Money or success?
We knew this time was coming. Rangers’ fans knew that as the team’s window of contention began to open so would the period come where multiple essential Rangers would approach contract negotiation time. It leaves the Rangers in a sort of crossroads over the next twelve months.
With Derek Stepan still unsigned, Henrik Lundqvist, Dan Girardi and Ryan Callahan all approaching free agency, the absolute core of this team – Rick Nash aside – is in need of new deals. Whether the Rangers can afford to pay the going rate for all these players is questionable. Brad Richards’ uncertain future, the impending free agency of Anton Stralman, and a potential career year –in a contract year– for Derick Brassard also play roles in the questionable financial future for the Rangers.
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Whether Christian Thomas makes it as a Montreal Canadien is of little concern to Rangers fans, although his smallish frame should fit right in with the Canadian club. Ranger fans, however, should be excited at the prospect of Glen Sather once again acquiring a potential NHL regular from Montreal. In Danny Kristo, the Rangers have acquired a player who has dominated at the college level and who appears to be joining the club at the right time.
With Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin injured, there is a position in the top six up for grabs to begin the year. While there are a few options with NHL experience ahead of Kristo (Zuccarello, Kreider, Pouliot come to mind), none of the options have a top six spot nailed on by any means, and all of the options mentioned can play elsewhere in the line-up. If Kristo has a strong training camp he could easily earn himself a look.
Kristo is a man who has earned accolades. In April, College Hockey named Kristo their player of the year and with 26 goals and 52 points for North Dakota it was an award much deserved. He was a Hobey Baker finalist, WCHA rookie of the year in 2010 and this season – to go with his Hobey nomination and CHN win – he was an all WCHA first team player.
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This July 5th, was perhaps the most stupid free agency opening in living memory. When a player scratched in the Cup Final (Victor Stalberg) can turn his level of ‘performance’ into a four year deal you have to wonder. When Andrew journeyman Ference can – at 34 no less – turn his bottom pair duties for Boston into four years 12+ million you continue to wonder.
When Ryane Clowe – for all his obvious talent – can turn an injury, concussion plagued season and 3 goal production into a five year deal with a significant pay rise you know the last of the sane general managers have lost their marbles.
There were countless deals this Friday that left heads scratching, that made a mockery of the lockout (once again) and left teams who managed somehow to exercise caution in a good position. Maybe it was just that the Rangers couldn’t spend this summer what others could but the Rangers figure to benefit from all this madness.
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Sather spent wisely. (Photo credit: Jim McIsaac)
It is definitely a concern that the Rangers’ association with the sad sack Blue Jackets has grown stronger this week. Putting that aside however and Glen Sather was right to exercise caution in a free agency period that may have been the most idiotic ever. The Rangers went out and added depth. They went out and acquired players who will not excite anyone but in Benoit Pouliot and Dominic Moore in particular, they brought in two players that should help the team down the road.
On a day when players who had just finished abysmal seasons managed to have their agents get them four year deals or significant pay rises based almost solely on availability Glen Sather spent minimally. Benoit Pouliot – whose 2012-13 season would have pro-rated to close to 50 points – got 1.3m while Moore got one million and Aaron Johnson got close to the league minimum. There should be no complaints over the money doled out.
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Has Glen made another canny move? (image credit: Gerry Kahrmann, The Province)
Welcome to the musings. It’s the day before free agency and on many occasions it has felt like Christmas Eve to Rangers fans – the day before the presents arrive. This year is likely to be different as the Rangers are set to be more cautious with the little money they have to spend. Or are they?
Scott Arniel seems like a logical choice as assistant coach. He has run his own bench before, has been in charge of multiple Rangers before and will help Alain Vigneault’s transition to New York because of his familiarity with the ex Blue Jackets. You have to assume Arniel is motivated to prove he’s worthy of another shot as a HC too.
Even if it wasn’t the ex-Ranger many hoped for, Ulf Samuelsson is a nice addition to the coaching staff. The Rangers need to be more physically imposing next year and if Samuelsson can get his style as a player across to the Rangers now he’s a coach it could be a smart move.
Scanning the scrap heap:
With the Rangers unlikely to be major buyers July 5th, there are several players who are no longer wanted by their current teams and are either on waivers or due to be bought out. Amongst those on waivers in the last 24 hours are the following guys who could be of interest to the Rangers in some capacity.
