State of the Rangers

Getting the Balance Right

Over the course of the summer there’s a very good chance a substantial amount of experience will be leaving the Rangers. This could leave the Rangers with a veteran/leadership void and despite the Rangers admirably going down the youth path (obviously the right course of action long term) they must be wary of leaving the club too ‘green’ in the short term. This could mean some unpopular decisions on roster places and players.

Even daring to assume the Rangers acquire Brad Richards (obviously possessing a ton of experience) there’s a very good chance an abundance of NHL games worth of experience will leave the club. Vinny Prospal seems a prime candidate to leave given his age and recent injury, Sean Avery’s position is becoming increasingly unclear – as is Chris Drury’s – while Bryan McCabe is on an expiring contract and it is unknown how much he will cost to keep and whether that’s a route the management want to go. Then there is the solid foot soldier Ruslan Fedotenko who was a good, cheap veteran addition but hasn’t been the same since his initial injury; Fedotenko is also on an expiring deal.  Without even considering the ‘merits’ and future of players like Erik Christensen the Rangers stand to be much younger in the summer. Or do they?

Everyone assumes Ryan Callahan will be the next Rangers captain and that is likely true but there’s every chance Chris Drury remains (unless he makes the choice to retire) because of the potential experience void – likely to occur – so Callahan’s coronation may have to wait. Chris Drury is no longer a top six forward, he may not even have enough left in the tank to be a full time NHL player but his respect in the dressing room and link between management and team is unquestioned. This may allow him his final season on Broadway – much to the annoyance of 95% of the Rangers following.

The kids are indeed growing up; Dubinsky, Staal, Girardi and Callahan all have solid experience to call upon but the defense remains very green and the forward ranks promises to be almost as young. Will this youthful look force the Rangers to keep an unpopular (older) player or two? Will they bring in veterans to assist, like they did this year? That is something that may concern some Rangers fans. The Rangers are obviously keen to keep going with the youth movement but it needs to be tempered to a degree. Players, considered unthinkable to remain in NY may still be here next year, if for nothing else but the chemistry and experience they provide. It may not be popular but it may be necessary.

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  • To me, the best solution is to lose Drury (either through asking him to retire by leveraging a management position or buying him out) and use some of the cap space to either resign McCabe to a much lower salary, 2-year-max contract or get a comparable but cheaper veteran d-man. The back end is where you need the veteran presence, especially if Richards becomes a Ranger, and having a bomb from the point on the powerplay makes all the difference. While Richards is good with the outlet passes on the man advantage, I don’t think he threatens with the shot from there like McCabe.

    Altogether I think your article is spot-on though, and as much as he is overpaid Dru is the perfect 4th-line, PK center (like Betts was). Now if we could just get him to take 750K instead of 7.5 mil or whatever his ridiculous salary is…

  • “Will this youthful look force the Rangers to keep an unpopular (older) player or two? Will they bring in veterans to assist, like they did this year? ”

    I think they’ll end up doing exactly what they did this year, aside from throwing various kitchen appliances at Richards. Guys like Prospal, Fedotenko, McCabe…1 year deals who plug gaps that aren’t filled otherwise.

    I’d expect a ‘veteran’ defenseman to replace Eminger/McCabe as well.

  • Great post Chris.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Drury retire, and the Rangers replace that cap hit with Richards. McCabe I think should be brought back, as they have a lot of defensive depth, but little offensive depth on the blue line. Nothing wrong with having him and MDZ man the points on the PP. The Girardi/Staal/Sauer/McDonagh quartet should be good enough to cover the defensive lapses.

  • I would not mind seeing a lot of one year deals to players like McCabe, Boyle, Artem, Feds, Prospal, Gilroy, Frolov (1.5), this will allow for the summer of 2012 to have a lot of expiring contracts and managment can really evaluate palyers and see who is worth keeping long term. Cally and Dubi have proven that they are worth keeping long term. Sauer could go either way long term or a one year dear. The only free agent worth getting is Richards, unless Sather can swing a major trade. 2011/2012 is going to be another rebulding year with higher exceptations!

  • I am concerned with the vets leaving. If that void is filled by young up and comers then we are still in a rebuilding phase. Will dubi even stay? Those Alaska boys are a greedy bunch.

    Will the youts be ready to take the reigns?

    Big question marks. No real answers.

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