I thought I'd take a break from the Sather
bashing this week and give you some insight on who I think would have been
good acquisitions for the Rangers to have made this offseason. I'll start
off by praising Glen Sather on actually inking a deal with a low budget
UFA who I had rated very high on my checklist, defenseman Igor Ulanov. I
think Sather's acquisition of Igor Ulanov was a solid example of good
talent evaluation while being fiscally responsible at the same time.
I think it will take time before Ranger
fans will appreciate Ulanov's play but I project him to have a very solid
season this year as a Blueshirt. Ulanov, who is 6'3 211 and not a brawler
by any means brings to the table 10 yrs experience and a attitude in front
of the net that the Rangers will need desperately this season.
Sather signed the 32 yr old Rushkie to a 3
year 6 million dollar deal. At 2 million a year he's a solid 3 or 4 guy on
the backline who isn't totally inept on the offensive side either. He had
20 assists in 67 games with Edmonton and also ended up tied for the team
lead in Plus/Minus with Eric Brewer at +15.
Here are several other quality free agents
in order that were signed by other teams that came at reasonable prices.
No stars here but solid 3rd or 4th Line guys that the Rangers or for that
fact many teams could have used.
Rob Zamuner - This former Ranger prospect
has emerged into one of the elite defensive forwards in the league.
Zamuner who is 32 years old 6'2 and 206lbs and plays LW would have been a
tremendous asset to the Rangers on even strength defense play and
primarily on the Penalty Kill where the Rangers were horrid last season
29th out of 30. Zamuner however was signed by the Bruins to a 3 year 6
million dollar deal. Zamuner also chipped in 19 goals on the left side for
the Senators last year, which is very decent output for the left side.
Jason York - Although Jason's play slipped
a tad last year. This is a defenseman who really could have helped the
Rangers keep the pucks from being deposited on their net this upcoming
season. York is not a physical punisher in front of the net but relies
more on position and guile to play his role as a defense first defenseman.
Ottawa who is struggling with small market financial woes couldn't hold
onto York. This resulted in the 31 yr. old being eventually signed this
offseason by Anahiem. York received a 3 year 7.5 Million dollar deal.
Stu Grimson - If your going to do things
right do it in grand style. Instead of acquiring freakish Giants like Kyle
Freadrich or Steve Mckenna who basically can't fight their way out of a
paper bag, Why didn't Slacks get the 6'5 240lb Grim Reaper. Like a fine
wine Stu gets better with age by continuing to pummel and intimidate
opponents. Although the 3-yr. deal he got from Nashville is a bit
much for a guy who is 36 years old, at about 700,000 a year he would
have been well worth it. You need an enforcer? Why not get one of the best
in the Biz in Grimson who had 235 minutes last year instead of farting
around with prelims like McKenna and Freadrich. Grimson and McCarthy would
have been a scary combo.
Donald Audette - After the Rangers
scrambled to sign Brett Hull following the Lindros deal why didn't Sather use
the forethought he claimed to have before getting Erica and signed the 32
yr. old Audette instead of making a last second gasp after the fact for a
37 yr. old Hull? Getting Audette would have made up for the lack of goal
scoring on the wing the Rangers gave up when they eventually traded Hlavac to
Philly and he would have come at a bargain basement rate. Audette was signed
by Dallas to a 4 yr. 12 million pact and will likely fill Hull's spot on RW.
Hull had 39 goals last year and Audette had 34 with both Buffalo and
Steve Staios - The last two years in
Atlanta Staios has made a serious upgrade in the quality of his game. Now
that he has settled into the defenseman position after being a swingman
for most of his NHL career, Staios has developed into a nice player to
fill the 5-6 defenseman slot. At 6'1 200 he uses the body and is a solid
D-man and getting better. He recorded 137 PIMs in 70 games last year so he
likes to mix it up occasionally which is always a bonus. Edmonton signed
the 28-yr.old defenseman at a very cost effective 3yr 2.85 Million dollar
Again these are not guys that get people
talking on local sports radio or sell tickets but are players you need on
every team. They bring their assets to the table, game in and game out. Plus
they come at a very fiscally responsible price which is always a key.
Evaluating and obtaining role-players such as this is almost as important
as obtaining your high priced UFA's. Especially on a team like the Rangers
that need to bring a much more intense effort every night and establish
some kind of home advantage.
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