isn’t doing that tho he’s a better 2 way forward and brings a tougher game. I like Richards and I have a feeling after last year Sather and co told him they have no intensions of using the buyout on him.

  3. paulronty says:

    For one I do not like Vanek(lazy player), Stasny or Derek Roy. And I don’t buy out Richards, no way. He’s got a lot of hockey left in him & he brings a lot of intangibles & leadership to the team. Look at Jagr, he’s still playing great and if Richards keeps that Spartan workout regime he’ll still put up points even at 37. I like the current makeup of the team but the improvements will come from within house because we have some good looking prospects who will be cheap over their first few seasons. Free Agency is a drag. Players are overpaid & underperform usually. Haven’t we learned that lesson yet? And has anybody noticed the VAST improvement in Ryan Bourque? He’s a terrific player you know. Perfect replacement for Dom Moore–great penalty killer, more offensive upside than Moore & a fantastic skater. We need to make our team the fastest team in the NHL because speed is what kills.

  4. Ray says:

    I think raises to Lundqvist, Girardi, Callahan, Zuccarello, Stralman eat up the salary cap increase. If you let Richards go, you have money for one splash, not two. Maybe your suggestion, Chris with Pouliot in place of Callahan.

    • Centerman21 says:

      Pouliot naturally plays the LW even though he is a righty. I don’t think he is a replacement for Callahan. I don’t think this is nearly the same team without Cally. I think they have trouble on the PK and with physicality without him. Besides when all is sad and done the 2 sides come to an agreement in the 5.5 mil range.

  5. Erixon20 says:

    I don’t think a buyout of BR is guaranteed anymore. AV seems to love him and he does look 1000x better than last year. If Stasny wants to come here though, I think you have to get him and that will mean the end of BR in a Blueshirt. That does not discount his place on this year’s team, as he is a VERY important player……AV uses him whenever possible plus his contributions as PP QB. I’d like to see them add Chris Stewart at the deadline and Stasny in the offseason, and be a true Cup contender (not saying they can’t win this year, but fairly unlikely).

    • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

      I want Stewart too. I would trade Hagelin & Boyle for him. Or Boyle and pick(s). Let Stewart get PP time and play 4th line. He gets 12-14 mins a night and now we have unrivaled depth going into the playoffs. Along with 2 (Carcillo & Dorsett both on there correct side) agitators and a heavyweight. Stewart is a Lucic type we will need to get past Boston. Plays well when mad and will fight to police the games.

  6. Walt says:

    First of all Vanek is going to the Wild, because he went to school in Minny, and that is home for his wife.

    We will need to replace BR, Stastny is the man for that job.

    If Callie doesn’t sign, then trade for Stewart who could be a big suprise for this team.

    The rest of the line up is fine, assuming Dan re-signs as well.

    Boyle, with Dorsett, and Carcillo would be a nice 4th line, and we re-sign Pouliout to keep that 3rd line together.

    I’m also not discounting on the idea of Lindberg making the team next year!!!!!! That remaines to be seen.

    • FrankCerbone says:

      Dorsett & Carcillo are too small to fulfill the rolls of policemen on the Rangers. And with the trade for Klein, McIlrath is probably a goner as well.

      Marcus Foligno, Matt Martin, Boone Jenner, & Dalton Prout are bigger, tougher guys with more talent

    • Chris F says:

      Not that I would want Vanek, but the level of certainty surrounding this notion that he is Minnesota bound is absurd. He may end up in Minnesota, and there are reasons why he might enjoy such a trade, but if every North American born player, or every player who has some form of tie to an NHL locale, is going to end up playing for that local team, then why does it so rarely happen? Of all the players born in the Toronto area, only David Clarkson and Paul Ranger end up playing for the Maple Leafs? Hardly much evidence for everyone to be so certain that Vanek is going to the Wild. Besides playing USHL hockey in Minnesota for 1 year, and his wife’s ties to the area, is there anything that people are basing this absolutism on? I don’t get it.

      I assume Heatley is signing with the Flames this summer, along with Hemsky heading over to Ottawa, Miller finishing his career with the Red Wings, and Callahan signing with the Sabres.

      Oh yea, and sorry but Statsny is re-signing with the Avalanche in homage to his University of Denver days. Wow, this is easy. Why hasn’t anyone figured out this algorithm sooner?

      • Mundo says:

        Oh hate hate hate. I like it

      • Walt says:

        This guy knows everyting. No one else’s opinion counts. What an ass!!!!!

        • Chris F says:

          That’s pretty funny Walt, considering I am merely questioning the certainty surrounding Vanek and you’re the one putting forth that certainty. Seems like you’re the one who knows everything.

          Granted, I am an ass, though.

          • Walt says:

            There are ways to comment about a post without coming across like a jerk, that seems to be the case with you. I don’t claim to know it all, and when I disagree with a post, I try not to put people down. That is the message my man!

            By the way, there have been comments made by a number of broadcasters about Vanek going to Minnie, that is why I said what I said! The last being on a broadcast of the Islanders on NBCS, and the hockey insiders on TSN.CA!!!!!

            • Chris F says:

              And that’s largely who I was referring / responding to.

              If your comment was made in a vacuum, I wouldn’t have responded. But I’ve been hearing over and over again how Vanek is without a doubt going to end up with the Wild. Why? Because he played a year of juniors there and his wife is from there.

              This is coming from many so – called experts, and I find the rationale entirely lacking in substance.

              The sarcasm wasn’t a response to you, it was a response to the sensational wave of absolutist speculation that’s been hemorrhaging from the hockey world on this topic.

    • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

      I am in the opinions that Stewart will help the Rangers and come at a reasonable price. However, I don’t know how quick Stewart is for a guy his size. This team is predicated on speed. Can Stewart skate well enough and play 4th line and roll them out like a bottom 6. Giving the 4th line 10 mins and use Stewart on the PP for his right handed shot? Idk.

  7. FrankCerbone says:

    UFA sound right handed durable veteran defensemen 6-0, 200, 27 yr old Matt Niskanen & 6-3, 200, 31 yr old Tom Gilbert are available if Girardi or Stralman leave after the season.

    UFA efficient tough guys that take few PM compared to what they present on the ice Tanner Glass & Derek Engelland are available in off season as well.

  8. The Suit says:

    Don’t see a need for a scoring winger. I think we’re fine with what we have on the roster and what’s on the farm. I wouldn’t mind buying out Richards and taking a shot at Stastny though.

  9. Chuck A says:

    Three D’s:
    – Draft
    – Develop
    – Depth

  10. Centerman21 says:

    The problem with that is those 3 D’s don’t put butts in the seats. That’s what Dolan is worried about and Sather has rebuilt while bringing in expensive free agents and fielding a competitive team. He didn’t have the luxury of finishing last for 3 or 4 years in a row. So he was handcuffed in a way. He has a contender now. They have a shot at the cup this season. It might take some smart moves at the deadline but it can be done with the Defense the Rangers have and Hank

  11. Mark says:

    They will have to sign a center for next year after losing Richards. Perhaps Stastny is the one (I imagine that the Avalanche will be first choice) then also keep Hagelin and make sure that the 4th line still has a little toughness. Not a fan of getting two top free agents and getting the team in that financial situation again.