Avery a Detriment?

As reported by Larry Brooks today in the Post, Glen Sather wrote in his brief to the arbiter about Sean Avery as a "detriment to the team." Of course, Avery reacted with surprise and disappointment. In fact, the whole article made it seem like a long line of "your momma" jokes. What is disconcerting is that Avery, a heart and soul guy, is now being told of his lack of value (mainly because his strength is the intangible) to a team that can't afford to lose another heart and soul guy.

While Avery is all but committed to the Rangers this upcoming season, he mentions that he wanted a long term deal and Sather never really gave that a chance. True he only played a handful of games here, but with the likes of Jed Ortmeyer gone, the role of the grinding teammate is a necessity.

I pose a simple question: Would the Rangers have made the playoffs last year without Sean Avery?

I say possibly, but that question is very iffy and based namely in Lundqvist. Avery brought a spark and sense of unity to a team that was flat and inconsistent all season. Why screw around with that? Granted, the Rangers are not cap friendly right now, but with the flexibility of player movement, isn't Avery worth $2 million? If the Rangers offered $1.3 and he was asking near $2.5, then $2 should be a reasonable number and certainly fits under the Rangers' cap.

Time will tell as always and who knows whether Avery is the real deal for the long term or just enjoying the perks of the new New York Ranger last year, but if he does have another strong season, the Rangers could be looking at a much bigger contract next season.

A few other notes:

  • The Peca rumors continue to swirl and it appears that the Rangers and Leafs are the front runners, with New York being Peca's preference.
  • There were some unsubstantiated rumors about the Rangers' inquiring into Wade Redden's services with the names of Mara, Pock, and Prucha being thrown around. Don't put much into it.
  • Additional reports have Maloney in Phoenix trying to get Al Montoya out of the Rangers. I could see this as this has had legs since Maloney took over the GM reigns for the Yotes.

Peca, Analysis, and the Captain

So it's been a few days, but finally a sane moment to get some stuff together here. Not too much on the front of the rumor mill except for the Mike Peca situation. It appears, according to reports with TSN and an interview on XM Radio, that the Rangers have expressed interest. Apparently, the Rangers and Maple Leafs are the top two teams in contention. In fact, Peca went as far as to say that a team with two "forwards going to abitration" were involved and he was going to wait to see how those worked out. Peca additionally called the Rangers a "great fit."

Do we believe it? Sure, why not? Besides, the Jovo rumors won't die so why not throw another name out there. In all seriousness, Peca may be a good fit for one year as a third line center. He adds grittiness that was lost in Jed Ortmeyer as well as the penalty killing. Could Brandon Dubinsky do that? Probably not yet. So at just over a million a year, it could be a nice acquisition.

This is another interesting time for Ranger fans as the fates of Marcel Hossa and Sean Avery are on the cusp. Avery to meet his arbiter on July 30th and Hossa on August 2nd. What will they receive? Will they be Rangers next season?

Avery is likely to receive around 2 million as a good comparison player is Mike Fisher. Both recorded 48 points last season and are 27 years old. While their games are a bit different, their contracts should be similar. Fisher has one year remaining at 1.5 million.

Hossa is a more interesting case. With the likes of Alex Bourrett and Nigel Dawes waiting, is there a place for Hossa here? Most likely not, particularly if he gets big money from his arbiter.

Finally, with last week's promotions, is there a spot for the Captain Mark Messier in the Rangers' administration? Now that there are two assistant GM's, the likely successor (or at least self-proclaimed) for current GM Glen Sather is less clear. Sure, a position could be created on a whim for the Captain, but was he passed over here? He did say on NBC towards the end of the season that he was not ready to jump into that role, but when he does, NY is a likely fit. But where?

This leads to an overwhelming opinion I have. Phoenix Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky would be better suited as GM while Mess would be a better fit behind the bench. The greatest ambassador to the game should remain that way while the best motivator and leader should be put in a position to do that to younger teams.


Movin' Up (Updated 8:45 p.m.)

The New York Rangers announced today that Jim Schoenfeld will take over as Assistant General Manager. Ken Gernander will replace Shoenfeld as Head Coach of the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers' American Hockey League affiliate. There were additional promotions as well as Weinman points out on his blog. More analysis later...

Additional analysis: This is a great move for the Rangers as Schoenfeld is well tested and is still going to have a say in what goes on with the farm. However, what is intriguing is that there are going to be dual positions for the Assistant General Manager. In addition to Schoenfeld, Cameron Hope was also named to an Assistant General Manager position, with him being in charge of hockey administration.

