After watching Sundin accept the Messier Award yesterday,I couldn't help but realize why the Rangers aren't mentioned in the " Mats sweepstakes". They will lose a few vets in Shannahan and possibly Straka. Malik and Mara could walk and the cap will increase. After reaping the rewards of the first award recipient ( Shanny) ,maybe the Rangers should follow up with the second.
Mats is still a dominant force and is a viable candidate to center Jagr or shift Drury to the wing. Adding Sundin gives the Rangers some size up front and a power play presence. He seems hell bent on staying close to Toronto and the NY -TO Flight is 45 mins at best. He's already won a Gold metal with Lundqvist so their is a familiar face on the club.Ranger fans may stray away from this idea sensing a step back in team direction. But if you look at the short term picture,it makes a lot of sense. Sundin will be in the market for a 1-2 year deal maybe a team option for a 3rd year. No one can second guess his leadership qualities and by losing Shannahans voice in the locker room,Mats is ideal candidate to fill the void. If the Rangers are really getting into Oli Jokinen trade conversations they will have to give up some quality prospects and and picks as well. Adding the Fin, would definitely bolster their lineup with a 29 year old big body forward. But,his contract will expire in 2 years and the Rangers will have to maneuver his extension into their cap. Oli hasn't won yet and if they gamble and win ,maybe Oli will have won too. If he takes a few steps back,it will have cost the Rangers prospects and the potential quarterback trade they need. Sundin on the other hand won't cost them any picks or prospects,and working his contract with incentives fits better into the Rangers plans.
Maybe Leafs fans can swallow the Ranger pill a little bit easier than watching him play in Montreal or in Buffalo. Playing in little Sweden with the Wings has got to be tempting,but will their hunger be the same if they win this year? Having Renny run the bench and continue to develop the Ranger youth is vital,but having Mats as an on ice mentor is clutch. Watching Pittsburgh in the finals,they may be missing that one on ice leader to push them over the top. You look at Detroit with Steve Yzerman, or look at Mario in with the Pens,and last Messier in NY. These assets need to be used not only for their on and off ice leadership,their abilities to score big goals,but to help teams progress with the future. Had the Rangers signed and drafted character players and deplete their system,maybe Messier's words would have rang a little longer. If Mario had stayed healthy he too could have carried the torch a little longer,even though Jagr tried. But what is clear, is how the Wings were able to draft players and keep them while continuing Yzermans legacy. Toronto is too late to take advantage of what Mats has left. They have drafted pretty poorly and if they rebuild,Mats talents will be wasted. The Rangers on the other hand are right in the mix and after a few years of rebuilding have talent waiting to learn. They have young hungry players continuing to thrive on their developing skills and words from our games wise veterans.If Dubinsky is on board,imagine what Sundin could show the growing power center. Maybe Mats is the guy who finally gets Dupont and Jessiman to the next level,strengthening the Rangers future. He has begun to plant seeds in Toronto with a healthy Nik Antropov finally breaking out. Having him walk on to a team waiting to win like the Wings, is an easy way out. But having him help lead future Rangers on the ice would be,well like getting a Messier Reward