The big news in Ranger-Land yesterday was obviously the signing of former Minnesota Wild star sniper Marian Gaborik to a 5 year, $37.5 million contract. Here is the superstar forward that we need to help get us deep into the playoffs. The kind of offensive threat we missed from our lineup last year after the departure of Jaromir Jagr to the KHL. Look, $7.5 million-a-year is a lot to pay for anyone but Gaborik has the goods to make it worth it. The only question mark with Gabby is his health; can he stay healthy? Of course we won’t know the answer to that until the season starts so I am going to keep my mind open on this signing until then. What I want to know is where do we stand now and what are we going to do the rest of the off-season?
After the Brashear and Gaborik signings, the Rangers have a little more than $13.6 million worth of cap space. Of course that doesn’t account for our RFA’s. If the RFA’s all accept their qualifying offers then that is another $8.5 million of cap space. I’m not sure if Sather will be able to re-sign Zherdev, Higgins or Korpikoski to longer terms with a lower AAS than what their qualifying offers would be but I am quite certain that Dubinsky and Callahan deserve more than the $635,000 and $600,000 respectively that they were paid last year. Basically we are looking at less than $5 million of cap space to add at least 1 defenseman and a back-up goalie.
I suspect that Steve Valiquette will be re-signed for a sum less than $1 million for 2009/2010. I’d also like to add a veteran defenseman on a 1-year deal that can help on the PP since I am not comfortable going into the season with Mike Sauer and Bobby Sanguinetti holding down regular spots. A few of the options left on the market are former Rangers Paul Mara, Mathieu Schneider and Sergei Zubov. Both Schneider and Zubov are nearing the end of very good careers but could certainly help us on the PP. If either would be amenable to a 1-year deal at around $2 million then I would be interested. Mara was re-signed at a $1.9 million salary last year when the market didn’t materialize for him. Another candidate would be Derek Morris who finished the season with the Rangers after a deadline deal with Phoenix. He’d have to accept a short term deal with a sizable pay cut to come back but if the market doesn’t work out for him then I would be interested.
With all of our RFA’s back on board, we have 13 forwards on the roster. We are thin at Center with Drury, Dubinsky, Anisimov and Boyle expected to occupy the 4 spots. I would like to try to acquire another Center and move either Drury or Dubinsky to wing. One possibility might be Brad Richards of Dallas. He has an exorbitant contract that has 2 years left at an AAS of $7.8 million. There was reportedly interest on the part of Dallas in Michal Rozsival last season when the rumor mill was churning about the Rangers re-acquiring Sean Avery. I wonder if a fit might exist there. If that deal were made straight up and we dumped Rismiller or Voros to Hartford then essentially all of our cap room would be gone and we’d look at this for our team:
LW Gaborik C Richards RW Callahan
LW Drury C Dubinsky RW Zherdev
LW Avery C Anisimov RW Higgins
LW Brashear CBoyle RW Korpikoski/Rismiller/Voros
D Staal, Girardi, Redden, Sanguinetti, Sauer, Schneider/Zubov/Mara
G Lundqvist, Valiquette
A little thin on Defense now but more scoring depth up front. Of course Sather could always just sit on his cap space until mid-season and see what develops on the trade market. At least there are lots of possibilities to hash out and re-hash. Well, what do you think Rangers fans? What would you do with the cap space?