Time will tell how this team mentality will work out. (See Islanders circa 2007) At the same time, Sather is still the established head man and big fish. In fact, this restructuring may eliminate any rumors that former Assistant General Manager Don Maloney was actually running the show.

Atlantic Division Analysis Part 4: Pittsburgh Penguins

Could this be the next great dynasty? Perhaps. One of the most youthful teams in the NHL, and of course home of Sid the Kid, made great strides last year in barely missing a Divisional Championship. Some of the questions going into the off-season was veteran leadership and depth at defense and in goal. These issues were addressed fairly effectively. First, Mark Recchi and Gary Roberts were re-signed. Then forward Petr Sykora was brought in as well as defenseman Darryl Sydor and goaltender Ty Conklin. At this rate, the Pens are still growing with youth while supplementing with veterans, a key for success. This team has a lot of potential, but as the Atlantic got tougher, it is possible that the Pens aren't shoo-ins for the top.

Bottom line: The Pens are a great team and only growing stronger. Their biggest question will be in goal as Martin Biron and Henrik Lundqvist are definitely the dominant goaltenders in the Atlantic. Oh and that guy...Brodeur?

Prediction: Third in the Division.

All's Quiet Heading into the Weekend

Not too much to report today. Dubi had a few quick notes that were reported on MSG Network and the Rangers site. Prospects Artem Anisimov and Alexei Cherepanov will compete together for the Russian Under-20 National Team. Also, embattled defenseman Darius Kasparaitis is trying for a return and has apparently become rather svelte. Finally, the Rangers have the two arbitration dates coming with Avery scheduled for July 30th and Hossa for August 2nd. Not too much other than that, but I will leave you with a few notes to consider and what to expect on the weekend.

First, expect the final Atlantic Division Analysis: Pittsburgh Penguins at some point this weekend. Second, how do you handle Kaspar and his major salary? This could be one of the true battles of ethics and money in the new salary cap era. For instance, Kaspar has been a great Ranger, maybe not always on the ice, but certainly off it and in representing the organization. If they waive him and he is picked up, the Rangers have to pay part of his salary against the cap. If they demote him again to Hartford, is that really the way to force a guy into retirement or embarrass an otherwise solid NHL career? At the same time, his salary is big at around 3 million. You decide,

Finally, we will be taking a page from HF Boards connoisseur Inferno over at RangersReview.com and doing some player-by-player analysis. While I won't have his pretty charts, we'll be getting in-depth and focusing as much on the off-ice and intangible impacts as the physical.

Closing thoughts: Yashin signed overseas with Locomotiv. Whatever, no biggie. Lindros is leaning towards retirement. I liked him as a Ranger. Until tomorrow...

Finally a moment...

to reflect. After not having power for the past 30+ hours, there is finally a little time to reflect and look forward. Sam Weinman actually had some interesting considerations regarding the Rangers' defensive log jam as well as the preseason schedule. However, there is one issue that everyone is failing to address here and that is the role of the rookie.

Much speculation recently has arisen about players like Jovanovski and Mike Peca, particularly following Matt Cullen's trade. Yet, what is being overlooked is the possibility that this move was to make room for a player like Nigel Dawes and/or Brandon Dubinsky. As the forward lines stand now, presuming Avery and Hossa re-sign, there is some intrigue. For instance, where does the first line stand? Hossa has played there, but is he really a first line player? Most likely not. Yet, will the North American styles of Chris Drury or Scott Gomez fit on the top line? Perhaps. Other than Jagr, Straka, Shanahan, and Avery the lines are really quite gray. Prucha, for instance, has played center and had some success with it on the 2005-06 power play. Could he see top line time with the Euros? Probably not. But then again a similar situation arises with Hossa. He played some first line, and with his size he is a decent fit to dig in the corners, but lacks the natural scoring touch of a Prucha.

In fact, even with the two biggest center signings this off-season, the Rangers still have a lot of uncertainty at center. Gomez and Drury will likely play first and second, but if neither jell with the Euros, that would push one onto the third line. A $7 million third line center? Or has the first line become a lower line?

The answers to these questions may not lie with the stars, but in fact the rookies. Could Nigel Dawes or Brandon Dubinsky light up an All-Star, All-Rookie line at third with Callahan and Prucha? If so, that may make the Rangers' top four lines the most lethal in the East. As well, Marc Staal may be the answer to the defensive options.

