Photo: Bruce Bennett (Getty Images)

Photo: Bruce Bennett (Getty Images)

Ironically, Keith Yandle’s contract with the Florida Panthers is one I would consider reasonable. Too long? Sure. That’s free agency for you. Too much? Maybe slightly, but it’s not an ugly contract for a club, unlike the Rangers that has cap space and a young core, in the ascendancy.

With that all said, if the Rangers are going to show financial restraint (aka not signing Yandle et al) during the next few weeks then that is absolutely fine, they just need to be consistent and stick with it. Don’t throw good money after bad.

The next week or two will tell us if the Rangers are learning from previous mistakes (and the previous regime) or whether they are absent a concept. Most fans, bloggers, media types have no idea how Jeff Gorton is intending on addressing the immediate future and that is causing angst amongst an already angst-ridden fanbase.

The Rangers simply must not overpay in free agency. As a person very much in the ‘Sign Steven Stamkos’ camp I am slightly contradictory in that the Rangers need to show restraint. I just happen to believe a 27 year old 50 goal scorer is worth a significant investment, but I digress.

The Rangers will inevitably be linked with Milan Lucic and any other big name that hits the July 1st free agent frenzy. They must avoid that kind of bad contract. Stamkos is absolutely the only big name player worth pursuing.

Instead, Gorton must address the roster by showing he has inherited Glen Sather’s ability to make smart trades and move pieces from the roster that are no longer wanted or needed. Barring minor tweaks, Gorton should go nowhere near free agency – free agency is fool’s gold. Even more so now that the Yandle’s and Goligoski’s are off the market.

If the Rangers are going to force contention for next season it will end badly because this team is in transition, even when the core of this team is absolutely fine. The Rangers have enough about them that with a few smart moves there’s no reason they can’t contend next year. Key word being: smart.

The kind of ‘risky move’ the Rangers need to make is maybe investing a 3rd round pick in a player that’s fallen out of favour with his current team. TSN reports suggesting Edmonton’s much maligned, yet immensely talented winger Nail Yakupov being available for a mid round pick is exactly the kind of move the Rangers should be making.

With little risk attached (if the price of a 3rd round pick is to be believed), Yakupov could be a great addition. He could benefit from better teammates, a better structure and a winning culture as opposed to the mess he has been in, up in Edmonton.

In short, Jeff Gorton needs to be smart. (Mostly) avoid free agency, find potential bargains and be savvy with his moves. Nail Yakupov could be a good example. The Rangers have an opportunity to retool and still contend. It all depends on how much they’ve learnt from their recent past.


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