Happy 4th of July weekend, BSB community! Before we get started, just a quick housekeeping issue: we have our off-season plan contest finalists down to our final three. The finalists have submitted tremendously creative and interesting proposals. The plan is to start unveiling those next week for community voting, however, I didn’t want to bury them at the beginning of a holiday weekend, so you’re stuck with my thoughts.
Without further adieu, here are my thoughts post-draft and post-free agency…
- I feel like I need to start with Marty St. Louis. I’ll admit there was a part of me who was disappointed when the report came out that he was intending to play next year, even if not in New York. This wasn’t a proprietary feeling of ownership or insecurity about Marty making us pay for not retaining him, but the feeling you get when you know that a once great player was hanging around a little too long. It was very difficult to watch Marty struggle this year and I’m happy for him that, for the most part, he went out on his own terms. What a fantastic career, a first ballot Hall of Famer. Thank you, Marty. All the best in retirement.
- I’ll also admit, I’m still sore about the Hagelin trade. I agree with the staff here in the general notion that post-lockout (II) Slats has done a tremendous job putting together an absolutely phenomenal stretch of Rangers success the past ten years. However, I feel as though he stubbornly contracted himself into a corner and refuses to acknowledge it.
- Many of the contracts on this team are perfectly acceptable in a vacuum, many are even bargains. The problem is that there are several contracts that are square pegs for this team’s round holes, and Sather chose to downgrade on a quality player rather than trying to move less prudent contracts for accommodate Hagelin’s salary. I understand that no sane person would trade for Tanner Glass. Bury his contract in the minors. Kevin Klein is a very moveable asset, trade him instead. If the Oilers would give Andrej Sekera 6/$33m, maybe they consider taking Girardi?
- Continuing this massive run-on thought, I do like Emerson Etem as a player, but I don’t think he is a fit for this roster, right now. He is a very similar player to JT Miller, and he is a big bag of tools that hasn’t put it all together yet. The light bulb may go on this year and make me eat my words, but I think the return either needed to be a high-end asset a few years off, or a somewhat known commodity. Going through growing pains for a talented yet inconsistent player in the back half of Hank’s window is not the most logical return, at least for me.
- It became clear once the Talbot trade was completed that the Oilers were the only team Sather really had any interest in dealing Cam to. For some reason, he had a weird east coast issue with the trade, which to me makes no sense. This is a trade for a backup goaltender. Get the best return possible regardless of destination. I get it if you don’t want to send him to the Islanders or Flyers, but why not the Panthers? Or the Canes? I feel like this ultimately diminished Talbot’s practical value compared to the earlier reports.
- The other factor that hamstrung the front office wasn’t their fault, at all. I think had Sather been able to bluff, he could have gotten at least #33. However, the availability of Griffin Reinhardt torpedoed that potential deal.
- As for free agency, I really liked the Rangers’ moves. Clearly the ever present cap crunch potentially saved the team from themselves, but very low-key, value moves put the Rangers in a good position to push their young players into more key, productive roles.
- I would have loved to keep Matt Hunwick, and he absolutely deserves the contract he got for himself. However, $1.2m is too much for a 7D, which he would have been in the Rangers organization. Raphael Diaz will do fine in that role and come significantly cheaper. Plus, he is a right-handed shot.
- I like the Antti Raanta deal very much, as well. I will do an in-depth profile on our newest backup goaltender shortly, but trading a spare part for a guy who has shown he can handle 15-25 games in relief of Hank is a no-brainer trade for me.
- Alternatively, the Halverson entry-level deal was somewhat confusing. It’s not to say he isn’t ready to start his pro career, but where is he going to get the minutes he needs once Skapski returns? Will they send him to Greenville? Will Magnus Hellberg go down? These things usually have a way of working themselves out, but I think I would leave Halverson in junior for another year, and hopefully the Rangers agree.
- A couple things I will be very curious to see:
- How much autonomy will Jeff Gorton actually have in his new role as GM, with Sather still very firmly planted in the organization?
- How much will Derek Stepan stand to earn on his next contract?
- Will the team try to do anymore maneuvering either on the blue line or in the middle/bottom six?
- Will Tanner Glass stand in the way of Oscar Lindberg getting a legitimate chance to stick with the team early on?
- It’s been an interesting week for Ranger fans (more so for Bruins’ fans, hah!), with presumably more to come as we start to lock RFA’s down. Make sure to look for those Off-Season Plan finalists next week, and from myself and our whole staff at BSB, have a happy and safe 4th of July!