Either way, the Rangers are in a good position. A lot of talent to put in a lot of places. Even though more moves are probably on the horizon, the Rangers are in the enviable position of trading away high-priced vets and letting youth come in, or trade some valuable prospects for a dominant veteran.

Cullen Southbound

Go figure a day at work with no internet access and the Rangers make a move. As discussed earlier this weekend, Matt Cullen was sent back to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for defenseman Andrew Hutchinson, forward Joe Barnes, and a third round pick in 2008. This was an obvious salary cap move, but may have some other implications. Figure it saves the Ranges somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 million this year. I'll have more analysis later.


Over at Hockeybuzz, Eklund is reporting a couple potential moves. One was speculated here a week or so ago, having Mara and then some going to Phoenix for Ed Jovanovski. Additionally, Ek has Cullen drawing interest from St. Louis. You have to love the Ranger connections, Maloney with Phoenix and J.D. in St. Louis. While I think there is likely to be a move, I can perhaps see Mara and Montoya for Jovo and a pick over Cullen to St. Louis. Cullen as a third line center serves a great role and played well down the stretch. In fact, all season Renney wanted to use Cullen in that role, but didn't have the depth at center. Mara is a bit dispensible given his 3 million contract. However, moving a forward would make room for Dawes and/or Dubinsky.

Atlantic Division Analysis 3: New Jersey Devils

Better late than never, but here goes nothing, a look into the New Jersey Devils. There are a lot of questions surrounding New Jersey, from goaltending to coaching. While Brodeur is coming off a stellar and record setting regular season, his playoff play has decreased in the past couple of seasons. While the Devs signed former Ranger goalie Kevin Weekes to back up Brodeur, how many more seasons can Marty go before needing to relinquish his title as starter. Jordan Parise, Zach's brother, is in the AHL now, but is he good enough to come into the role in the next year? Another issue is with the coaching. Last year, the Devs fired Claude Julien with a handful of games left and in first place in the division. How will newly anointed Head Coach Brent Sutter handle the task? The dismissal of Brian Rafalski and Scott Gomez will also thin out an aging roster. However, there were three other additions that may look to shore up some of their holes. Another former Ranger, defenseman Karel Rachunek, signed as well as defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski. Forward Dainus Zubrus is also on board for 2007.
The Bottom Line: The Devils dynasty is in it's twilight. If Brodeur can lead another charge, the Devs have a great chance at a top playoff seed, but all good things must come to an end.
Prediction: Fourth in the division.

A busy day...

for both me and the NHL. Sure up at 7:30 a.m., travel in traffic to Connecticut, travel back to NY in traffic a couple hours later, get the hockey gear together for an evening game, shoot over to work for a couple hours, get out and head across town to the game, just to find it is a forfeit. Does it end there? No. Dinner with a lady friend followed by supposed plans with another lady friend (who of course fell off the face of the earth), culminating with a couple drinks and pool.


Now onto the Rangers and NHL. Souray finally found a home which was the biggest news. He signed a five year, 27 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers. At just over 5 million a year, the Oilers finally got their big name guy to try and salvage the mass departure of their nucleus. Interestingly enough, it was widely speculated and reported today and yesterday that Souray would do anything, including take a one-year deal, to become a Ranger. When you awoke this morning, that's all you could read. The Rangers were getting ready to send Matt Cullen back to Carolina, possibly demote Malik for cap space and Souray would be in red, white, and blue.

My how things turn quickly.

However, the fact that Souray decided to sign near his Alberta home could signify a couple things. First, that there is a reason they call it rumors. Second, that you can't always believe what you read (though I pride myself on sticking to trustworthy journalists), but more specifically that this may have just been all leverage.

Nonetheless, it could also point to an imminent trade for a defenseman. As part of the Cullen rumors, Anton Babchuk was potentially coming to New York. At 23 and 6 ' 5". there is a lot of upside to Babchuk. He has a blistering shot from the point and sees the ice well. While he is still a work in progress, at around a million (he's an RFA) he is a cap-friendly offensive defenseman.

Ohlund may be another option as Vancouver has been rumored in talks.

Good night to all, tomorrow another Atlantic Division Analysis: The New Jersey Devils.

Some bedtime thoughts...

