When the dust settled on yesterday’s insanity otherwise known as the NHL’s opening day of free agency, I took a look at the Rangers moves and thought to myself “meh.”
$4.5 million per for an almost 38-year old defenseman? Three years for a grinder who Penguins fans seemed ecstatic landed in New York? A handful of journeymen defensemen? Not to mention three key members of the Rangers Stanley Cup Finalist team ending up in new zip codes? Not exactly how I envisioned the day transpiring.
So, at the advice of TheNYRBlog’s Adam Herman, I took my Congressionally mandated 30-minutes of yoga timeout after anything Rangers happens to clear my head before writing a summary of the days events.
And do you know what? It worked. At the end of the day, the Rangers filled some big holes, re-signed an integral piece, found some fourth line sandpaper and obtained a ton of organizational depth on the blueline.
But most importantly, Glen Sather didn’t hamstring the team further financially by getting caught-up in the frenzy as some other GMs did…
The Caps signing Matt Niskanen for 7 years/40M is the stupidest thing I’ve seen since the Caps signed Brooks Orpik for 5 years.
— Adam Herman (@Herman_NYRBlog) July 1, 2014
We all knew it was going to be difficult, to near impossible, for the Rangers GM to re-sign Beniot Pouliot, Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman, so it’s hard to blame Sather for Oilers’ GM Craig MacTavish temporarily losing his mind when he mistook the Blueshirts 36-point, 3rd line enigmatic winger for Jari Kurri and offered him a five year, $20 million contract.
I also don’t know about you, but based on team need I’d rather have an established power play point man for the next two years at $4.5 million than a defenseman who scored all of ONE goal last season for the same cap hit over the next five.
And while replacing Brian Boyle with Tanner Glass is a disappointment, especially when you consider the Rangers needed to only pony-up an additional $550K per season to keep the under-appreciated fourth line forward in Manhattan, when a player isn’t willing to accept the role being given, sometimes you need to cut bait. Right, Glen?…
“If you have players that aren’t willing to accept roles, then you have conflict all the time and that creates problems. And I’m not interested in problems. I want people that want to play within the team structure. That’s how you win.”
I have no patience for someone who’s more interested in personal achievements than helping the team succeed. Even less so when I know that player isn’t capable of providing what they’re selling.
Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns yesterday as the Rangers weren’t able to find a suitable replacement for Brad Richards nor Pouliot. So, with just $15.2 million remaining under the cap and four key RFAs still to be re-signed it’s looking more and more like those lost 87 points will become the responsibility of unproven prospects. Not exactly ideal for a team who’s obviously still in win now mode coming off of a Stanley Cup Final appearance and Henrik Lundqvist in goal.
I don’t mean to disrespect JT Miller, Oscar Lindberg or Jeser Fast, but I’d feel a lot more comfortable about the offense if the Rangers could add a RW Radim Vrbata (20g, 31a last season) or RW Lee Stempniak (12g, 22a) at the right price. I might even consider taking a flyer on Canucks UFA center Mike Santorelli (10g, 18a in 49 games) who was on his way to a breakout season before suffering a year-ending shoulder injury in January.
I don’t know about you, but I’d have no problem going into the season with that line-up.
So, the answer to my original question is: no, I don’t think that right now the Rangers are better today than they were when Alec Martinez ended their season a month ago. However, they are in a lot better shape than if they carelessly caved into some of the obscene contract demands being tossed around yesterday, which has provided them the opportunity to become a superior team with one or two savvy signings or trades.
In Sather we trust?