It's really quite simple. The salary cap (and Sather's spending) has ruined this team for the mid-long term. It would be great if the cap was, I dunno, $70 million, but that's not going to happen in this economy, and with 30 teams.
So why Avery? Well, I'm a numbers guy, and Avery's numbers are impressive with his time on the Rangers, both season and post season.
2006 - 2007 season
8 goals, 12 assists, 20 points in 29 games. That is .69 points per game (PPG). He also had 28 points in 55 games with the Kings that year, giving him 48 on the season.
2006 - 2007 post-season
1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points in 10 games. That is .50 PPG. We all saw how effective Avery was against the Thrashers (i.e. making Hossa and Kovalchuk practically cry).
Drury ruined that playoff run, and soon ruined our cap situation.
2007 - 2008 season
15 goals, 18 assists, 33 points in 57 games. That is .58 PPG. That's not bad, considering he missed time to injury and played through his wrist injury.
2007 - 2008 post-season
4 goals, 3 assists, 7 points in 8 games. That is .88 PPG. Even though the Penguins spoiled our playoff hopes *cough* Hossa, Avery showed his love for the team by playing with a RUPTURED SPLEEN!
53 points in 86 games. That is .62 PPG.
12 points in 18 games. He never played a post-season with another NHL team. That is .67 PPG.
When Avery was injured last season, he spent a considerable amount of time walking around the 400s of MSG, greeting and drinking with fans. This was on his own time. He didn't have to, but he loved the city that loved him.
Avery's suspension from the NHL and the Stars was uncalled for, in my opinion. He has never laid out a dirty hit nearly breaking a neck, such as Pronger, Neil, Hollweg, Ruutu, and the list goes on.
What did Avery do?
He called his ex-gf something semi-indecent prior to playing her new boyfriend against the Flames. Do you think Avery would drop his gloves against Dion? Probably not. Would he draw a few penalties? Yup.
The Rangers have the following RFAs and UFAs at the end of this season:
All of these players are due for a raise. Assuming the Rangers grab Avery on re-entry, that is a $1.9m cap hit, and a guaranteed signing for the next 3 seasons.
With that kind of production, why not?