Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Rangers Offseason Plans: Roster Moves
As soon as the Rangers were kicked out of the playoffs I immediately started thinking about what players the Rangers should be re-signing this summer, considering that they have quite a few free agents (both UFAs & RFAs). [Link]
Here are a list of a few of the top UFAs (with their 08/09 salary next to them), that the Rangers may have interest in this summer (not advocating for any of them unless I specify it in my analysis below):
Martin Havlat - $6M
Erik Cole - $4M
Marian Gaborik - $6.33M
Daniel Sedin - $3.575M
Marian Hossa- $7.475M
Alexei Kovalev - $4.5M
Brian Gionta - $4M
Chris Neil $1.1M
Mike Knuble - $2.8M
Bill Guerin - $4.5M
Petr Sykora - $2.5M
Mike Cammalleri - $3.35M
Henrik Sedin - $3.575M
Francois Beauchemin - $1.65M
Scott Niedermayer - $6.75M
Jordan Leopold - $1.5M
Jay Bouwmeester - $4.875M
Mike Komisarek - $1.7M
Marek Malik - $1.25M (just kidding!)
Obviously we all know that the Rangers won't be going crazy signing a lot of players who are UFAs because they don't have much cap room. According to Ranger Rants the Rangers have "between $37-38 million committed to nine players, meaning about $20 million to fill out the roster." Meaning that the Rangers have just $20 million in cap space to sign 11 players for their roster.
Drury, Gomez, Avery, Dubinsky, Callahan, Korpikoski - in my opinion those six players are guaranteed to be back next season (unless by some miracle Sather is able to trade Drury or Gomez). There have been a lot of rumors circulating on the internet recently that Colton Orr is not in Tortorella's plans for next season (which absolutely pisses me off!). In my opinion Orr is one of the first players that Sather should be calling this summer. He's a top 3 enforcer in the NHL (best young one) and he's basically guaranteed to get other offers this summer from other teams (i.e. Brian Burke is licking his chops at the thought of signing Orr!) Unfortunately, it doesn't look good for us fans in New York who want Orr to stay. I think that if Orr goes that Sather will look for a player to replace him with more offensive upside, maybe Chris Neil.
The Rangers will have to make important decisions regarding Antropov & Zherdev - will either or both be back? If the Rangers decide to look elsewhere then that means they'll have some money to hit the free agent market with.
I wouldn't be surprised or disappointed if Betts & Sjostrom were brought back - the best penalty killing unit in the NHL last season. But, Sather may choose to only re-sign one of them, especially with the depth that the Rangers have at center (Dubinsky, Gomez & Drury) and the liklihood that Anisimov will make the team out of camp.
Hopefully Sather doesn't decide that he wants to throw a few dollars at Brian Gionta (NJ Devils UFA) because he wants to re-united him with Gomez. The Rangers have enough small forwards, the Rangers have to add someone who can score and add some size up front. It's true that now more than ever smaller players can be a force in the NHL, but you can't have a team full of small players -- no matter how good they are. Also, under no circumstances do I want Kovalev Part III - good player, but past his prime & in my opinion an older version of Nik Zherdev.
Many Ranger fans are saying Hossa's name, but he wants to play for a Cup contender, so he isn't coming to New York this offseason. Also lots of rumors surrounding Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk (UFA next season), who would certainly solve the Rangers goal scoring problem, but it would take a lot to acquire him in a trade and he also has a hefty salary cap hit.
Redden, Rozsival, Staal, Girardi and two young prospects battling it out for the final defensive spots. Prime candidates are Bobby Sanguinetti, Mike Sauer, Matt Gilroy or Corey Potter. If Sather is able to sign Mara to a similar deal to the one he signed last season then he's a possibility. But, chances are Sather will choose to go with a young player on his first NHL contract because of the lower cap hit. I also think that Sather will be actively shopping Redden and Rozsival, but I don't see any interest in either. If somehow he is able to unload one of those two major contracts, then Sather will look at a possible UFA. I think that Beauchemin (Ducks) would be a very serviceable defenseman and since he's underrated, he might not garner much interest from other teams.
As usual, it all boils down to what major contracts (if any) the Rangers can get off of their books. Trading either Gomez, Drury, Redden or Rozsival would clear up some room to add a free agent. But, unless that happens (which I doubt it will), I don't see Sather making many changes for next season.