Wow the Rangers have barely held their breakup day meetings
with the coaching staff and the media but you would think the team is going to
get blown up during the off-season. Sometimes I think people like to freak out
and panic over every single tidbit they think they see when it comes to the
status of the Rangers during the off-season.
Yes they will say good-bye to Brad Richards via the amnesty
buyout as to not do so would damage the Rangers more by keeping him. Sure
Richards had a good bounce back season during the regular season but that is
not good enough of a reason to keep him for the remainder of his contract.
Sorry but from an economic point of view the savings of 6.7 million a season is
too good for the Rangers not to take advantage of.
Ryan McDonagh is signed, sealed and already delivered so other than an arguement about his value as captain nothing else needs to be said.
Other than Richards being bought out if you are thinking
about moving players because they didn’t have a good playoff season that will
be harder than expected. If he did not have a “No movement clause” or modified
“no trade clause” then sure trading away Dan Girardi might be something to
Girardi’s 5.5 million cap hit for the next 6 years is not as
cap friendly as it looks. Girardi had a tough playoff but here is a question to
ponder about him: Does Girardi look like his game is aging really fast because
of all those blocked shots he has taken over the years?
Just like power forwards who see their game slip away at
warp speed, it is fair to think that the wear and tear on Girardi’s body could
be starting to catch up to him. But because of the “NMC” and “NTC” clauses
Girardi has then he isn’t going anywhere unless he wants to.
Marc Staal has one year to go on his contract and too many
have been seeing Staal running off to Carolina to join his brothers when he
becomes an unrestricted free agent. But if you really knew Marc Staal then you
would realize how badly he wants to win. Knowing that and knowing that Carolina
is about begin rebuilding then Staal has a better chance of seeing his brothers
in a Ranger uniform than him in a Carolina uniform.
Anton Stralman as badly as Ranger fans want him to stay
won’t unless he walks away from some serious money to stay a Ranger. A top-4
defenseman who is only 27 and has been improving over the last couple of seasons
is going to command much more than you might believe. Don’t be shocked if
Stralman signs a 5 year deal for 25 million as if you look at the list of
potential UFA defensemen you will notice how few are under 30 years old. Bid
Anton a fond farewell as the money will be too much for Glen Sather to match.
Kevin Klein is not a replacement for Anton Stralman so
please get those thoughts out of your head. At best Klein is a strong 3rd pair
defender who works best with a younger partner looking to find his game at the
NHL level. With Stralman almost a given
to be leaving then Klein’s value becomes a bit inflated as he is not a Top-4
defender in the Ranger’s “man coverage” system but he has to stay because the
Rangers can’t afford to replace just yet.
John Moore is a Restricted Free Agent and depending on which
interpretation of the NHL/NHLPA CBA you believe then he may or may not be
eligible for arbitration. My reading of the CBA says that Moore is not eligible
this year because he only played 2 NHL games in 2010-2011 which gives him only
3 years of NHL experience instead of the required 4.
Still Moore made strides this past season and is only 22 so
he has not even scratched the surface of what kind of player he could become.
The drawback is Moore is a lefty shot as is Marc Staal but Moore does need to
step up next season and having Staal as his partner just might help both of
them improve their games on offense.
Raphael Diaz didn’t set the world on fire when he played and
since he is an Unrestricted Free Agent then unless he takes a pay cut don’t
expect him back. The Rangers also need to make a decision on Justin Falk who
would require a qualifying offer of $1,023,750. Don’t expect them to do that
for a player who only appeared in 21 NHL games this past season.
So where do the replacements come from for the blueline? If
you are looking from within then you have to start with Connor Allen 24 who put
up a decent 6-25-31 for Hartford. Allen who the Rangers are very high on is
also a lefty shot so he works with Kevin Klein on the 3rd pair.
Dylan McIlrath becomes a question mark as the main reason
the Rangers drafted him was Michael Del Zotto’s defensive weaknesses. To play
in Alain Vigneault’s defensive system, one must have good foot work and that is
not a McIlrath strength. But the potential remains as does the use of McIlrath
as an enforcer if the Rangers don’t return Dan Carcillo.
A wildcard will be Matt Bodie who the Rangers signed from
Union College as Bodie comes to the Rangers as a serious offensive option from
the blueline. Bodie is listed as a generous 6’ 165 so he needs to bulk up but
he has scored at every level that he has played. Ranger asst. GM Jeff Gorton is
very high on him and after watching him win the NCAA Championship this past
spring I do not blame him. If anyone might be able to force his way onto the
roster for next season then here is the guy you want to bet on.
Sorry I am not going to seriously consider the other newly
signed prospects from Europe until I see how they handle the adjustment to the
North American game. Calle Andersson offers a real possibility but he is still
a kid (20) and will need time at Hartford.
Petr Zamorsky who comes from the Czech Republic is 21 but
depending on what you view the Czech leagues (I place them right between the
ECHL and the AHL) then think how long will it take him to adapt to North
America. I say at least a full year in the AHL before anyone gets an idea as to
his NHL potential.
Tomorrow we talk about the forwards.