OffseasonState of the Rangers

Patience is a virtue

As the third day of free agency begins, it’s hard to see how the Rangers have improved so far this summer.

GM Glen Sather has watched many of his depth players depart via free agency and has spent only $3.5 million total on a fourth-liner and a seventh defenseman.

But it’s a long offseason.

Sather remains engaged in trade talks with Columbus regarding 28-year-old left wing Rick Nash and is still surely targeting several unrestricted free agents, one of which is likely Shane Doan, who has a number of contending suitors ready to duel for his services should Phoenix’s ownership situation remain unresolved by Monday.

Though pickings are slim on the free agent market, there’s still a very strong chance that Sather will make a couple of significant moves in the coming days and weeks.

But for a moment, perhaps we should step back and consider the Rangers’ roster as currently constructed.

Obviously there are a few holes that must be filled by prospects or mercenaries, but for the most part, New York is in a pretty enviable position.

It’s easy to imagine “what if?” scenarios given how close the Blueshirts got to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012, but the reality is that the organization is way, way ahead of schedule.

There’s no rush to add that one missing piece today, tomorrow, or even this summer.

While there’s certainly an argument to be made that the Rangers are built to win now while Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards and Henrik Lundqvist are in their primes, each still has at least a few strong seasons left, if not more.

Even in the wildest dreams of Rangers’ executives, 2011-2012 was not expected to be a contending year and 2012-2013 would have been the very start of the window of opportunity.

Sather should absolutely do his due diligence and make inquiries on Nash, Bobby Ryan, Keith Yandle and a host of other superstars.  Any playoff team should.

But Sather should not feel pressured or rushed into making a move.  Thus far he’s held up very well and there have been no indications that he’ll make a panic deal.

And why should he?  Sather holds a number of chips.  He knows he already has a playoff caliber roster featuring the best goalie in the world, arguably the best top-four group of defensemen in the league, a couple of superstars up front and a young core that still has plenty of room for improvement.

Sather has the means to pull the trigger on a deal for Nash, but he doesn’t have to.  There will be other big names that come on the market and may make more sense for the Blueshirts both from a financial standpoint and that require lesser pieces in a return package.  While Columbus knows it has to dump Nash, Sather by no means has to cooperate with Jackets GM Scott Howson.

And if that means the Rangers enter the season without any major improvements, so be it.  The Rangers are still poised to be a solid playoff team and if things go well, there’s no reason they couldn’t surprise again just as they did last season.

Chris Kreider could become a 30-goal scorer in short order, Derek Stepan has only begun to scratch the surface of his offensive ability, Ryan Callahan has just recently established himself as a fearsome scoring threat, Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov are both capable of far more production, Ryan McDonagh is emerging as a future All-Star, Michael Del Zotto is slowly developing into a deadly weapon from the blueline and the list goes on and on.

Sather knows all this and even if you believe that is a very glass-half full attitude, remember that New York’s core group is the envy of the league.

If Sather can’t get the player he wants at a reasonable price now and still deems a major acquisition necessary, then he’ll have plenty of chances to bring in another big fish in six months or next summer.  But he shouldn’t feel obligated to make a splash because the Blueshirts are on the rise, with or without a major addition.

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  • Ijust hope he stays the course , Lot of ifs . If Dubie ,if Boyle , if AA , if Stepan , big if Kreider , if all can score between 18 and 22 goals could be a good year in Rangerville. Think Cally is realy only good for 20 or 22 also and Hags who knows where his potential will lead .I would be happy to start the season with this group and see what we need at the trade dead line . Sather still meeds to add some pieces with out a big splash . You can give Thomas Miller and Bourque and some of the other kids a look

    Hags Stepan Dubie

  • We had scoring issues all year with a team that showed the inability to break out of it’s own zone very well. None of the players added or subtracted did anything significantly to help, although Prust was good on the PK and Mitchell good on face-offs. If we are to step up, we need to put a player on the ice that the opposition fears. I doubt Stepan, Dubi or even Kreider do that at this point. Losing Gabby for at least a month may either allow someone else to shine or show us how glaring our scoring needs really are. I still think Semin, for all his negatives, puts a player on the ice other teams are wary of. Nash would be nice, but at what cost?

