Ahhhhhhhhhhh! Free Agency!

Ah, the first day of free agency. That magical time of year when GM’s completely lose their minds and spent huge amounts of precious cap space on mediocre players. Unlike most other sports, NHL free agency is like a shotgun blast followed by several hours of “musical cap space”. It’s like a bizarre version Supermarket Sweep (note my dated reference) where everyone throws their items into their cart without looking at prices and runs to the checkout. It makes no sense.

In fairness, players want to sign quickly. No one wants to see teams use up all their cap space and be left without that lucrative contract that will set up generations of your family (hopefully). It had gotten so bad that the NHL has decided that a window for teams to meet/woo free agents prior to the formal offer window was necessary. This seems to make for an awkward courting period/possible tampering fest going on between the Draft and July 1.

I wanted to write this piece as a prelude to the window opening at noon. After the insanity of the past day or two and the insanity of this afternoon, I figured any off topic analysis would be lost forever once that bell rung. With Steven Stamkos off the board, I don’t imagine the Rangers will have the opportunity to get too carried away, especially with their defensive anchors still in tow.

Can anyone remember the last time a truly good long-term contract was signed in free agency? Most of the biggest ones have long been bought out or traded (think Brad Richards, Bryzgalov, David Clarkson, etc.). Not to mention the litany of other failed Rangers attempts (I don’t really need to go past Redden and Gomez/Drury, do I?). Don’t get me wrong, teams extract significant value from free agency every off-season, it just usually doesn’t come in the form of the marquee names.

When you look at the list of RFA’s that weren’t qualified and some of the more under the radar guys, I think there could potentially be some solid value to be had, and the Rangers would benefit greatly from mining that pool.  They need to get creative given their current cap situation, and I would hope they would be opportunistic in trade discussions after some of the top guys come off the board.  Take advantage of the tornado swirling around you and catch some desperate colleague off-guard.

Either way, what I am excited and hopeful about as the clock strikes noon today is just more chaos. I had serious concerns that a bunch of trades were made at happy hour the other day. As hard as the local beats may try, you simply cannot justify the Subban/Weber or Hall/Larsson trades. Even a little bit. PK Subban was more concerned with his own brand than the Habs? Really? That’s why you run one of the best puck moving defensemen in the league out of town? Peter Chirarelli, the cost of a probably top 4, defensive d-man with no significant offensive or puck moving skills was one of the top wingers in the entire NHL? Really? Is everybody drunk?

So, please more chaos. I want to see the Rangers handcuffed to the radiator in the police station while watching someone (probably the Oilers) give Milan Lucic 7 years at $7 mill per and watch the buyout countdown begin. I want to see more lopsided trades and GM’s desperately try to pry themselves free of one of the most coveted jobs in the world. Burn it all down. Maybe once we step out of the ashes, Girardi and Staal will be just a little more attractive in a trade…

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  • Nice approach. We are in the deep end of the pool without a life jacket so a possible approach is to have many others jump in with us only to make our cappy deals look better.

    This is where we are? Me thinks it’s time to start singing Amazing Grace. C’money everyone sing with me ………

  • we do have cap issues but now we have to be creative with the deals we need grit, muscle, speed and to get younger

    • I would like to get Martin for that grit and muscle…
      Grabner for that speed….

      and maybe lose 1 of the 2 aging blue liners for more youth back there…

      lets see….

    • The team is pretty young already. They need to get younger on the blue line and add speed and skill, while dumping some traffic cones.

      • Yes, the Rangers being old are a myth perpetrated by lazy sportswriters.

        Even Girardi is only 32 and Staal in only 29.

        • It was a myth last year. The Rangers was the second oldest team last season, according to the NHL!!!!!!! That’s fact…

          Now that Boyle, and Moore are gone, that is no longer the case !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • If the Habs had Weber last season, no way they go straight in the gutter like they did. As much of indictment of the rest of their leadership as it is Subban.

    If Montreal thinks they have a tight window, I get it. They can afford the bloated salary, they can always move the contract when it’s buyout time. They just gave up the moon to do it.

    • There’s no way to know they don’t go straight into the gutter if they have Weber. They lost their MVP for the bulk of the season. We see how many flaws Hank masks over the course of his career, Price is the same way.

      This “he ins’t a winner” or “he isn’t a leader/worth the money/good locker room guy” for individual players being judged against team performance is getting ridiculous.

