As this is my first blog post on this site, allow me to briefly introduce myself. I am Glen and I am a die hard Rangers fan from Southern California who has never even been to Manhattan. As a kid I fell in love with the play of "THE CAPTAIN," (and yes all caps are neccessary when typing that). I've been hooked ever since. I shell out the cash every year for the NHL Center Ice Package so I can watch every Rangers game. I love hockey and respect all fans of the game no matter who their favorite team is; at least until they do something to lose my respect. I'll always show love and respect for my fellow hockey fans as long as they do the same for me. Anyway, onto the real reason I am here.
For purposes of this exercise, I will pretend that I am Glen Sather, Manager of the New York Rangers and not just Glen, Fan of the New York Rangers. I think now that we've seen roughly 3 months of the John Tortorella coached Rangers, we have a pretty good idea of where we are at. First off, I think hiring Torts was a great move and I have confidence that he can lead us deeper into the playoffs than we have been since the cup year of 1994. Obviously, we saw some players excel in Torts' system while others seemed to struggle. Clearly Torts wants to play aggressive, up tempo hockey and it is those types of players I would attempt to add.
Given the cap situation that Sather has put the Rangers in and the fact that it seems likely the cap ceiling won't increase much, if it all, the Rangers won't be able to count on UFA's to bolster the ranks. That would leave the trade market as the logical area in which the team can make some improvements and free up some additional cap room to deal with our own FA's both this year and in future years.
My first move would be to call Columbus GM Scott Howson to gauge his interest in one Michal Rozsival. I read a few weeks back an article on Hockeybuzz by Eric Smith in which Eric stated that in his opinion the Jackets biggest need was for an offensive defenseman that can play the point on the PP (preferrably a RH shot). This description seems to fit Rozsy quite well. Granted the 3 years @ $5 million per aren't all that attractive but I'd be willing to take back a player some may feel is being squeezed out with all of the youth coming up the pipes in Columbus, Raffi Torres.
Torres would give the Rangers a big forward that does solid work in the corners. That was a weak point on the Rangers team a year ago. He still seems to have some more untapped offensive potential as well. Durability is a question mark as he has missed 81 games combined over the last two seasons. With only one year and a $2.25 million cap hit I'd be willing to take a look at Torres if it means getting Rozsival's killer $5 million off of the books.
My second call would be to Pheonix and Sather's former assistant Don Maloney. Sather and Maloney have already hooked up on two trade deadline deals the past two seasons so I imagine it would be a friendly conversation. With Phoenix's ownership and financial situation in flux, I would go into shark mode and start sniffing the waters to see if I could pry a couple of valuable pieces from Phoenix. The player I would ask for is RW Shane Doan. Doan is another physical winger that plays a solid two-way game. He has proven to be a durable player having appeared in at least 73 games per season over the last 10. He has also averaged 28.6 goals, 39.4 assists and 68 points over the last five seasons. That kind of production would be welcome in the New York lineup. Granted, he can be a bit streaky offensively but his leadership skills make up for it.
I believe that Maloney could be tempted by a package built around RFA Nik Zherdev and defensive prospect Michael Sauer whose brother, Kurt, is a member of the Coyotes. This may not be enought to get a deal done but it certainly should qualify as a conversation starter. I would also have interest in possibly expanding the deal to include Jovanovski if I could find some money to go back to the Coyotes.
The final trade conversation I would initiate would be with the Kings. Right now they are heavily involved in the Lecavalier sweepstakes and if they miss out on Vinny, they would likely go after a player like Dany Heatley via trade or Marian Gaborik as a UFA. Heatley is a new name but both Eklund and ESPN's EJ Hradek have reported that Heatley may want out of Ottawa. Regardless, if after making one of those deals, the Kings were to desire another veteran forward to help guide the team into the playofffs then maybe Chris Drury is that guy.
Drury was courted by the Kings after the '06 - '07 season before he signed with the Rangers as a free agent. He would also provide veteran leadership and playoff experience that the Kings sorely lack. A player of interest from the Kings roster is Dustin Brown. Brown is another physical forward who would fit in well with Torts' style. He also isn't afraid to get shots to the net as he averaged better than 3.5 shots per game last season. Drury didn't seem to mesh well with Torts' style of play though a late season injury likely played a role in that. Another reason he would be more appealing to other teams than the Rangers other high priced Center, Scott Gomez, is the fact he only has three years remaining on his deal while Gomez still has five! Brown has five years on his current deal but is very affordable at $3.175 million per.
If all of these moves went through as I described, the Rangers salary cap payroll would be at $37,697,977 or about $17.5 or $18 million under this years cap ceiling. If next years cap is roughly the same as this years then the Rangers would have a fair amount of money to flesh out their roster while re-signing some of their own FA's (Callahan, Sjostrom, and Dubinsky are all RFA's while Betts, Orr, Mara, Morris and Antropov are all UFA's). The roster of signed players would look like this: Forwards - Gomez, Avery, Doan, Brown, Torres, Anisimov; Defense - Redden, Staal, Girardi, Sanguinetti; Goal - Lundqvist. Obviously I have promoted prospects Artem Anisimov and Bobby Sanguinetti to regular roles and other Rangers prospects may yet prove their readiness in camp.
Speaking of our FA's, I would attempt to re-sign all 3 of my RFA's and extend offers to Betts, Orr and Mara. I would certainly gauge the market for both Morris and Antropov as both proved to be useful late season additions. At this point, given how the economy might shape the FA market, I would be hesitant to guarantee either Morris or Antropov anything more than two years. I could see Antropov commanding $3.5 million or more annually but Morris would be hard pressed to top $3 million per.
There you have it, this Glen's idea on how to fix the Rangers this off season. How it compares to Glen Sather's is a mystery for another day. Let me know what all of you Rangers fans or haters think. Please remember that my trade suggestions are only the openings to a trade negotiation, not neccessarily what I think of the value of all of the players involved. I look forward to your comments and crticisms.