With the announcement of the schedule coming later today, those of us who were stuck in a catatonic state of denial are slapped awake to notice that, hey, when your team loses in the Cup Finals, there isn’t really that much time til next season. The Rangers open up in St. Louis on October 9, followed by their home opener against Toronto on October 12. That’s really not that far away, so rejoice! On to some random musings that have crossed this mind for the past few days…
- The Brad Richards buyout made me feel a lot of feelings. I fully believe that it had to be done, and I fully believe that he should have been kept on for this past season. The thing to remember is this: without Richards, the Rangers win nothing in the beginning of the season and perhaps don’t come back at all. Maybe without Richards, the Rangers don’t trade for Martin St. Louis who was undeniably a huge factor during the postseason. It’s a little disheartening.
- That being said, Richards HAD to be bought out. During the Cup Finals, he was slow as can be. Maybe his training was too hard and maybe he comes out next season on a new team and can make it through the Finals, but for how many more years? You can’t really blame his age; MSL is 39 (happy belated!) and Dominic Moore, who didn’t play at all during the 2012-13 season, is 33. Richards is a good player, but it appears that he’s over the hill.
- One last thing on the Richards buyout: it was perfect professionalism shown on both the Rangers side and Richards’ camp in the post-buyout statements. I never thought I would really have to consider any of this once John Tortorella was gone, but after the Canadiens series and seeing so much horrendous PR, you have to tip your cap to the Rangers PR and Richards’ agent.
- On my re-sign wishlist: Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard, Benoit Pouliot, Dom Moore. If Anton Stralman will take a contract to stay in New York, I would be thrilled; unfortunately, my gut says both he and Brian Boyle are goners.
- Boyle is going to pull a Brandon Prust, and he isn’t wrong to do so. Boyle was alright during the season and worked his tail off during the playoffs. I would be thrilled to overpay if I had any confidence that Boyle’s postseason efforts would last through 82 games, but I’m a believer that it wouldn’t. If he’s able to get paid (and I mean PAID), at 29, he absolutely should go for it.
- If Brassard, Pouliot and Zuccarello can all be re-signed, how dangerous can they get? Think about it.. two flaky players who have never played to their first-round pick names and a 5’7 bulldog of a winger all hitting their maximum potential. It’s scary to think about just how good they could all be if they’re all consistent and have the confidence of playing together with that chemistry. Makes me pray for some good news about some signing…..
- Is it acceptable to be somewhat worried about Dan Girardi? With just a dislocated pinky during the playoffs, he played down to his early season performance. Just thinking about that series in Game 5 of the Cup Finals where he basically practiced his passing with a Kings forward in front of Henrik Lundqvist is enough to make me break out in hives. G will have to do some WORK this offseason to make sure that doesn’t happen… and I don’t mean work on his new home that was funded by a generous extension.
- My pick for letters next year: Ryan McDonagh with the ‘C,’ St. Louis and Derek Stepan with the ‘A.’ It’s been reported that Stepan’s spot on Team USA was primarily due to his locker room leadership skills. Heck, he even coined the name of the ‘Meat Line’ of Dustin Brown, David Backes and Ryan Callahan. If that’s not endearing, I’m not sure what is.
Some questions for you:
- Who get the letters next year?
- Should we be concerned about Girardi?
- Who do you want to see re-signed the most? Who do you want to get rid of the most?
- What does Rick Nash need to get going again?