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Breakup Aftermath: Who do we Miss the Most?

Alert: the world is NOT ending

Alert: the world is NOT ending

In the aftermath of the free agent frenzy of last Tuesday, it appears that a lot of you (and us, actually) have some pretty strong feelings, mostly negative. Given that Glen Sather is working with a $69M cap hit and roughly every single Ranger succumbing to free agency, I won’t sit here and make a case or assign a grade to one day of a lengthy offseason. We lost a lot, sure, but I’m a huge proponent of the old idea of addition by subtraction. But who was subtracted that’ll hurt the most?

This week has been chock full of articles about how badly we’ll miss Brian Boyle and what a dope Sather was to let him walk. In a perfect world, we keep Boyle and Dominic Moore together on the penalty kill to continue their magic (and their magical bromance when the situation arose). There’s no denying that Boyle played well throughout the playoffs, and for once, the playoffs were a long, joyous time of winning. But we have to think before that, and we have to think about terms, which is something we often don’t do when we have a predisposed feeling about a player.

Boyle remembered his 6’7, 240 pound frame just before the playoffs began. Before that, he played small. He played afraid of the front of the net. People cite the Chris Neil shot in the 2012 playoffs which led to a concussion as the reason for this, and those are likely the same people who cite Rick Nash’s concussions as a reason that the goal-scorer can’t quite drive the net as hard as he once did. Forgive me, but when you’re a fourth line winger with all that size (read: grinder) and a third line finesse winger is getting more netside real estate than you are, you don’t deserve to stay on your own terms with no regard for the cap or the team. Boyle was extremely valuable to the team, but it seems he was more interested in getting paid. Do I blame him? Not one bit. But he certainly isn’t the one I’ll miss the most.

Anton Stralman is a good defenseman. The teams’ resident hip checker, Stralman typically flew under the Rangers fanbase radar, which is a good thing for a defenseman. At the right price, he would’ve made for a great re-sign. But for what he received from Tampa, no way. We’ll miss him, but we’ll miss everyone who left the team, as the team went very far this year. Same goes for Benoit Pouliot, a player who finally came into his own under the right offensive pairing and the right coaching. For these two, you can only wish them successful, healthy careers and hope for them that they play halfway as well as they’re being paid to play.

If the only players we lose are those lost on July 1, then the player that I miss the most is Brad Richards. Richards played like he had something to prove throughout the season, the perfect ‘in your face’ to former coach John Tortorella who, admittedly, was between a rock and a brick wall against Boston last year. Without Richards’ performance this year, the Rangers might not win a game to open the season. With 82 games to play in a season, you need every single game, and Richards has the leadership qualities to know that.

Ultimately, despite appreciating Richards’ efforts, his contract was just not viable. With so many players going to free agency, it was basically impossible to keep Richards around. His postseason play was abysmal (how many times did you scream “get Richie off the point!!” during the power play?), but short of him winning the Conn Smythe, he was a goner. Maybe the Rangers should see what they can do about Nash’s NMC so that their backs aren’t against a wall for the next several years, but having two enormous contracts is just not doable.

Richards might do a great job this year in Chicago. He seems to do well when he has to prove himself. But 1 year/$2M is much more affordable for the Blackhawks than anything the Rangers were facing. For that, I wish him the best of luck – til the playoffs, of course.

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27 Responses to “Breakup Aftermath: Who do we Miss the Most?”

  1. Gary says:

    Another fine article Becky! I am really starting to enjoy your style.

    I don’t know that I will miss any of them more than I would any Ranger that I liked, which applies to all of the above and Dorsett too. But I think losing Pouliot is the most damaging.

    In an exercise in self flagellation I watched the game 5 OT’s yesterday on NHL Net. Pouliot was a good sided body with a lot of mobility and he actually got the driving the net thing better than a lot of guys. At least last year he was motivated to do so.

    That guy was cut out for AV. I don’t like that we lost the combo of some size and speed. This is a concern.

  2. Gary says:

    “Pouliot was a good sided body…”

    Errr, that should be good SIZED although he has a good sided body too, who knows? ;-)

  3. Gary says:

    Man, I simply cannot type today.

  4. RangerTex says:

    Not too long ago Boyle was the whipping boy, suddenly he became a darling, fans are a fickle bunch.
    If I had to choose, I would say first half Brad and second half Poop.
    Good read.

  5. prole30 says:

    I was sad to see Dorsett go and I hope that Carcillo comes back.

    Richards was simply too expensive. Maybe Sather can swing Vinny at half-price.

