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Ok, I promised I would get this done and finally I got some time to do it (by the way, my hockey team won our championship for those who have sent me PM’s over on the HFBoards, thanks for asking!). The first part here will focus strictly on the players the Rangers have to deal with from within the organization itself. I’m talking about Unrestricted, and Restricted free agents to be. I’m going to do this player by player, and the order I am going to tackle them are from highest (prorated) salary cap hit, to lowest (prorated) salary cap hit based on this past season.

 

Olli Jokinen
26GP, 4G, 11A, 15P
5.25 Mil Cap Hit (1.877 Prorated)
UFA
Let him walk.

Well, if you’re going to start anywhere, here is as good a place as any. We all knew that when the Rangers acquired Jokinen it was as a rental. Even if Jokinen lit the NHL on fire as a Ranger there was still almost no chance whatsoever he would be brought back. He’s wildly inconsistent, is ridiculously overpaid, and doens’t bring anything unique to the table. Olli is a good bet to bolt for the KHL where he will definitely be paid way more than any sane NHL GM would pay him. Then again, Wade Redden makes 6.5 mil a season, so what the hell do I know.

As it stands though, Jokinen is clearly a guy who was at best a weak version of Nikky Zherdev, and at worst another Ales Kotalik, albeit on an expiring contract. Jokinen stood out, in a bad way, as a guy who doesn’t compete from shift to shit, and if you follow Torts even a little bit, you know that that style of hockey doesn’t fly for our coach. Expect Jokinen to not even be reached out to by the Rangers. At least that’s how I would do it.

 

Vinny Prospal
75GP, 20G, 38A, 58P
1.1 Mil Cap Hit
UFA
If he wants a raise, let him walk.

Vinny was the Rangers 2nd best scorer, by 14 points (a substantial number) despite having one of the lowest dollar contracts on the team. He’s the epitome of "bang for your buck" that GM’s spend endless hours trying to find. With that said, I’m not sure I would bring him back next year. The reason I say this is kind of complex. First and foremost you have to ask yourself, will Vinny be willing to take a short term, low dollar deal again? I find it highly unlikely. Last year Vinny was basically a last minute free agent, only becoming available well after the free agent period had begun when few teams had the dollars or roster spot to offer him. This year he will be entering the free agency pool at the starting gate. Everyone will be free to bid, and I find it hard to believe no GM would offer him at least 2.5-3 million dollars on a 1 year deal. And ask yourself, can the Rangers afford that? More particularly, are the Rangers better using that money elsewhere (I’m sure you know where I am going with this, but that will wait till the next article). The Rangers probably will let Prospal go, instead using some of his money to re-sign another one of their free agents, who is 2 spots below this. However, for the sake of argument, if Prospal truly enjoyed being a Ranger, and if he can live with the money he got this season and is willing to leave a substantial amount of money on the table, then by all means, bring him back. I just don’t think this is a very likely scenario. Prospal would be a fool to leave 2-3 times the amount of money we can offer him on the table, especially for a team like ours which likely will not be a cup contender.

 

Enver Lisin
57GP, 6G, 8A, 14P
.790 Mil Cap Hit
RFA
DO NOT WANT.

There is only one thing I despise more than a lazy hockey player. A stupid hockey player. Luckily, Enver is not a lazy kid. Not whatsoever. He is, however, one of the stupidest hockey players I have ever watched in my life. I almost find it hard to believe that this kid was able to actually get past the AHL. I have never seen a guy make the wrong decisions on such a consistent basis more than Enver Lisin. The kid has all the talent in the world. Speed, a rifle of a shot, a good hockey body, but what good is all of that when he is the hockey equivalent of a turnip. Passes when he should shoot, shoots when he should pass, tries to skate around everyone when he should dump it in. Dumps it in when he should hold the puck and wait for support, stays when he should change, changes when he should stay. I get that he is young, I get that kids make mistakes, but to me this kid doesn’t seem like a kid going through growing pains. This seems like a kid who thinks this is pond hockey and will never become an effective pro hockey player because of such a glaring deficiency. He was put on waivers, is young, has a miniscule cap hit, and not a single GM took a flyer on him. That should really tell you something about what the hockey world thinks of this kid. The Rangers never should have traded Lauri Korpikoski, I knew it would bite them in the ass, and sure enough it did. Rangers should walk away from him, not even qualify him, and thank their lucky stars he is gone.

 

Erik Christensen
49GP, 8G, 18A, 26P
.750 Mil Cap Hit (.509 Prorated)
RFA
Bring him back, for the right price.

