Per Ryan Rishaug, the Rangers had interest in center Mike Ribeiro before he signed in Nashville yesterday. The Rangers are lacking center depth and Ribeiro likely would have slotted in at the 2C position. Per Rishaug, no state tax in Tennessee helped sway Ribeiro, who signed for $1.05 million for one year.
One of the major concerns for next year is the payroll. The Rangers have a lot of money tied into a few players, and the club lost a lot of key players in free agency. Another major factor was that the cap ceiling, initially projected to be $71 million, was announced to be just $69 million. Five key players departed via free agency, trade, or buyout (Anton Stralman, Benoit Pouliot, Brian Boyle, Derek Dorsett, Brad Richards), and another three appear all but gone (Justin Falk, Raphael Diaz, Dan Carcillo).
To counter that, the Rangers brought in Dan Boyle, Tanner Glass, and Mike Kostka. There were some other depth players brought in to help fill out the AHL roster as well (and yes, I’m counting Matt Lombardi as an AHL guy for now).
There are three types of players the Rangers are dealing with now: Those that are signed, those that have filed for arbitration, and those that are non-arbitration RFAs. Let’s break them down.
It appears that the Rangers have signed forward Matt Lombardi to a two-year contract. Injuries really hurt Lombardi’s NHL career, but he put up 20-30-50 in 46 games in the Swiss league last season. His last “full” NHL season was in 2011-2012, when he put up 8-10-18 with the Toronto Maple Leafs. That was two years after his career high 19-34-53 with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2009-2010. His metrics are pretty terrible though.
We need to note the source on this (I haven’t heard of this source before today). I’d like to assume this is an AHL depth move, but it’s rare that AHL guys get more than one year.
Per Darren Dreger, ex-Rangers head coach Tom Renney has been named the President of Hockey Canada. Renney took over head coaching duties for the Rangers at the end of the 2003-2004 season, and coached three full years and parts of two others before being fired in 2009. In 327 games as the head coach, Renney’s Rangers went 164-121-42. Renney’s Rangers also qualified for the playoffs in each of his three full seasons, ending a seven year drought without April hockey in New York.
Last year: 35-29-18, sixth in the Metro Division
Key additions: Mike Cammalleri, Martin Havlat, Scott Clemmensen
Franchise direction: The Devils have finally turned the page on the Brodeur era, but that doesn’t mean the team is any younger. New Jersey added the 32-year-old Cammalleri and 33-year-old Havlat to a group that already includes 34-year-old Michael Ryder, 36-year-old Dainius Zubrus, 37-year-old Marek Zidlicky, 38-year-old Bryce Salvador, 38-year-old Patrik Elias and 42-year-old Jaromir Jagr. The Devils are certainly not rebuilding, but their plan is a little puzzling. Read more »
After a week in Aruba (side note: awesome trip), I have noticed that the Rangers have not signed their RFAs yet (three filed for arbitration), and there appears to be a bit of a panic about this. It’s not a huge panic, the way there was over Derek Stepan a few years back, but there is still a sense of unease that the Rangers will have one of their RFAs poached, and that the priorities of management should be to get the kids under contract.
Unless there is a legitimate concern that an offer sheet could come (i.e.: Ryan McDonagh last year), then RFAs are never high on the priority list in the beginning of July (or end of June). The reason here is that offer sheets are incredibly rare (due to multiple reasons), so teams focus on filling the holes they can’t fill internally via the UFA market. Time is of the essence in the UFA market. Time is on their side for RFAs.
So why the wait now, that UFA signings are pretty much over?
This news broke over the weekend, but 24-year-old forward Danny Kristo signed his qualifying offer, meaning the Rangers will retain his services for at least one more season. Kristo was acquired last summer in exchange for Christian Thomas, and put up 25-18-43 in 65 games with the Wolf Pack last season. Kristo appears to be an offense-only guy, but his offensive zone skills should translate nicely to the NHL level. The problem is that he is a bit of a disaster without the puck, and the organization will need to see a massive improvement before he is a serious consideration for the NHL club.
Kristo’s NHL salary will be $826,875.
Arbitration begins in a week in Toronto, with the Rangers visiting our neighbors up North for three key forwards. So how important will it be to sign each of Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, and Chris Kreider? To put it mildly, the 2014-15 season depends on it.
The importance of the third line last year has been talked about ad nauseum, but for good reason. The most productive line last year is in jeopardy of becoming complete history, with Benoit Pouliot signing an enormous deal in Edmonton two weeks ago. Both Zuccarello and Brassard are restricted free agents, going unrestricted next year, so the likelihood of arbitration going well is high; however, what happens if they follow in Derek Stepan’s footsteps from last year? How important is it that these players don’t miss camp?
Following the news of former New York Ranger and fan favourite Brandon Dubinsky signing an excessive (market representative?) new deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets I was having a twitter chat with well-informed Ranger fan and friend of the blog George Ays (Ranger Smurf). We started discussing the Derek Stepan situation and how Dubinsky’s deal affects the talented Ranger pivot.
Derek Stepan represents a huge headache for the Rangers management. He has already proven he’ll stick to his guns and risk a holdout if he doesn’t get what he feels he deserves and if this summer has shown anything, it’s that it’s very much a sellers’ market. There truly is a dearth of available young talent at the center position. In other words, Stepan knows that if he has a strong season in 2015, he’s getting a truck load of cash.
In fact, the stark reality is that Stepan doesn’t need to be brilliant next year and he’s still going to get rewarded. A young, American forward who has been close to a point/game player (albeit in a lock-out shortened year), who has contributed heavily to a run to the Cup Final and who is arguably the top line center on an original six team? The kid is going to get paid even as a pending RFA. The next deal Stepan signs will likely buy up some UFA years and that’s where it begins to get expensive.