My apologies for the lack of activity. I’ve moved, had to deal with a TON of work and personal stuff that has pretty much rendered me scheduled 24/7 *sigh*
Ok, so, let’s get down to business shall we? The NHL draft is less than 24 hours away and we know the trade talks will heat up and eventually something is going to happen right? This is the time to spell out what my gameplan would be if I were the GM of the New York Rangers.
Fist, let’s talk about the team as it stands right now going into next season. The Rangers will be without their leading point scorer and most dangerous offensive weapon, Marian Gaborik, till probably November or December, assuming the season starts on time, which it likely will not. They will, however, have Marc Staal to start the season, and that is excellent news considering they were without the all-star defenseman till New Years last season. So going into next season our lines will look something like this as it stands today.
Hagelin – Richards – Dubinsky
Kreider – Stepan – Callahan
Anisimov – Boyle – ??????
Rupp – ????? – ?????
Mcdonagh – Girardi
Staal – Del Zotto
???? – ?????
Let’s start with the goalie. I know everyone loves Marty Biron, but if you crunch the numbers you’ll see there are actually many better options. Personally, I’d let Biron walk. Nice guy, but he’s probably going to want a raise, and frankly his play probably dictated that he should get a pay cut. He was outstanding to start the season, and his quick start is the only reason he didn’t have a save percentage in the mid 800′s. Personally I would sign Hedberg. He’s older, but in my opinion, steadier, and just flat out a much better goalie than Biron, even at his age.
The defense has several holes in it, particularly since I can’t pencil in Michael Sauer into the fold. I would look to bring in someone like Steve Eminger, a reclamation project, in addition to throwing the kitchen sink at Justin Schultz. Schultz is a legitimate bluechip type prospect. Frankly he’s probably the best free agent out there other than Parise and Suter. That’s all I would do. Bring in a competent 6/7 type defenseman (assuming Stralman is out) and nothing more. I would let the kids play. Schultz, McIlrath and Erixon can battle it out for a spot. LET THE KIDS PLAY.
Next we have our forwards. We have Brandon Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko as UFA. I think both will walk. I love Prust, the guy bleeds Ranger blue, but the fact is, some GM out there will give the guy 2.5 mil a year. That’s just how awful this free agent class is. Teams will need to get to the cap floor, and Prust will help them do that while playing valuable minutes. He’s worth about 1.2 mil a year to the Rangers, no more. We can’t afford to pay him what it would take to keep him, we have too many other important pieces to bring in. Similarly, Fedotenko, who was quite good in the playoffs should walk as well. Never been super high on Feds. A good soldier, but pretty overrated. So this leaves quite a few holes to fill, with the Rangers simply not having many prospects who are NHL ready. MAYBE JT Miller could shock the hell outta us and earn a spot. Similarly Christian Thomas might have a spectacular showing, but I wouldn’t count on it. So, what would I do? I would trade for a superstar forward. I think the Rangers are going to need a lot more firepower, and if I am them, I look to acquire 1 elite winger. Who would that winger be? I have several options….here they are in my preference.
1)Rick Nash. I love Nash’s game. He is big, strong, one of the best power forwards in the game. His numbers have been dampened playing with garbage players his whole career. Bring him in and I think he’s back to his usual 40/40 self of old. Biggest problem is getting him in out OUR price. My offer? Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and our 1st rounder. 2 roster players and a low 1st. I know Howson wants the farm, but in my opinion, he’s got several things working against him. First, Nash has a No Movement Clause, which he has, so far, been unwilling to waiver from. Therefore the list of potential suitors drops to about 7 teams. Furthermore the cap is an issue, Nash is on a mega-deal and it’s tough for the better teams to fit it into their payroll. If Howson wants to play hardball, like he has, I go on to other options.
2)Evander Kane. Probably the least likely of all my options, but one of the most desirable. Let’s just put it this way. I am about as huge an Evander Kane fan as you’re going to find. I saw him live in person many times when the Thrashers were here. Kane is the entire package. Think Jarome Iginla, 10 years ago. I think Kane is without a doubt going to be a 35/35 guy for the rest of his career. Would probably take a kings randsom to get him, but if he’s available, I go HARD after him.
3)Bobby Ryan. Great player, great goal scorer, but needs a kick in the pants to get going a bit. Could be a 40 goal scorer in the right situation, but more likely a steady 30-35 guy. He’s also on an affordable contract, and is younger than Nash.
4)Jarome Iginla. The Flames are probably going into rebuild mode, if that’s true, it’s in their best interest to trade Iginla who is on the last year of his deal. Iginla is in many ways an ideal fit because his contract, while gigantic, isn’t long term, so it gives us flexibility going forward, however there is the very real option we could give up a boat load to bring him here, and then lose him after only 1 year. That’s the epitome of a rental player. This is why I would rather get a guy with a longer term deal. Also, guys like Iginla tend to fade, and fade quickly because of the way they play. Iginla has a lot of miles on his body. I wonder how much he has left in him. Still a 30+ goal scorer though. Iginla also could be used as a 1 year stop gap till a massive free agent bonanza next year when guys like Jordan Staal, who wants to play with one of his brothers, are available. Wouldn’t be the worst option.
5)****Alexander Semin****I have Semin here only because he is available, and may be had for a 1 year cheap deal if he wants to “prove himself”. Never discount the power of $$$$ when it comes to motivating a player. Semin bought into Hunters defensive style, and still has one of, if not the hardest shot in the league. on a 1 year deal in the 5-6 mil range, he could be a steal, or he could be a lemon. I wouldn’t be opposed to it as long as it’s not a monster contract because you do not want to get stuck with a guy who is known to disappear for long stretches. Guy is a legit 30+ guy though, you can’t argue the touch he has.
6)Nobody. Beyond this, I’m not really super interested. There’s talk about Patrick Kane being available, etc, but I’m really looking for goal scorers, guys who can bring what we need. Zach Parise would be on this list except he said he doesn’t want to play here. He’s backtracked a little recently, but that’s probably just to drive up his contract. He wants to play in Detroit or Minnesota, everyone knows it. If we can’t get a big scorer, I DO NOT look to get some of the mid ranged guys since they will probably be overpaid significantly just because of how god awful this free agent class is. Get someone big or don’t get anyone. Rangers can fill in the depth spots from within.
My ideal lineup next year when Gabby is healthy….
Hagelin – Richards – Gaborik
Kreider – Stepan – Nash
Anisimov – Boyle – Callahan
Rupp – Konopka (~750k- 1 Mil) – Prust
McDonagh – Girardi
Staal – Schultz
Del Zotto – Erixon
Young defense, but who cares, our D has been young for how long now? It’s never hurt us as long as we have the Vezina winner between the pipes….