First, as a stat guy, I think it’s important to note that Eriks first 8 games where he really had no defined role and really had to learn an entirely different system than that run in Anaheim, would probably qualify as "noise". I personally would look at the stats more like, 41GP, 8G, 18A, 26P. Or, extrapolated to 82 games, thats 16G, 36A, 52P. Basically, Vinny Prospal type production from Christensen. The thing that you like about him is that 1) he’s young at 26 years old, and 2)he’s not had success anywhere, and is likely to not receive many quality offers out there because of that. Christensen is the type of player that a GM would take a flyer on for the right price, he has no consistent offensive productivity to fall on, and was almost out of the NHL for good when the Rangers took a fly on him on the waiver wire sheet. Another thing I like about Christensens game is that his points are noticeable. You see him make plays to get his points rather than see him touch the puck before someone makes a play. This is an important quality to disscern, but unfortunately there is no statistic that I can quantify this with other than my own 2 eyes. I think Christensen can probably be had for a 950k contract or there abouts. Not an exorbitant amount, but a pretty good contract for a guy who had 1 foot out the NHL door not too long ago. However, if another GM is willing to put something more substantial on the table, like 1.5 Mil or more, then I would let him walk. Christensen just seems like the kind of player who is a good fit here, and who may be a failure elsewhere (unless the Pens are willing to take a flyer on him). Bring him back, if you can.

 

Jody Shelley
21GP, 2G, 4A, 6P
.725 Mil Cap Hit (.222 Prorated)
UFA
Let him walk.

I think I’ve made my position on enforcers clear. I think they are useless in todays game. I have a very strong belief that a player who can forecheck and hit, is worth a thousand players who can drop the gloves. To me a player who can level me into the ground with a bone crunching hit scares me a hell of a lot more than a player who will drop the gloves with our biggest, toughest guy. You almost never see an enforcer go after anyone of consequence. Fights are always staged events so these guys can earn their cash. I understand that Shelley is a good character guy, but I don’t feel he is all that necessary. I would rather play a kid like Dale Weise or Dane Byers in this spot than Shelley, at least then the kid has a chance to grow into something more. It was the right move to walk away from Colton Orr, the Rangers screwed up by bringing in Brashear, Shelley had a nice finish to the end of the year, but I wouldn’t expect all that much from him. We have guys who are willing to drop the gloves like Prust, who also bring other aspects to the game. There is simply no need to bring in a guy like Shelley. None whatsoever.

 

Brandon Prust
26GP, 4G, 5A, 9P
.500 Mil Cap Hit (.179 Prorated)
RFA
Bring him back

When we first got Prust, I really didn’t know what to expect. After his first few games I was wholly unimpressed. Kid seemed to run around like a chicken with his head cut off, with no real direction or structure to his game. However as the season went along, and I think as he learned to play our system, Prust played better and better. While you can’t expect the torrid scoring pace that he finished off the season with to be anything other than an outlier, it is nice to know the kid has some offense in his game. But beyond that, he is a prototypical 4th liner. He can fight, but more importantly, he hits, and he forechecks hard. He also skates very well, and has no quit in his game. I love what this kid brings to the table. Qualify him and sign him to a nice 2 or 3 year deal around 650k per.

 

P.A. Parenteau
22GP, 3G, 5A, 8P
.500 Mil Cap Hit (.137 Prorated)
UFA
Let him walk.

I think it is pretty clear that P.A. Parenteau is an NHL caliber player. He would make a pretty good 3rd line player on most mid range teams, like us, and he would be an OK 2nd liner on most lower tier teams. The problem is, we have a glut of players who are coming up through our system, and who are already here, who can do what Parenteau can do, and more. If the rumors about signing Mats Zuccarello-Aasen turn out to be false, then I can see taking a flyer on this kid for 1 more season. But I think that Zucc is all but guaranteed to be a Ranger next season, and thats just one more player we have fighting for a jobs that we don’t even really need to be filled. 2nd and 3rd liners we have in abundance, its top line players we need. Parenteau needs to pick up with a team like the Thrashers or the Islanders. I think he makes more sense there than here.