        • That’s like saying “ask Derek Jeter about that”. You are talking about generational talents, here. These guys don’t grow on trees. Just because PK Subban is not Mark Messier doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a tremendous amount of value or that he shouldn’t be blamed for not single-handedly rescuing a significantly flawed roster from the loss of their best player.

          • Hank covered up flaws, yet the team played well in his absence.

            All I’m doing is proposing that one of the leaders for Team Canada could’ve done that and I’m not alone in that thought. I’m guessing that the Habs will outperform their underlying metrics independent of goaltending next year.

            That’s why they play the games

          • That’s the whole thing. You’re guessing. And not educated guessing, just guessing, because you like the narrative better.

            It’s easy to stick your head in the sand to the actual performance of the player because you like what the alternative represents. Either in history, your personal experience or your lens of the game. Weber is an old school, bruising, mountain of a man with a cannon for a shot. We like those guys.

            However, the reality is that Subban is a much better player than Weber, right now. Aside from whimsical notions of the glory days of the game, there is not a shred of empirical evidence to suggest otherwise.

          • For MTL, save % in 15-16 for goalies were largely the same as 14-15, yet GAA went up across the board.

  • When you see an under 25 player move from team to team to team, then not tendered as a RFA; there’s an off ice problem that the Rangers should steer clear of.

    When there’s a team full of high draft picks that can’t put one foot in front of the other that has to move the 1st pick overall to get anything done, be very careful of who the 2nd player is that they shop around.

    • Sometimes, guys get non-tendered because their QO (Qualifying Offer) spirals out of control.

      If the agent backloads a bridge deal a QO can climb as high as $4M. If a guy is a solid 3rd liner or bottom pair D, his QO ends up exceeding his true value.

      MDZ in Nashville was a perfect example of this. Clearly he is an NHL caliber D, but his QO in 2014 was too high. MDZ had a QO of $2.95M when he was non-tendered by NSH. He signed with the Flyers that summer for $1.3M and was a perfectly fine pickup for Philly. He now makes close to $4M because he proved himself. All he needed was a market correction.

      Non-tenders are not always damaged goods. They can be excellent opportunities for a savvy team.

  • Alec,

    MTL’s team save percentage in 15-16 was .903, GAA 2.81. In 14-15, it was .926 with a 2.20 GAA. I don’t see how those are at all similar.

    • Looking at Price, his sv% was higher in 15-16, yet GAA was up. Maybe that’s just small data set, but 12 games should shake out the noise.

      You can account for the relative difference between Condon’s save%& GAA compared to Tokarski’s the year prior. The team faced more shots YoY, gave up 47 more goals and the drop off on +\- for the 1st pair was much greater than the other pairs.

  • Ironically our cap mess is saving us from offering a bad contract to an above average grinder in the end of their prime. Lucic, Ladd, Nielsen, Backes and Erikson will all get contracts that will be regrettable in about a 3 year window. Signing Kreider to a long term deal around $4.5 mill per is better than signing any of these guys for $6 mill and 7 years. So let’s get tha done.

    We need to move Staal and Girardi in order to get better, end of story. And that does not seem to be in the cards at the moment. At this point just focus on filling in the bottom six and if we are going to miss the playoffs this year then start moving those guys out for draft picks. Maybe throw in a D man no one wants and move on.

  • Hopefully whomever NYR sign,or trade for, have passed AVs’ inspection, otherwise go to the end of the bench or get dressed will be heard. Maybe the GM will figure it out by the end of training camp and start the beginning of the rebuild by changing out the coach. Players have to play, if they don’t its up to the coach to change them out before the next season or free agency.

  • I’m assuming the best news we can hear today is that the Rangers resign Miller, Hayes, Kreider, etc. to reasonable bridge deals (Kreider probably a long term?), and that we added depth like Pirri?

    I feel like Stalberg is signing elsewhere, though.

  • Anyone think the Rangers should look at the recently bought out James Wisniewski? I think he’d be a fine bottom pair D to go with McIlrath or Holden.

    He’s only making $2M from his buyout so might be looking for too much money. But if he’s willing to sign on a one year prove it deal, like Stalberg last summer, I’d be good with that.

    • Wiz on a one year deal would be good. He’s got a great point shot. Something the PP has been missing forever. With the Holden addition, that will further bury McIlrath though. Would be great if that was a portent of shedding G or Staal.

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