    • Just do the math and chemistry on Nash. First the math: Steps goals + McDonagh goals + AA goals + Dubi’s goals = close to thirty . So if nash scores 30, how did you improve the team ? Subtracting McD defense and the chemistry of all the players, and the team loses big time = more goals against…..simple (NO to Nash)

  • I was just on Sports Illustrated looking at the biggest free agent busts since 1997. The Rangers have 8 out of 24. I don’t believe that there is another team that comes close to having as many players listed. With a record like that, I’m happy if they don’t anything until after the season starts. The Rangers don’t need to over pay.

          • That’s true, but as a fan you don’t get a warm and cozy feeling when every other picture is someone in a Ranger jersey. Dave, all kidding aside, I think last year they were finally on the right course. I’m hoping that the Rangers don’t get caught up in the frenzy and do something that we all will regret.

        • Lndros was far from a bust in NY. In fact he played far better then many thought he would. I grade him a B- As for Fluery Ialso dont think he was a bust. He gave his all. The rest of the team around him was aging and slowly becoming useless.

          • They both, Lindroes, and Flury sucked big time. I hated that Lindroes deal from day one, and that junckie Fluery was aslo bad news. They both were cancers!

          • I’m with Ricky on this one. Fleury was leading the league in goals the year he had to sit out for substance abuse at the time he was asked to sit out.

  • Is it possible for Sather to make a trade for a guy who isnt mentioned in trade rumors like Stamkos, Patric Hornqvist, Giroux, Max Pacioretty, joe pavelski, Burrows, Milan Lucic?

  • Everyone is waiting for Parise, I say let him go. The man is asking for $12 mil signing bonus now, and $12 mil signing bonus next year. Are you crazy, let the clown go, thats $24 mil in bonus’ alone.

    Nash would fit in nicely, but don’t give away the store. The demand for him is too high, so look at who else you can get in trades. The Kane kid would be wonderful fit for us. He can score, goes into the corners, checks, soft hands, drops the gloves, and he is still a kid. That is the type of move that should be made, let Parise rot on the vine!!!!

    Also let’s not forget that Parise had a bad knee injury, and who wants to chance another bad knee, with $24 million in bonuses alone? NOT ME!

  • It has not been a productive off-season so far. We’ve lost Prust and Mitchell. Putting aside the financial merit of letting Prust go, the club took a step backward on the ice and in the locker-room when he signed with Montreal. And Mitchell had a good season as 4th line center; very responsible, defensively.

    The key statement by Tortorella after the play-offs related to our lack of depth as being a factor. Well, we now have bigger depth holes than when the season ended.

    I do not fault Sather for this — I think he is maintaining discipline in the face of big contracts being thrown around. This will help us at some point and, mitigating some of these concerns is the fact management is opting to give guys like JT Miller and Marek Hrivik a chance to make the team.

    Yet, given our brand of hockey, we have some holes to fill and our options are dwindling.

    • I disagree on the bigger depth holes. They are exactly the same holes. The 4th line played very little in the playoffs because of who was on the line not because of injury. Mitchell stepped in did his best but didn’t contribute enough to warrant that spot in the future.

      Prust saw a lot of time as a 3rd liner for the past 2 seasons and ate up some ice time that could have gone to someone with more skill. Yes, the holes in the depth chart are still there but they didn’t get that much bigger. Plenty of time left in the offseason.

      • I believe that Pyatt and Asham will more than compensate for the loss of Prust and Mitchell in terms of goals. Toughness is a wash. I too believe that JT Miller, C. Thomas, or Hrivik will get a chance to join the club and bring offense. No need for any more outside the organization transactions.

  • I know people want to make a big splash but, as i commented on, when you look at the amount of guys on our team that are virtual babies you realize that (because of their experience the past season) they’re all going to be better and hungrier come September. We can’t forget how the season ended. Us as fans have already moved on, but as a player that leaves an awfully sour taste in your mouth.

