If I'm Glen Sather, here's what I do between now and October to have a better team for the 2009-10 NHL season.
1) Attempt to move up in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft (NYRs currently have the 19th overall pick) or trade that first round pick if it can significantly improve the Rangers offense. [Example]
2) If I'm not able to move up & choose with the 19th overall pick, I choose the best player available. Currently the Rangers need forwards because they have many defensive prospects in the system. But, making a trade in the future is always possible. In my opinion, you always choose the best player available, I don't endorse drafting based on organizational needs for the most part. So, if the best player available is a defenseman, that's the player that you pick. Then, down the road it's always possible to trade that player or another defenseman in the system for a position that is needed.
3) Try to trade Redden, Drury, Gomez & Rozsival - in that particular order. All four players have contracts that are a burden to the Rangers roster and getting rid of any of the four would be a major help. The main goal is to clear salary cap room, getting something of value in return would be a bonus!
4) Sign RFAs Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan immediately. These two players have shown throughout their short NHL careers that they have what it takes to play in the NHL, they are gifted offensively (both legit top 6 forwards) and both are willing to play the physical game. Dubinsky is a future Captain and Callahan a future Assistant Captain.
5) Sign UFA Colton Orr - The Rangers must bring back Orr, he is now a top 3 fighter in the NHL. Orr has improved dramatically since coming to New York and is no longer a liability when he's out there on the ice. Not to mention, he rarely takes a minor penalty, which is something that most other NHL heavies do on a regular basis. Plus, the best thing about Orr is that he loves to fight. He made $550k last season and I see no reason why Sather shouldn't be able to get him back in Blue for another two seasons at $650k per year (or less). If the Rangers don't re-sign him before July 1st, someone (cough, cough Brian Burke) will.
6) Make decisions about the other RFAs & UFAs [as discussed in the past here @ Puck Central]
- Re-Sign Antropov to short-term deal (1-2 yrs) @ no more than $3M/yr
- Re-Sign Blair Betts to a deal similar to the one he had last season ($600-700k)
- Re-Sign Zherdev to the minimum amount possible if I know that I'm not going to be successful getting a similar scoring winger through UFA
- See what kind of interest there is around the league in Lauri Korpikoski, but don't let him walk for nothing
- Let Derek Morris walk -- too expensive
- Re-Sign Paul Mara if I can't sign a guy like Francois Beauchemin during free agency - this signing should be done after considering other options during the opening few weeks of free agency.
7) Call Marcus Naslund & thank him once again for freeing up some much needed cap space for next season
8) Call to inquire about Dany Heatley & Ilya Kovalchuk, see what the asking price for the two is. Call Jimmy Dolan and ask him if he's willing to pay Heatley a $4M bonus if the Rangers can acquire him before July 1st for a lower asking price. [See why here]
9) On July 1st take a look at the top UFAs, to see what they are asking and determine who will fit best into the salary cap limitations that the Rangers have. Avoid making further mistakes by paying big bucks to players who are past their prime (examples: Redden & Naslund).
- Call Francois Beauchemin's agent and see if he wants to leave Anaheim and what his asking price would be.Physical defenseman who is not over-priced (not yet anyways!)
- Call Martin Havlat's agent and see how much the winger expects
- Call Marian Gaborik's agent and see how much the winger expects - try and haggle him down emphaszing that Gaborik is a major injury risk and refuse to sign a long-term deal.