Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Departed Rangers So Far

Brandon Prust
I'm not going to lie, I'm going to miss this guy. He played hockey the way it's supposed to be played. A guy that meets all of the hockey cliches; wears his heart on his sleeve and leaves it all on the ice. Unfortunately for the Rangers and fortunately for Prust, the Montreal Canadiens decided to overpay him. A lot of Rangers fans got pissed off at Prust when it was rumored that he was demanding $2.2M per year from the Rangers or else he would sign elsewhere.

However, this is a business. The truth of the matter is, these guys (especially the 3rd & 4th liners) have short windows to make as much money as possible. For all Prust knows, this could be his last NHL contract. For all any of these players know, they go out tomorrow morning and have a freak accident that ends their hockey career. What then? A few hundred thousand may not seem like a lot of money when you're talking about millions of dollars but it's still a **** load of money.

$100k - $200k per year (which is what people are saying he should easily walk away from), is probably a hell of a lot more than he'll be making in any post-hockey career. For the most part these guys are finished playing hockey in their early 30s (yes some go longer, but the avg. career is long done by then).

As a fan, yes, we all want our players to take pay cuts due to loyalty. But, for the most part this is not the way the world works -- the NHL and hockey players are no different.

The only time he needs to wake up and realize "he's just a fourth line player" is if no one else in the NHL is willing to ante up the cash. Heck, if someone else comes along and offers him $2.5M (which the Habs decided to do) he's not just a 4th line player, now he's a 4th line player making $2.5M

Ruslan Fedotenko
Interestingly on the backend of his NHL career, Fedotenko continues to get pay raises. He joined the Rangers in 2010-2011 signing a one year contract for $1M and then re-signed with the Rangers for another year in 2011-12 making $1.4M. One day into free agency this offseason the Rangers were not willing to offer Fedotenko another pay raise as division rivals the Philadelphia Flyers  signed him to another a one year deal, this time for $1.75 million.

Fedotenko was a solid New York Ranger, another bottom six guy who gave it his all most nights. However, his offensive game has been on the decline, last season finishing with 9 goals, his lowest production in eleven NHL seasons. Fedotenko has been known for his playoff heroics, especially the way he played for the Lightning (2003-04) and Penguins (2008-09) in Cup winning years. He played better this post-season than he did during the regular season but it would be hard to argue offering Fedotenko the type of money that the Flyers signed him to. 

Some of these UFAs got some nice pay days this July with new contracts. Now they have plenty of cash to spend over at

Mats Zuccarello
Came to the Rangers with a huge fanfare after getting the MVP of the Swedish Elite League in 2009-2010. However, he never lived up to expectations in New York. Some will argue that he was never given the opportunity. However, Zuccarello is a highly skilled, finesse player who needs to be in the top six on an NHL team. He just was not good enough to demand top six minutes in either of his two seasons with the New York Rangers.

I won't say that Zuccarello will never play in the NHL but it takes a special player to make it in the NHL with Zuccarello's size. He may return one day, but with the core group of forwards that the Rangers currently have heading into the 2012-13 NHL season, it's likely that even if he were brought back he'd spend the majority of his time in Connecticut. 

He was an RFA this summer and signed a two year deal with the KHL team Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

John Mitchell
He was called up on my birthday (November 25) last season and stuck with the big club for the remainder of the season and played a role in getting the Rangers to the Eastern Conference Finals. He grew on me as the season wore on. There were quick glimpses of skill but he spent the majority of his 63 regular season games stuck on the fourth line. He got a 2 year deal ($1.1M per) from the Avalanche as a UFA. As the roster is now, his fourth line spot will be filled by Jeff Halpern, one of the better faceoff players in the NHL last season.

Jeff Woywitka
Played the seventh defenseman role until Stu Bickel was recalled and claimed a spot on the Rangers roster last season. He's returning to St. Louis where he played previously.

John Scott
"Big" John Scott who the Rangers acquired at the Trade Deadline last season for a fifth round pick will not return for another season on Broadway. He's been signed to a one year contract by the Buffalo Sabres. Not surprising to be honest. He's not a Torts type of player, he's a heavyweight that isn't going to get much ice time. We've seen over the years that if you can only fight and can't take a regular shift, John Tortorella isn't going to have much time for you.

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