 

Dane Byers
5GP, 1G, 0A, 1P
.500 Mil Cap Hit (.031 Prorated)
RFA
Bring him back

I think I need to be clear on this one. I’ve always been a fan of Dane Byers. I am probably blinded a bit by that, but I really love this kids game. He’s a rough and tumble, get to the front of the net, north south, garbage goal, don’t take shit from anyone kind of player. The perfect 4th line winger to augment a hard working forechecking group. He won’t put up too many goals, but he will give you some quality minutes. I think the Rangers not only should bring him back, but should get rid of Aaron Voros to make sure Byers has a shot to make the team (along with Dale Weise)

 

Dan Girardi
82GP, 6G, 18A, 24P
1.55 Mil Cap Hit
RFA
Bring him back

Dan Girardi has been a spot of contention among Ranger fans. It seems that some people rate him much higher than he probably is, calling him a first pairing defenseman, and some people way underrate him calling him a 7th defenseman. Honestly I think the truth lies a bit between these to perspectives. I know some people suggest that it might take 3 or more million bucks a year to retain Girardi. I say, if that’s the case, trade his rights away and walk away. Girardi is a defenseman that doesn’t have much offense to his game whatsoever, who is prone to long stretches of ineffective defensive play, and who probably is made to look a lot better than he is by playing with a dominant shut down guy in Marc Staal. I would look to bring back Girardi in the 2.25-2.5 million dollar range at absolute most. 24 points from a defenseman is nothing special. He’s a good shot blocker, and takes the body, but hes far from irreplaceable. I have a feeling Danny would take a lower salary to stay a Ranger. I think he likes it here, I think he likes the coach, and I think he has a lot to love about how the fans think of him (by and large.) 4 years, 2.35 per is a fair deal, and I think he would take it. Some job security, and a salary that is right in range with his level of production. If he is looking for 3-4 million, then the Rangers need to trade his rights away to a team that could use him. I’m sure the Leafs or the Canes would love to take a good young defenseman, and would give a fair bit of a return.

 

Marc Staal
82GP, 8G, 19A, 27P
.827 Mil Cap Hit
RFA
Sign him to a 1 year deal.

The Rangers are in a salary pickle right now. They have a lot of horrible contracts on their books, and some kids like Staal who need to be locked up. This isn’t a player you screw around with though. Marc needs to be a Ranger for the rest of his career. I think we all know it. He put up 27 points, sure, but he was a mind boggling +11 while playing 23 minutes a night for an offensive anemic team while constantly being matched up against the oppositions best. That is a true accomplishment. The funny thing here is that Staal had about a month of some putrid hockey, where he seemed to have no idea whatsoever on how to play the way John Tortorella wanted him to play. The fans were up in arms about Torts, but Torts had remedied the problem himself with a heart to heart talk with Staal. After that conversation Staal was a beast, finishing 10th in the NHL in even strength points, and was 1 of only 3 defenseman in the top 30 in +/- who was on a non playoff team. The real issue is what to do with Staal when we have no money to lock him up as a Ranger for the rest of his career, while still addressing the other issues we have at hand. We could, technically, give him a nice long term deal, the problem would be we would have no cash to bring in the impact player we really need. The only solution is to qualify Staal, and sign him to a 1 year qualifying offer, or possibly extend him for a 1 year deal avoiding that mess. Then next season, when he is a RFA again, you trade away a guy like Michal Rozsival, who, at that point, is on his last year of his deal, and lock up Staal for 7-8 year deal. In the long run it will probably cost the Rangers more money to do it this way, but it’s the only way I can see that they can address their skill problems in the short term while keeping an eye on long term salary implications.

 

Stephen Valiquette
6GP, 2-3, 3.74 GAA, .852 SV%
.725 Mil Cap Hit (.270 Prorated)
UFA
Enjoy the KHL.

It’s tough to be a goalie when you aren’t a strong minded cocky son of a gun. Vally has always struggled with self confidence issues and it is so very obvious in the way he plays. He’s the kind of guy who can never rebound from a goal. Whever the opposition scores that first goal against him, the flood gates always seem to open. If the Rangers do a good job and keep the puck out of their zone for the next 5-7 minutes while Vally composes himself, then they can avoid a flood. But it isn’t always that easy, and you can’t have a backup goalie be so predictably fragile. I liked Vally, he seemed like a solid guy, a solid soldier, but there is no way whatsoever you take a shot on him. I doubt any team in the NHL takes a shot on him. Das Vi Danya Vally.

 

Alex Auld
3GP, 0-1, 2.53 GAA, .904 SV%
.500 Mil Cap Hit (.114 Prorated)
UFA
Let him walk.

Auld didn’t really have all that much time as a Ranger, but he gave us some good minutes. I really don’t have much to say about him except from what I have read the Rangers have no interest whatsoever in bringing him back. I’m not really sure why, but that’s the way it is. My guess is the Rangers want to try to bring in Johan Hedberg to be a strong backup for Henrik Lundqvist. We shall see how that works out.

 

Ok, so I finally put all this together. Next step will be the NHL draft. I’ll write that up in a few days.

 

 


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