Before I hit the sack, I was thinking about the Rangers' defensive possibilities, because that's what you do before you go to bed. I had one outlandish, unreasonable, impractical, and unlikely idea. From those of you who have read my other all sports blog, you know my infatuation with a certain Rangers' defenseman. Similarly, most Ranger writers (and the player's agent) have been contacted about my opinions and questions as to this players' status over the past year. Heck I've even emailed and called in to XM Home Ice. (A great station for those who are considering it)

While I am sure you know who I am referring to or have at least seen the picture, is it possible that given the Rangers' new "win now" mentality that a cap-friendly, one year, offensive, and sentimental defenseman may shake the cob webs and finish on Broadway?

Like John Dellapina, and many of the other Ranger fans and writers over the past year, I have felt that Brian Leetch could have made a huge impact on this team. He could quarterback a power play that has failed to find any sort of offensive presence along the blue line. He could bring along the younger players, such as Girardi and Tyutin. He could even mentor his friend and neighbor in Paul Mara.

I, like many, was also heart broken when Leetch announced his retirement earlier this off-season. While his storied career will lead him into the Hall of Fame, there still lingers a terrible after taste of his sudden dismissal. What better than to come back, finish where you belong, and compete on a legitimate Cup contender?

Again, this is highly unlikely. Leetch is too proud to come out of retirement. The Rangers (though they pursued him last off-season) may not be so welcoming, and (as he stated in Dellapina's last Blueshirt Bulletin article) it isn't the same group that it was. Nonetheless, the numbers in fact aren't that far-fetched.

In Leetch's last season, 2005-06 with Boston, he faced some injury woes and only played 61 games. However, he still managed 32 points with 5 goals and 27 assists. You don't lose the ability to see the ice and that vision. Additionally, the Rangers' offense would be much more potent than that Boston team, particularly on the power play.

Look at the Rangers' defensive production last season. Rozsival led the defense with 40 points in 80 games. Leetch's last season had a better p.p.g average than any current Ranger defenseman. To say that he would have a dramatic drop-off is unlikely and unfair. It is completely possible for him to have a 40 or so point season.

Even pragmatically there is justification. The Rangers' need a star blue-line presence and who is available? We have discussed Jovo and Souray ,ad nauseum, and those salaries go upwards of 7 million a year. How about a trade for Ohlund? A solid defenseman. How many points did he have last year? 31. His contract? 3.5 million a year for the next two years. Leetch is a stop-gap 1 million option.

He could provide some great insight for Marc Staal and then pass the torch on to the kid who idolized him, Bobby Sanguinetti, for 2008.

I think it makes sense, though it is more likely to see Messier come back before Leetch, but a man can dream though. A man can dream...

2007 - 08 Schedule

The NHL announced it's new schedule for upcoming season. The Rangers, will open at home against the Panthers on Thursday, October 4th. The Rangers also play the Islanders three times in the first month and finish with two home-and-home series in the final month. More analysis later...

Updated Cap Situation

UPDATE: Lundqvist's contract was actually more than initially reported and will be 4.25 million. This changes the cap situation slightly as they are looking closer to 3 million to re-sign Avery and Hossa. Any further signings would have to occur after the Rangers shed some cap space.

Amidst the signings of Shanahan and Lundqvist, the Rangers' cap situation is a bit clearer. Before the Lundqvist signing the Rangers had 7.513 million in cap space. Presuming the cap hit for Lundqvist is around 2.5 million, the Rangers are looking at 5 million to re-sign Hossa and Avery. That is actually a decent amount of cap space, particularly since Kasparaitis' 3 million is likely to come off the books. If they don't re-sign Hossa, there is more than enough money to sign or bring in a big name defenseman, say Souray or Jovanovski.

What we are starting to see however, is the loopholes and unique conditions of the CBA. Lundqvist could sign a long-term deal after January 1 and not have it count against the cap. Shanahan can only count around 2.5 against the cap, while he can make nearly 5 million because of performance bonuses. Avery, Lundqvist, and Hossa may all be signed before their arbitration dates, but no other team could make an offer because they were protected by being under the arbitration title.

With that in mind, is their any point to allowing teams to present an offer sheet to RFA's if all their respective teams have to do is say they are going to arbitration then sign them at their leisure?

This is the salary cap age and it is only going to get wilder.

Lundqvist signs a one-year deal

UPDATE: The New York Rangers are reporting that Lundqvist has agreed to a new contract. Terms were not disclosed.