    Boyle is valuable but he’ll always be a fourth-liner and he wants to be more. Let him prove it elsewhere. If he had taken boxing lessons I would have said keep him.

    Stalman was replaced by D. Boyle who boosted the PP.

    Pouliot is suspect. He did well on one line. I’m not saying he’s another Ville Leino but he still has to prove himself.

    • Ray V says:

      My sentiments exactly. I am sad to see Boyle go, but he is a FOURTH LINER. If he thinks he can do better, like you said, let him prove himself elsewhere.

  6. Chris72 says:

    I’ll drive Pouliot to the airport! Way too much money for a guy who took way too many bad penalties and has one decent NHL season under his belt. I truly believe he was a product of AV’s system. I’m super happy Stralman got his money but equally as happy it wasn’t the Rangers who gave it to him. I’m a huge fan of John Moore and think his best hockey is just around the corner.

    We needed help on the PP and got exactly that with Dan Boyle. Brian Boyle wanted a larger role and it wasn’t gonna be at the Garden. He also didn’t play like a guy 6’7″. The “old” Sather would have thrown a ridiculous amount of money at Statsny. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

  7. Walt says:

    I’ve been a Boyle supporter, and one who was down on him as well. He will be missed for his defensive play, PK, but with that frame, he just refused to drop the gloves, what a shame. That drove me nuts, and I’m glad he’s gone, he can frustrate the Tampa fans now!!

    As for BR, sorry, he is too slow, small, soft, can’t win face offs, or direct the PP. Remind me again, what was he good for?????

    Pouliot was a nice fit with Brass, and Zucc, and will be missed for their chemistry. I wish him well, but I suspect that this season was a fluke, and he will be exposed with the Oilers.

    Strahlman is over rated, have I said that before? He is grossly over rated, scored big on this contract, and also will be exposed for what he is, a journeyman d-man.

    This is all water under the bridge. I suspect the kids will fill in nicely, and we all will forget the names mentioned in you piece this time next year!!

  8. paulronty says:

    Oddly, I’m not thinking at all about those guys that left, except maybe Richards, but I am thinking about JT, Fast, Lindberg, Kristo, Diesel, Bodie & Allen. Bring on the young guys! Maybe we don’t make the Finals with new blood but 2 years from now I see a powerhouse(Buchnevich & Duclair are studs btw).

  9. craig says:

    This was an exciting year for Ranger fans, no doubt.
    We won mainly with speed and great goaltending. Brian Boyle was good for what he does; check, face-offs, penalty kill. Losing him will weaken us somewhat in theses areas but not a disaster.
    Stralmans speed will be missed on defense, so an important aspect of our team on defense is somewhat weakened, but Dan Boyle will rebound from injuries(despite his age) and will be a monster on the point with his shot, a strength we haven’t had, so I think we make up for Stralman. Richards had a very decent year, especially the first half but was not that great in the second half. (stunk in the playoffs).We did great in the playoffs basically without him. I’m over him already.
    Pouliot was brutal the first third of the year, but gelled on his line the second half; but I think I could have score a few goals if I played with Zucc and his playmaking(and I just had hip replacement surgery). Pouliots 15 goals can be replaced. 4 million a year with Edmonton? What a bunch of Fouliots! Tanner Glass, I guess for a tryout year maybe (Carcello came through unexpectedly, why not sign him instead?), but three years? What else beside those cigars is Glen smoking?
    My desperate cry for this year is Oscar, Oscar, Oscar! We need Lindberg to come through at center, BIG TIME! Also it also needs to be Millar time and Jasper needs to mature Fast or we have some problems!

  10. bloomer says:

    No worries Becky, Richards game fell off a cliff in this year and last years playoff. I wish him well also as the Tampabay Calgary Stanley cup finals was one of the most entertaining series I have ever seen and Richards was the deserving conn smythe winner back then. I will miss Brian Boyle but I think Tampa offered him a much better package. The Rangers defence will be fine I actually think ever better with the addition of dan boyle. Still they have a hole to fill in the pivot position it be interesting to see what Sather pulls out of a hat.

  11. Doug Peters says:

    Believe Callahan got back at “Slats” for trade by by helping recruit Stralman and Boyle to Tampa Bay. Definitely took some heart and soul from last year’s roster. These boys will be missed.

  12. mikeyyy says:

    I remember my heroes used to okay for the sweater on their back and the logo on the front.

    They didn’t step on the logo in the dressing room.