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(Gerry Kahrmann, The Province)
Pat Leonard of the Daily News sat down with Glen Sather yesterday, and the Rangers GM was very candid about the decision to relieve former coach John Tortorella of his duties. Slats said that the “style of play had a lot to do with it” in reference to the dismissal of the coach. Leonard was able to get more details from the GM as well:
“If you look at these playoff games (like the Stanley Cup Finals matchup) you’re gonna see, the style that they play, I mean there’s not a hell of a lot of dump-ins,” Sather said. “I mean, (if) you have to dump the puck in, you have to dump it. But there’s a lot of puck control and hanging onto the puck and moving the puck out, and there’s not stopping behind the net to gain control. There’s a lot of things that are done differently than what we were doing. So you have to look at the style of play. That had a lot to do with (the decision to fire Tortorella), too.”
It’s a very interesting quote, and there are a few things that –if you read between the lines– certainly changed Slats’ opinion of the direction of the team. For the sake of the post, we are focusing on the on-ice product on not on Torts’ personality. From this quote alone, you can see that the organization shifted direction on Torts in a very short amount of time, and it all had to do with on-ice performance.
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The Rangers have yet to schedule a formal announcement, but it’s all but official that Alain Vigneault will succeed John Tortorella as head coach. The Suit will have more on the pros and cons of the hiring tomorrow, but let’s take a look at some key questions in the immediate aftermath of today’s news.
How does this affect Mark Messier’s future with the organization?
GM Glen Sather deserves credit for using his head, not his heart, in choosing Vigneault over Messier as coach. Many surmised that Sather would be unable to reject Messier given their long history, but in the end Sather made the right decision for the team, perhaps at the expense of his relationship with The Captain. The Fourth Period reported that Messier might join Vigneault as an assistant, but it’d be a little surprising to see Messier agree to play second fiddle to the man that was chosen over him. Not only that, but it would be very unfair to Vigneault to have an apparent coach in waiting, beloved by the New York fanbase, looking over his shoulder. Messier could remain in his current post as special assistant to the president and general manager, but that obviously depends on how stung he feels by Sather’s decision. It’s possible that Messier could be so angry that he chooses to leave the franchise altogether. Read more »
Earlier this morning, myself and Kevin were discussing this article by Jim Murphy at ESPN Boston where Murphy dropped a bombshell. Current President and General Manager Glen Sather is considering stepping down as GM of the Rangers. Murphy, who is not a noted irresponsible rumormongerer (he is not an Eklund type), noted that Slats would retain his role as President of the club.
Murphy continues, saying that Jim Schoenfeld or Doug Risebrough (former Minnesota Wild GM) could be next in line. However, he does not mention Jeff Gorton, who took the reigns when Slats had surgery for prostate cancer, as a potential replacement.
During his press conference following the firing of John Tortorella, Sather insisted that he would remain in his current role next season, so perhaps this transition will be a slow one.
More news on this will come in the following weeks, but this is something to keep an eye on. Slats is almost 70 years old, and we knew this day was coming.
Zuccarello scores pretty goals, will he be kept?
Welcome to the musings. It’s not a game day, it’s the offseason and that depresses a lot of us. Let’s see if we can collectively raise some spirits shall we?
The way the Bruins are absolutely controlling the Penguins – probably the most skilled and talent laden team in the league – makes you wonder about the Rangers Bruins series doesn’t it? Maybe Tortorella wasn’t the (main) issue. In terms of execution, the Bruins are the best team in the league.
Here at the site, we’ve already begun to touch on free agency, internal movement and candidates to bring in. Looking at the free agent list, it’s incredibly underwhelming. The Rangers need to move forward and try to win while they have Lundqvist, of course they do. However, they really shouldn’t chase name players and throw money around because they have a sense of urgency. That would be suicide.
Assuming they make it to free agency, here are some players I’d consider under the right circumstances: Clarke MacArthur, Tyler Bozak, Viktor Stalberg and Bryan Bickell. There’s a chance none of them get to free agency but all address needs on the Rangers.
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As the feeling of shock lifts from the Ranger fan community, we’ve begun to examine some possible replacements for coach John Tortorella. The new man behind the bench will be the story of the offseason, but the departure of Tortorella could also have an impact on many other important decisions the franchise will make.
Henrik Lundqvist will sign a contract extension
I still believe that The King’s comments on Monday were harmless, but many Rangers fans panicked over Lundqvist’s hesitation to commit to New York long term. To me, Lundqvist was only being smart before negotiating what should be his final NHL contract, one that will put a massive dent in New York’s payroll going forward. Nevertheless, there have been some clues that Lundqvist was less than thrilled with Tortorella. With the ornery general out of the way, no amount of money or years should be an obstacle in locking up Hank for the next eight years. Firing Tortorella was a strong message to Lundqvist and others that New York recognizes its window won’t be open indefinitely and that there’s a sense of urgency every year to bring home the Cup. Expect Lundqvist to ink a new pact this summer. Read more »