Despite the neigh sayers, I firmly believe that up until this point in the off season Glenn Sather and the rest of the New York Rangers management has done an excellent job. Many will argue that Sather has reverted back to his old habits by signing over rated players to lucrative long term big money contracts. Others will even suggest that the Rangers are trying to “buy the cup” through these signings, while they are also hurting the financial stability of the league by raising the market value of unrestricted players. Although these practices were once very much the case for Sather and his crew, this summer has been different.
It has become a cliché for people in the hockey world, both journalists and fans, to take shots at big market teams like the Rangers. I am aware that not every journalist or fan fits into this category, but a lot do. And for those that do I am very certain that if smaller market teams such as the Florida Panthers or the New Jersey Devils had been able to make the same moves that Sather has made, that they would be singing their praises and calling Martin and lamoriello geniuses. But because it is easy to hate big market teams Sather has been questioned and criticized rather than applauded.
It should also be noted that like the other twenty nine teams, the Rangers are also affected by the restrictions of the leagues hard salary cap. They are not given special treatment or allowed to pay a penalty for going over the cap limit. That being said, they are also not in control of the market value of any player. This off season saw a large number of highly touted free agents hit the open market as well as a $6 million increase to each teams cap limit. This combination is the reason why player’s values went through the roof. The Rangers choice to spend big dollars on players is not the reason the rest of the market went up. The market value for many of these players was high before free agency even opened, and the Rangers like everyone else, were forced to over pay for players they needed to better their team. And at the end of the day isn’t that what the off season is for, bettering your team for the upcoming season without jeopardizing the future?
There were very few unrestricted free agents who have been signed that were not severely over paid. The two newest Rangers Gomez and Drury fit into this category. But unlike years past where the Rangers were one of the only teams with the ability to throw big dollars around and over pay for a players services, this year there were many teams from large and small markets who were willing to offer these players the same contracts the Rangers did, but the players themselves chose New York. That is what is making it hard for some hockey enthusiasts to recognize. Although hindsight makes it easy to criticize and point a finger and say that the Rangers are back to their old ways by over paying and out offering the competition, the reality is that these players want to play in New York. They could play elsewhere for the same money they received, but they aren’t. That is the reality.
Still no one can be certain if any acquisition is good or bad until the season starts. Games are won and lost on the ice, not on paper. But for now over the coming days and weeks I am going to evaluate the moves that Sather has made and give my opinion on how each move might have either helped or hindered the Rangers chances for the upcoming season and for the future. It has been a very exciting off season so far and I have a feeling that it may not be over just yet. But for now there are some interesting debates, evaluations and predictions that need to be looked at...
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