    Now they play for the $ they can get and once they get their payday they stop trying to attain greatness.

    A great quote,

    “Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence.” ~Vince Lombardi

    Now find me 20 guys that believe that and we will win a cup.

    • Walt says:

      Mikeyy

      Agree with everything stated, especially the Lombardi quote. What mental midget gave you a thumbs down, must be an Islander fan???????

    • Becky says:

      As much as I love that quote, you need a certain level of talent also.

  13. Frank Cerbone says:

    A lot of this CAP nonsense could have been avoided, if Sather had even “minimal math/finance skills”.

    Those of us that work in the corporate world make up budgets that go 3 or 4 years out; at least at Citibank, NA & Ford Motor Credit.

    Callahan was a UFA; so you move him for an asset that is CAP friendly & under your control for a couple of years.

    Nope, Sather trades Callahan & much of the Ranger’s future (2 #1 picks) for a guy with a $6.5 mil cap his in the year the Rangers will have a whole lot of RFAs & UFAs.

    I guess Sather just follows the Knick philosophy of putting all your eggs in one basket & then cry poverty afterwards.

    At some point in time Sather will be gone & Nash will be “bought out”, permanently injured, or waive his NTC. In the meantime, the Rangers are screwed by Sather’s basic inability to manage the cap numbers properly.

    • TxRanger says:

      What? He’s been one of the more successful GMs in the league for a long time.

      We have more than enough money to resign our RFAs and get a depth forward.

      All that said, I do think a Staal trade is necessary, though. He’s a good player, but he’s not a special player. That and I do not believe he will resign here, so move him this season and get a return.

    • SalMerc says:

      While I agree with the “budget philosophy”, pro teams with a chance to win, usually go all in and pay for it later. While the Cally/MSL deal put us in a financial dilemma, the draft picks are what irk me the most.
      Since the trade was made with knowledge of the impending CAP crisis, Slats needed to keep the 1st rounder as it was all he would be able to afford for a few years.

  14. TxRanger says:

    I miss Nik Zherdev the most. I know this is really late, but I think he gets a bad rap. He had some work ethic issues and not bothering to learn English has got to make for some awkwardness, but I think sometimes its hard to eclipse a reputation. I really thought he could’ve been one of the most dangerous scoring threats in the league.

    • Becky says:

      I mean he’s great if you don’t mind a defensive liability and a diva in the locker room. He bolted for the KHL after a year with the Flyers and hasn’t been doing too much, even where he’s more comfortable and I’m sure making a ton more money.

      • TxRanger says:

        He didn’t bolt from the Flyers. His reputation preceded him, and he was employed incorrectly and often in the press box with the like of Jody Shelley. Zherdev was a top six pure goal scorer being used on a checking line, which exposed his weaknesses.

        He was at a time a part of the Flyer’s best line with Giroux and Carter.

  15. roadrider says:

    IMNSHO none of the guys the Rangers lost were irreplaceable. The problem I have is that they haven’t, you know, actually replaced them yet!

  16. Ken in Shandaken says:

    Just a (plagiarized) thought:
    If the most important thing about sports is who ends up winning, there would be no reason to play them at all. The outcome of any game has no inherent merit; fundamentally, every sport event is an exhibition where nothing authentic is at stake. Yet sports DO matter. They matter a great deal. And this is a reflection of what they represent: The value of competition. The exultation of human physicality. The visceral entertainment of watching greatness. A structured simulation of primordial conflicts we no longer experience in day-to-day reality. The only meritocracy that actually works. An excuse to care about things outside ourselves.
    Feel better, fellow Ranger fans?
    NOW LET’S WIN THE *&^%ING CUP ALREADY!!!!

  17. Frank Cerbone says:

    Success is measured by winning a Stanley Cup with the least amount of resources expended.

    1) Sather has not won a Stanley Cup with the Rangers,

    and

    2) Sather has spent a ton of money, squandered a lot of money on deals he regretted a couple of years later ie. the signing of Richards, Redden, Holik, Gomez, Drury, Kasparitis.

    SO, COULD ANOTHER GM HAVE DONE A BETTER JOB MANAGING THEIR TEAM IN PURSUIT OF THE CUP? YOU BET!

    • mikeyyy says:

      My only argument to this is would any other gm be able to do better and maintain a contending team for 6 years. Without rebuilding.

      Sadly the answer is no. Our fundamental flaw is believing we have a chance without rebuilding.

      The gm is flawed un that he thinks he can put together a team without getting and developing the pieces.