    Hagelin, Kreider, Stepan, Mcd, Del Zotto… hell even Staal are going to come to camp hungrier, more experienced, hopefully healthy, and ready to go. I’m not denying that Rick Nash has the potential to be a huge power forward for whoever lands him, I just think Derek Stepan has some serious #1 center potential. At 21 he had over 50 points. By 25 dude can be a consistent beast.

    I know people are clamoring because we haven’t signed every big name yet, but we should relax… yes we overachieved as a team last season, but this organization has drafted incredibly well the past few seasons and Prust and Mitchell’s departure will be rectified by someone from Hartford and/or Feds resigning at a bargain price.

    In all honesty my targets of choice happen to be Ray Whitney and Shane Doan over Rick Nash (because of cost not talent or potential or age). All 3 guys fit in with the Rangers philosophy so that’s not a problem. Well… now that I’m thinking about it a line of Nash – Richards – Gaborik does make me drool, but Nash’s cap hit does scare me with our potential RFA’s as well as guys like Lundqvist needing to be resigned at some point.

  • I say we go after Pyatt and Wellwood for depth And Kostitsyn to fill in for Gabbs. And if he works out we have another goal scorer for when he returns. Then make a trade for Kane instead of Nash.

  • What people should also look at is that with this years poor FA pickings, this is the year to allow some of our rookies to show us what they have. Next year if we need to then we can splurge. I think for me the one player that stands out the most is Christian Thomas. If he can come in and score the goals he is known for it just may be the blessing in disguise we need. Same thing holds true for St Croix and Miller, to improve in their development. I think McIlrath will get a full year in Connecticut and progress his game.

    Stralman should be signed when all said is done and I hope that Sauer van make a return to the line up hopefull sooner rather than later next year. Eminger is a steady fill in for now and wont be a bad option.

    So until Gabby gets back Kreider will have plenty of opportunity to grow his game in Gabby’s absence.

    It is an opportunistic year for the growth of our prospects and I firmly believe we will see Dubi for sure and maybe Arty improve from last year. I still think Trots should seriously consider experimenting with Dubi as a centerman and see how that pans out. A line of Dubinsky with Hagelin and Callahan as our third line/ 2A can be a very fun line to watch. Kreider with Stepan and Thomas will also give us a look at our future number 1 line. Gabby, Richards and a Power forward (Miller?) is the only major question mark.

    • I agree 100% with your stay the course philosophy. One comment. Maybe your philosophy of bringing in homegrown youngsters is why Slats got Asham, Haley, and Pyatt – to add toughness to cover the kids……….

  • No need to rush or panic…but there ARE pieces this team is missing. Last year there were no expectations in the playoffs — this year there is. We know that this yeas’s FA crop is poor, but please don’t give me the “next year will be better” line. In sports, you need to win during the window of opportunity a team has — and the window for this team is the next 2 years!! Let’s not blow it waiting for Dubi to re-invent himself. Let’s get some guys in here that want to win at all cost.
    For me the addition of Nash cant be overstated —big, hard to play against, fast and scorer. It makes the team a 2 line nightmare to play against. Nash for Dubi, Stepan, Bickel & Draft choice.
    But to me, the biggest free agent signing would be Doan. I live in LA and saw him play against the Kings in-person during playoffs (he was awesome). Other advantage is would only need 2-3 year deal.
    Go Slats !!!

    • There is no way we are getting Nash for what you are offering Unless we were the only team he was willing to come to…

      Other teams would be stupid enough or have enough to throw the house and the Kitchen sink at Nashville

    • I don’t know where you get this “window” timeframe of two years. Have you looked at the age of the Rangers players ?? They are all young and will develop. You are wrong about winning now. Think about it….you advocate getting rid of 4-5 players under 26 years old in order to get one player at 28 ! Doan will not cost players so I wouldn’t mind adding him. The Rangers are poised with their youth and organization to compete for years at a high level. They won the east last year without nash and can do it again and again and again….

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