How far will the Rangers get this season?

Frolov Addition Changes The Rangers
The Rangers signed LW Alex Frolov to a one-year, $3 million deal today. But there's more to the deal than that...

Alexander Frolov

Alexander Frolov

Its official, the Rangers have signed Alexander Frolov to a one-year, $3 million deal.  As we discussed yesterday, Frolov has a lot of Nik Zherdev in him and could be an extremely frustrating experiment for the Rangers.  But the one-year deal makes this much easier to stomach. 

The signing also changes a lot that we thought we knew about the Rangers:

Wade Redden is gone.  There’s no denying the inevitability now and even the most unconvinced Rangers fans that thought GM Glen Sather couldn’t swallow his pride and ship his biggest mistake to Hartford, have to agree.  The Rangers have just over $1.5 million remaining under the Salary Cap to sign Restricted Free Agent Marc Staal, obviously not enough money for Staal to even consider.  Staal can realistically expect a deal between $4-4.5 million, and it’s difficult to see where that extra $3 million can come from, barring an unforeseen trade, except through the purging of Redden’s contract.  Like Frolov or hate him, the biggest wish of many Rangers fans has been to see Redden banished.  If Frolov is the catalyst that grants that wish, it’s hard not to be happy about this deal whether Frolov scores three goals or 30.

The kids aren’t going to get a chance this year.  Despite Sather’s claims that the likes of Evgeny Grachev, Derek Stepan, Ethan Werek, Mats Zuccarello-Aasen, etc. would have a chance to win a roster spot out of training camp, the addition of Frolov makes this nearly impossible.  The Rangers have 12 forwards basically set in stone: Vinny Prospal, Marian Gaborik, Erik Christensen, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Artem Anisimov, Chris Drury, Sean Avery, Frolov, Brandon Prust, Brian Boyle, and Derek Boogaard.  Outside of two of the likely fourth liners (Boyle and Boogaard) the rest of the roster is pretty set in stone.  Maybe Dale Weise or Dane Byers can rotate with Boyle and Boogaard and push them for playing time.  But it’s extremely unlikely that the Rangers would want to put their offensive future on the fourth line where they’d get five minutes of ice time a game with offensively challenged players.  We’ve heard raves about the progress of the Rangers top prospects, but evidently Sather has decided they’d best be served by at least one more developmental year. 

Sather has changed.  Yeah, the kids won’t get much of a look this year.  But the host of one and two-year contracts doled out by Sather is critical evidence that he is committed to turning the roster over to the youth, when it’s ready.  Some may be angered that the prospects don’t really have any shot at making the team this year.  But they should be consoled that Sather hasn’t compromised any of the roster spots reserved for the youngsters in the long-term.  Prospal and Frolov will almost certainly be gone next summer, opening two top-six forward spots for kids.  Drury, Avery, and Christensen will all be entering the last years of their contracts and one of them, most likely Christensen, could easily be moved if a third kid is ready.  Sather may have spent some money, but he spent it wisely.  Three million dollars this year alone doesn’t have much impact on the future of the franchise.

Frolov is as motivated as he’s capable of being. Arthur Staple (who has been all over the Frolov negotiations) reported that Frolov spurned a four-year, $20 million deal from the KHL to play one more year in the NHL and then consider his options.  That’s $2 million more this season than he’ll get from the Rangers and $17 million more total.  In other words, a LOT of cash.  Frolov and his agents are clearly peeved at the way the Kings treated him and the way he has been portrayed publicly.  Only time will tell if they’re right, or if Frolov’s reputation is deserved.  But there’s no doubt Frolov has a chip on his shoulder and is eager to prove he not only belongs in the NHL, but is deserving of significant money and is a legitimate star.  Given his talent, there’s at least a chance that it could translate into a monster season.  And if not, next summer he’ll be gone just as Zherdev was last summer. 

The Rangers have three decent lines.  They still are missing the top-end talent required to challenge for a Stanley Cup.  But the Rangers do have three lines that at least on paper should be able to provide some offense.  Obviously John Tortorella will tinker with the lines on a daily basis, but my guess as to how it plays out:

Prospal            Christensen     Gaborik

Frolov              Anisimov         Callahan

Dubinsky         Drury               Avery (Yes, I know he’s not a natural RW)

Boogaard        Boyle               Prust


The goal of the Rangers brain trust is ALWAYS to make the playoffs.  Many believe that the easiest way to return the Rangers to contention is to turn the roster over to inexperienced players and effectively tank for a series of top-five or top-ten picks.  But the reality is the Rangers will never tank.  The goal is always to make the playoffs, and reap the revenue rewards that come with the postseason.  While the constant acquisitions of high-priced free agents and trades at the deadline mean the Rangers are stuck in a cycle of just-making or just-missing the playoffs, perhaps the Rangers deserve accolades for not taking the easy way out.  Maybe securing can’t miss superstars with top draft picks is an obvious recipe for success, but is tanking really commendable?  Teams that make no effort to get better year after year, instead forcing their fan bases to suffer through losing season after season until magically a Patrick Kane rises, may have a better shot at the Stanley Cup long-term.  But shouldn’t the goal of every team be to win now, tomorrow, and five years from now?  Many of the teams that tanked saw a huge revival in their fan bases once they returned to prominence.  But they only lost those fans in the first place because they stunk so badly.  The Rangers are obviously not willing to let that happen.  The front office makes a ton of mistakes, but it clearly tries to get the Rangers to the playoffs every year, even if it sometimes blows up in their face.  And though the Rangers don’t have a top-five prospect, they’ve done an extremely admirable job collecting valuable pieces with the picks they have had, while still making the playoffs four years in a row before this season.  Everyone wants to win the Stanley Cup, but only one team can do it each year.  Perhaps instead of blasting the Rangers for failing to do so, we should consider the fact that the front office tries every year, something a lot of fan bases can’t say.  (I will now duck from flying tomatoes). 


More Frolov:

Official: Rangers Sign Frolov 

Another Nik Zherdev?

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New York Rangers VS Chicago Blackhawks
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

  1 2 3 OT F
Rangers 3 0 0 - 3
Blackhawks 1 1 0 - 2

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