It's funny how Karma works in sports. For almost two season Glen Sather has had a love affair with Brooks Orpik and Ryan Malone.(two free agents) There were a few times when Slats almost pulled the trigger to bring the nasty D-man and the tuff power forward to NY for Petr Prucha plus.http://www2.sportsnet.ca/...anges_coming_for_rangers/
I couldn't help but notice how much bigger the Pens looked last night and no matter how many hits the Rangers dealt,the Pens bounced them off. Sports is all about momentum and even though the Penguins scored the first goal,the non call on Jagr a few shifts later may have set the tone for the night. The Dubinsky line controlled most of the first and Straka would eventually deliver on a reviewed play. Even though the Ranger power play is really no help at all, there was a chance for them to at least swing most of the tide in their direction. But I guess a cross check to the back of Jagr is no big deal.
As the Pens would then take a 2 goal lead I began to think of what might have been,and what the Rangers lacked. The Rangers still needed the power play point man they never got. ( see my early Zubov blog ) They could have used a punishing defenseman. Finally, they needed a power forward as we see the almost 40 Shanny was pushed to the fourth line. No disrespect to the HOF but the grind to get in to the tournament may have tired some of our vets. Maybe we suffered the a let down after beating the Devils. As I thought more, I would watch Malone tip in another goal. With Prucha an almost permanent fixture in the box,I wondered if Malone parked in front of Fleury would have been what we needed. Because unlike the Devils series the Rangers have not been in front of the net at all. Avery ( I still want him back) has vanished since game one,and even Drurys deflection goal (in game one) came from about 10 feet above the crease.
When you look at the Rangers loss record vs the west this season; its clear to see that not only do teams need grit and speed,but size too. So as Slather contemplates brining back Avery next year,maybe he too is scouting the players he covets. If the Blueshirts can't tap into the Islanders,Red sox,Leafs magic,then he may watch the Penguins a little longer. Pittsburgh is gonna have to deal with cap issues,especially if they want Hossa to remain on Sids flank. Its up to Shero to decide if keeping Sid happy or keeping the lethal second line ( Malkin,Malone,Sykora) is more important. Malone is going to ask for big money and he may have to buy Gino a steak,because playing with Malkin may have made Malones career. I do think that we may be seeing the power forward come into his own now and having him flank Gomez may be a nice look next season. Having size on the wing protects your centers and opens up ice for more plays,maybe Drury could have used that last night.
As for Brooks,well he's had a few issues going back to the cross check on Erik Cole . In this round he has been a nice force in the back end for the Pens. It's possible that we may have seen a glimpse into the Rangers future last night. One shift late in the game featured Dubinksy between Dawes and Callahan with Staal on the point. It was just a short shift ago that Renny sat on stage with Sather and Maloney and told us they are rebuilding this club,and last night the promise showed evidence. With the Rangers having cap room they may want to shed contracts and let some younger players hit the garden next year. If Sanguinetti is ready out of camp,it may be a wise investment to have a tuff nasty defenseman on his other side. We all know the formula for once tuff D man and an offensive genius ( Buek and Leetch). They will have money to spend if Jagr,Straka,Rosival,and Shanny are off the books. I said books but maybe I should have said Brooks as in we may just see this foe in Rangers camp next year.
Malone is going to have a bidding war for his services, but I smell a double hometown discount...especially if PIT wins the cup. Orpik will also have 12 suitors...
You could be right NLDP...I guess your Sens want to take a look at him too.
I said this in an earlier blog, Malone would look fantastic in a Ducks uniform but unfortunately I think NLDP is right, He's probably THE most coveted UFA and I doubt the Ducks can afford him unless Neidermayer retires and Perry's contract isn't too steep. How do you think the Rangers can get him Capmess after the Drury and Gomez contracts?
Simple you have Straka,Jagr,Shanny,Prucha,Rosival,Mara,Hollweg,Valliquette,and Malik off next years books. Now if the Rangers continue to add Hartford players next year they will be playing on either entry or rookie contracts for a few years. Oh yeah I think Betts is done too! But yeah thats a lot of free money that the Rangers can direct in areas to improve the team. Plus they are eyeing stop gap type players such as Brian Rolston
and Michael Ryder who may take one year deals to play in NY
Prucha will be back. So will Valiquette and possibly Rozsival. I also see Straka or Jagr coming back for less. The Rangers are short on wingers. The primary concern is veteran proven d-man. Anybody to anchor the yourg corps of tyutin, girardi, staal, sauer, sanguinetti, backman. Maybe 2 or 3 year deal, because in 3 years, those 6 will be a premier defense in the league. I think if the money is there, the Rangers should try to sign a young, good winger or two, someone with potential but skill now also. Centers are filled up with Drury, Gomez, Dubinsky, Betts and Anisimov coming up. Wingers are Avery (assuming he is back), Dawes, Callahan, Prucha, Sjostrom (2nd line talent), Orr (if neccesarry). That is 6 of 8. You need to fill the rest with rookies. Cherapanov is an option, Im not sure if anyone else is ready. So basically, the offseason should fetch a winger or two, a solid leader on defense and shedding old players and their salaries. I would want Straka or Jagr for reduced price.
I would be willing to bet that Malone will be a Penguin next year. He is born and raised in Pittsburgh, was a Pens fan growing up, and has said numerous times that he is living his dream and would consider taking a discount to remain a Pen. That being said, I'm sure he will get some ridiculous offers and money can tempt even the most loyal. IMO, Malone is a bigger priority than Hossa by a long shot. I would love Orpik back, but realistically he will probably move on. My bet would be to Buffalo.