The Rangers have had a pretty good last 4 years with reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in 3 of those years. Last year semed like "the year" with them winning the Presidents Trophy for the best regular season record, but wound up to banged up to reach the finals. Now, as the Rangers heal up from another long run in the playoffs without bringing home the Stanley Cup to New York, there are many decisions to be made. The Biggest one was answered last week when Glen Sather said that the organizational bigwigs were staying in place until July 1st meaning that he would stay on as General Manager until after the draft. With the draft coming up this weekend and the "open discusion" time with free agents opening but can't officially sign until July 1st, it would seem that everyone will be on the same page when Sather hands over the General Manager duties to Jeff Gorton.
Going into this offseason, the Rangers are looking to address what seemes to be a lack of size at the forward position that lead to the Rangers forwards not holding up the opposing forwards from crunching our defensemen at full speed and smearing them against the glass like a bug on the windshield. It cost them a playoff game against the Capitols and caused a Yandle injury in the forst round. There is alot of talk of trades, offer sheets, and signings to get the Rangers where they want to be but also some that can take away from the Rangers strenghts. The trades of players include Cameron Talbot, Rick Nash, Kevin Klein, and Carl Hagelin as the main focus right now. Talbot has been rumored for months to be going to Edmonton, but keep an eye on Buffalo. Rick Nash has been rumored to St. Louis but watch for teams that aren't bigtime news pressure such as Carolina, Buffalo, Dallas but don't count out Toronto or Edmonton...if it ever happens. I am not a bigtime Nash fan, but trading him and not getting an elite scorer would cause great damage to the Rangers going forward. Kevin Klein is a nice insurance policy going forward but is expendable with the trade that brought Keith Yandle to N.Y.C. I understand they play different sides of the ice but, Brady Skjei can fill his role. Carl Hagelin has become to expensive for the role of third liner and will be a great addition to another team at around $3.5 mil per year, he is the Rangers caphit casualty this season along with Klein which will give the Rangers roughly alittle over $6 million to spend elsewhere in the lineup.
The Rangers have around 30 players under contract as of now meaning they have alot to work to do this summer and decisions on where some of these players are in the plans or if they are to be cut loose. Players under contract off the NHL roster are Rick Nash, Henrik Lundqvist, Dan Girardi, Derick Brassard, Ryan McDonagh, Dan Boyle, Marc Staal, Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Klein, Keith Yandle, Chris Kreider, Dominic Moore, Tanner Glass, Kevin Hayes, Ryan Bourque, Cameron Talbot and some players that need some time adjusting to the pro game like Brady Skjei, Zamorsky, etc. The bigtime decisions to be made are on the type of players the Rangers want throughout the organization. With Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello, Ryan Bourque, and even Carl Hagelin, it seems like the Rangers want small fast forwards.Problem is as stated above, to many smaller players wear down and can't do as well in the playoffs. The Rangers need to figure out how much and how many years for Derek Stepan. Rumors are starting about J.T. Miller and Jespar Fast getting offer sheets from rival teams. Is Carl Hagelin worth the price he deserves for the role he plays on the Rangers? Do you bring back MSL on an over 35 contract for a base of say $2 mil with a $1 mil bonus? SNY Blog has reported that the Rangers ant to bring Matt Hunwick back as the 7th dman, but at what amaount (750K)? Do you offer James Sheppard a low ball contract to serve as a 4th liner? Then the REAL decisions have to be made. With Dylan McIlrath having to pass through waivers to go to Hartford in Sept., is he ready to be a top 7 dman on the Rangers or a trade chip? Do you qualify Connor Allen, Oscar Lindberg(who should make the team next year), Matt Bodie (who could push for a spot as an offensive type if a few dmen are moved), Marek Hrivik (who should have gotten a chance already), and Carl Klingberg (who already signed to play overseas in the KHL). It would seem as if the Rangers are ready to cut loose all the UFA's in the minors to make room for the kids turning pro from college and Jr's. It would seem as if we saw the last of Mike Kostka, Chris Mueller, Danny Kristo, Jaon Missiaen, Chris Bourque, and Joey Crabb in the organization unless if they can't catch on with another club and agree to play in the AHL again next year. Players like Haggerty, McCarthy, Donnay, Nicholls, Graves, Noreau, St. Croix, Hughes, Kantor, Desjardins, Tarnasky, and Andersson would seem to need time in Hartford and learn the system for any possible callup to improve the Rangers depth.
This week will be very important to see where the Rangers are going organizationally wise and on the ice. Would love to see a blockbuster to land Eichel but don't see it as a reality. It would have to be like a Nash, Klein, and Talbot type for the #2 pick and someone like Evander Kane. Not happening although it would help both teams. The Rangers have been picked at 8-1 odds to win the Cup with only Chicago ahead of them. How do they make odds before the draft and signings of the summer that will include many trades? Buckle up Rangers fans, this will be a bumpy week in Rangerland!!!!!!