According to John Dellapina at the Daily News, and Larry Brooks at the NY Post, Henrik Lundqvist signed a deal that could be announced today for one-year between 2.5 and 3.5 million. While it is not the long term deal that most of us were expecting, this makes a lot more sense against the cap. While Ranger fans will have to worry about him becoming a UFA, Henk's loyalty should provide enough security that a one-year deal with turn into a 5 or 6 year deal after the 2007-08 season. Rangers' fans and management alike recognize that Henk is the franchise goaltender and should take the route of former Ranger goalie Mike Richter and stay in the red, white, and blue for his career.

A New Philosophy?

Since the deadline purge a couple seasons back, the Rangers have been on a mission to get younger and rebuild. To their credit, they truly have done a nice job bringing along some talented rookies. Petr Prucha, Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan, Marcel Hossa, Nigel Dawes, Blair Betts, Ryan Hollweg, Fedor Tyutin, Dan Girardi, and former Ranger Jed Ortmeyer have all become either threats in the NHL or blue-chip prospects and assets. Even in the midst of this youth movement, the Rangers have improved dramatically with an outstanding team concept instituted by Head Coach Tom Renney which resulted in back-to-back playoff appearances.

However, have we seen the days of rebuilding come and go? Are we back to the high-spending, win-now mentality of the 90's? With today's signing of Shanahan, the team has shown that it is ready to win now, but does that come at the expense of the rookie revival?

Each question is partially correct. Rebuilding has somewhat ended because of the established status of so many of the former rookies. Where are the open spots for the likes of Brandon Dubinsky to play?

Also, the Rangers did pay a large price for Drury and Gomez. However, if they continue to play at a high level, the signings were a success.

In signing Shanahan, and Straka earlier, the Rangers have made a major step forward in becoming Cup contenders. Chances are that this will be Shanahan's final season, as well as Straka and possibly Jagr. What better time to make a run?

Amongst the valid arguments, there are some root themes, which begin with the projected starting rosters.

Jagr - Drury - Straka
Avery - Gomez - Shanahan
Callahan - Cullen - Prucha
Hollweg - Betts - Hossa/Orr

Malik - Rosival
Tyutin - Girardi
Mara - Pock/Strudwick

As far as youth goes, the only real forward threat to make the big club is Nigel Dawes. Alex Bourret, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Asimov, (just to name a few) could still benefit from another year with the Pack. However, if you examine the lines, there is the potential for at least three spots to be open after the 2007 - 08 season. There is also potential that Hossa is not re-signed, which could make room for Dawes and save salary cap space.

Defense is a more gray perspective. There are rumors that Souray is on his way, which would mean at least one defenseman is on his way out. In addition, you can all but guarantee that Marc Staal will be up with the pros this season. Where does he fit? Chances are, Malik, Rosival, and Mara are all possible to be dealt (particularly with the Strudwick signing).

The Rangers are still on a decent path to future success while giving themselves a chance to win now. If the defense is shored up, this club has the ability to go far this season and for seasons to come.

Shanny A Ranger...

5:56 UPDATE: TSN and the New York Rangers site are both confirming that Shanahan is back for another year.

UPDATE: Spector is reporting that the Shanahan deal is done, per the Fan 590/ AM 640.

well almost. At least those are the reports circling today. Dubi at Blueshirt has some commentary, but the story was really broken by Larry Brooks at the NY Post early this morning. Apparently, the deal is one-year at around 2.5 million with an additional 1.5 - 2.5 in incentives. This would be a great signing and was really the biggest re-signing the Rangers had left (except for that goalie, what's his name?). He would be a great fit next to either Drury and Gomez and will be protected assuming Avery re-signs.

Appeasing Jags

What is the key to Jagr's production? Keeping him happy. It may be a poor stereotype, but it has certainly been a staple to his success throughout his career. Hence when he came to New York and he was paired with team Europe, his production increased to league-leading levels. As Dubi writes over at Blueshirt, in a recent interview Jagr was disappointed in Nylander's exit and reserved about how Drury and Gomez will fit into the Rangers' scheme. How will Jagr react? Is this the beginning of the European purge? One this is for sure, Jagr is integral to the Rangers' success.

For example, Jagr in the past two seasons has recorded 123 and 96 points, respectively. As a Capital, he never recorded 80 points.

