The offseason is in full swing for the Rangers. There is a lot of work to do with this team, and you can bet your life savings that the team will be hard at work to fill holes and make the team better heading into next season. While we can all debate what we believe “making the team better” means, which have countless times, it’s that time of the year where we see these plans coming to action.
Since it’s a rainy, lazy Sunday. Let’s go through some predictions for this offseason.
- Pavel Buchnevich is now officially free from his KHL contract. I think he signs with the Rangers soon, as in this week. It’s a no-brainer that he signs, since he is the most highly touted prospect this organization has seen in recent memory.
- Ok, that first prediction wasn’t exactly ground breaking. So how about this one? The Rangers will, at the very least, target Alex Radulov so that Buchnevich has someone who speaks Russian on the team. Comfort level is a huge concern with a lot of Russian players, and Radulov is probably one of the best Russian free agents available. There are concerns about Radulov’s character after bolting from Nashville to the KHL, but that was a kid making those decisions. Radulov is a veteran and more mature now. I am assuming he can be a good mentor for a young, talented countryman.
- The club will sign at least two undrafted UFAs. Ahti Oksanen is the kid that Josh is all over, and it’s tough to dispute the kid’s talent. I think he’s one of the major prizes for this team. Josh is also high on Jerrett Smith, but I think Oksanen is the sure-thing to sign with the Rangers.
- Now on to the juicy stuff: I think the Rangers will trade one of Dan Girardi or Marc Staal at the draft. These guys have name-brand value and –at least in Girardi’s case– you can at least sell partial blame this season on health. Defense is still a hotly contested position when it comes to value, and there is still room for the team to get out from under one of those deals.
- Why only one? Well it’s simple. Turnover. Let’s assume that one is traded, Dan Boyle retires, and Keith Yandle gets a dump truck full of money from Toronto. That’s already half the defense. Unless they can guarantee that Yandle returns, only one, probably Staal, will be shopped.
- I think Rick Nash will be traded. There is absolutely no proof I have here to say this, but I think he will be dealt at the draft. I can’t predict a return for him –or one of the defensemen– so don’t ask.
- Viktor Stalberg will not get a Benoit Pouliot deal, and will be back next season. He’s the perfect versatile forward for this team.
- Alain Vigneault will not be fired.
- Jeff Gorton makes enough headway with this roster that he gains the trust of his doubters following the Eric Staal trade and Daniel Paille signing.
- The Rangers will get back into both the first and second rounds in this year’s draft.
I’ve had a lot of folks tell me I’m crazy, and they might not be that far off. What do you think the Rangers will do?