With another disappointing seasons in the books, Glen Sather is getting ready for another offseason as Rangers General Manager. Many Rangers fans were hoping that missing the playoffs in 2009-10 would signal the end of Sather's reign in New York, but that certainly doesn't appear to be the case. It looks like Sather will be back in charge of the Broadway Blueshirts for another season and John Tortorella will be back behind the Rangers bench.
Sather recently discussed some of his plans in the NY Post, his first comments since the Rangers were beaten in the final game of the season in Philadelphia. With limited cap space, several key free agents and several disastrous contracts on the books, Sather might have a harder time doing what he plans to do than he is letting on.
I recommend checking out CapGeek to see exactly who is under contract for next season, who isn't and also just to get a rough idea of what the salary cap situation in general looks like.
So Who Will Be Back?
Henrik Lundqvist, Marian Gaborik, Chris Drury, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Sean Avery, Michael Del Zotto and Artem Anisimov are all under contract for next season and are guaranteed to be back at MSG next season barring an unforeseen trade.
Others Under Contract Likely To Be Back?
Despite what many fans may be praying for, both Michal Rozsival and Wade Redden will likely be back next season unless Sather can either locate a trade partner or waive one of the two blue liners. Of the two, Redden is definitely the player that the overwhelming majority of Rangers fans want to see out of New York. Unfortunately, the only likely way to avoid seeing Redden in a Rangers jersey next season would be if Sather bought him out. With a guaranteed contract through 2013-14, that doesn't seem all that likely.
Matt Gilroy, Brian Boyle and Aaron Voros are also all under contract for one more seasons and will likely be back in New York. But, none of these three players are indispensable and any or all of them could be in another NHL or even AHL city by the time the new season gets under way in October.
Who Won't Be Back?
Donald Brashear won't be back in New York. Unless Glen Sather buys him out or finds another GM willing to unload Brashear and his remaining $1.4M contract for next season, Brashear will be buried in the AHL.
Olli Jokinen who came over from Calgary before the trade deadline is UFA and won't be back. I guess it's possible, but realistically Olli won't be back in New York for a second season. Jokinen will be getting a substantial pay cut from the $5.2M he made last season no matter where he goes next year, but it doesn't look likely that Sather will be the guy willing to offer even a substantially reduced contract.
Ilkka Heikkinen, who had a short seven game career with the Rangers after being signed as an RFA last season will not be back. Heikkinen has already signed to play in the KHL next season.
Steve Valiquette won't be back. He was mysteriously banished to Hartford after a few sub-par performances and his NHL career may be over, it certainly looks like his Rangers career has been exhausted.
Out of Contract But Coming Back!
Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Vaclav (Vinny) Prospal are all free agents but all are expected to be back in New York next year. Regarding Staal and Girardi, Sather said "those two guys are part of our core; of course we’re signing them." Sather then went on to say that, “we want to keep Vinny (Prospal), and I think we should be able to do that if the contract request isn’t out of whack.”
Out of Contract...Likely Coming Back
Erik Christensen, Brandon Prust and Jody Shelley
Alex Auld, P.A. Parenteau, Enver Lisin and Dane Byers [update: just minutes after writing this I see that Byers was re-signed earlier today]