While everyone will be tip-toeing on broken glass to see how Jagr will react, there may not be as much cause for concern as the media is making it out to be. For instance, Jagr became very close with outspoken Sean Avery very quickly upon his near trade-deadline arrival. If he can get along with that North American, (and eventually Brendan Shanahan) why would he have an issue with Gomez and Drury?

Atlantic Division Analysis 2: New York Islanders

Whereas the Flyers were one of the most improved teams, the Islanders may have suffered the greatest loss in the Atlantic Division. After selling off some prospects and picks in the trade deadline deal for Ryan Symth, the Isles failed to re-sign him showing nothing but a loss. Also, leading scorer Jason Blake left for Toronto, Viktor Kozlov went to Washington, while Alexei Yashin was bought out which makes the offense weaker. The defense also took a hit as Tom Poti signed long-term with the Capitals and Sean Hill signed with Minnesota. There are some bright spots however, forwards Bill Guerin, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Mike Comrie were both brought in and will be forced into prominent roles. However, they could be a major question. Guerin is older at 36 and disappeared after being traded to San Jose at the deadline. Fedotenko is coming off career lows in goals and is aging as well. Comrie has struggled with consistency during the regular season, but had a decent playoffs. Rick DiPietro is going to have to be tops for this squad to go anywhere.
The Bottom Line: The Isles are rumored to be in some trade talk before the start of the season. Their lineup is very thin and is not playoff caliber. Even DiPietro can't help this current squad. It may be a long season for Isles fans if they don't shore up that roster.
Prediction: Bottom of the Atlantic, most likely last.


UPDATE: John Dellapina has some interesting (and positive) insight into the Lundqvist announcement.

According to Sam Weinman, the Rangers are bringing Henrik Lundqvist to arbitration. So much for my previous arbitration post. If the Rangers do go to arbitration with him, he will be awarded a one-year deal. This could be a major problem for the Rangers cap situation. Most likely, the Rangers will sign him before the arbitration date and perhaps this is just something to get the fire lit under Lundqvist and his agent. Time will tell, but needless to say, the signings of Gomez and Drury are nearly pointless if you don't get Henk signed long term.

The Jovo Question

In today's Daily News, John Dellapina comments on how Sheldon Souray has interest in playing for the Rangers, but they have to make cap room in order to sign him. If you look a couple posts down, I nearly predicted that. However, there is another possibility in bringing in a defenseman. There has been long interest by Phoenix in a goaltender, namely Al Montoya. At 7 million a year this year, and three more years on the contract, it is a steep price, but near what Souray would command.

Here are the comparisons:
Jovanovski - 31 years old, 30 - 40 points per year for his career, has sustained injury problems over his career and rarely plays more than 60 games. Has about even +/-.
Souray - 30 years old, increased point totals in the past three seasons (career-high last season at 64), has a sporadic +/- and has not been plus in the past two seasons, played in nearly all the games over the past three seasons after injury plagued seasons prior.

Overall, Souray is more offensive minded and Jovo is a grittier defensive player. That begs the question as to what the Rangers need. Some make the point of an offensive defenseman to quarterback the power play, something that the Rangers have lacked since Brian Leetch. However, with Sanguinetti, Baranka, and Sauer on the cusp, the use of a solid defensive defenseman could also be argued. Additionally, who better to teach Staal than Jovo?

Either way, the Rangers need to make moves. Kasparaitis, Montoya, and another player (most likely a defenseman) could clear up over 5 million in cap-space it will just a question of what they bring back.

Arbitration Cases

Sean Avery and Marcel Hossa are headed to arbitration, scheduled in Toronto for August 4th. While Avery may be a bit of a surprise, Hossa certainly isn't. Being that Avery joined the Rangers so late, I am not sure what leg he has to stand on because anyone can have a good couple months. What is a little disconcerting about it is the fact that he may only get a one-year deal. At the same time, they can negotiate up until the arbitration date.

Hossa will most likely be awarded a fair upgrade, reaching some career highs and increasing his playing time. Despite the fact that both are going to arbitration, the bigger news is that goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is not. As a RFA, he chose not to which means he is either signed and it has yet to be announced or they are close and it is unnecesary. This is also positive because the Rangers can structure the contract so there is less impact this year and more in years to come.
Comment below: How much are Hossa and Avery going to receive in arbitration?

Weekes a Devil

After making 2 million dollars last season with the Rangers, Kevin Weekes , 32, signed today with the New Jersey Devils. Weekes signed a two year deal worth about 1.375 million. This means that Valiquette will be the go-to guy as expected. This also saves some considerable cap space.

Souray Rumors and the Defensive Debates

Spector and Eklund are both reporting that the Rangers are in the Souray mix. In my defense, I almost felt that this was a done deal and the announcement is just waiting until the Rangers get the cap straight. Personally, I think that the Rangers are going to try and unload one of their bigger defensive contracts now. I was going to wait to put up my defense debate, but we might as well do it now.

Strudwick, Rosival, Malik, and Mara are all UFA's after this season. Here are the salaries:
Strudwick - 500,000
Mara - 3 mil.
Malik - 2.5 mil.
Rosival - 2.3 mil.

How do you pursue this? One theory would be to sign extensions, but who knows what next year will hold. Another theory would be to wait this season out and hope to re-sign after the season. However, that would risk their value being higher than signing an extension OR risk losing them completely. Finally, you could trade them now and sign another defenseman for the long term. Personally, I could see that as being the most plausible. For instance, sign Souray for 3 - 4 years and trade say, Malik or Rosival. For the purposes of the cap, the Rangers would really need to trade off a couple salaries in order to sign Souray. Darius Kasparaitis is also a likely candidate for trade (if anyone will take him OR if he is waived down to Hartford). Trading Al Montoya is another scenario that frees up about a million in cap space.

Here are the projected pairings:
Mara Tyutin
Malik Rosival
Pock Girardi

DEBATE: What to do with a defense that needs a power play quarterback and offensive presence while dealing up near the cap?

Pruuu is back

UPDATE: Weinman is reporting that the Prucha deal is two years for 3.2 mil or 1.6 per.

A great find by a user over at HFBoards this morning. According to the NHLPA, the Rangers have re-signed Petr Prucha for 1.6 million. It is unknown the length of the contract and nothing is being officially reported, but I'll stay on top of it. In fact, the only other site reporting this is Sam Weinman. OK time for a late breakfast/early lunch. Later, some debate on the D.


A look at the newest Rangers. A little long, but worth it.

Atlantic Division Analysis 1: Philadelphia

As promised, we'll review each Atlantic Division team now that free-agency is generally done. Tonight: Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers may be the most improved team in the NHL and in record setting fashion. Despite the trades for Jason Smith, Joffrey Lupul, Kimmo Timmonen, and Scott Hartnell, the real turnaround began at the trade deadline.
Not since , I'll be conservative, John Vanbiesbrouck (though realistically Ron Hextall) have the Flyers had a franchise goalie and they got that in Martin Biron. They also got some nice assets in the trade for Peter Forsberg; Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent, and picks. Combine those moves with the signing of Daniel Briere and you have a truly new team.
The question will be whether this group can jell and be successful. As Ranger fans, where have we heard that before? The good news is that the group is generally young and have the potential to grow together. Additionally, Biron can help bring future goaltender Antero Nittymaki along.
The Bottom Line: The Flyers will not be bottom dwellers again and have improved dramatically. They will challenge for the division, but a lack of third and fourth line depth will be a question.
Prediction: Second in the Division.

Lampman to the Bolts

UPDATE: The trade of Lampman may be as simple as opening up another spot in Hartford. In fact, that is probably all it is. Besides, Lampman never really had a future here with the likes of Staal and Sanguinetti waiting in the wings. However, I always find it interesting when defensive moves are made in somewhat random fashion.

In an interesting roster move, the Rangers traded defenseman Bryce Lampman to the Tampa Bay Lightning for 6'8" gargantuan Mitch Fritz. I'll have analysis later, but for now, consider the two roster moves in the past two days have dealt with defense. Souray perhaps? Probably not, but how does Struds fit into this mix?

Also, thanks to Dubi over at Blueshirt Bulletin for linking me! I'll have a blog roll and link list up soon.

Struds back for good

After some fill-in work on the blueline at the end of last season, the Rangers have signed defenseman Jason Strudwick for the entire 2007-2008 season. The deal is believed to be for one year and should provide a nice seventh defenseman and capable fill-in for the Rangers' defense-corps. Struds was always a positive locker room guy during his time in NY and stable as a stay-at-home defenseman.

Hindsight is 20/20

OK, in the midst of July 1st's crazed rush of signings, nothing better than a two hour –plus flight to evaluate and use a little hindsight. Scroll down to yesterday’s posts if for some reason you were the only person left out of the NHL loop as to the Rangers major upgrades.

Let’s look at the pros and cons first of each signing:

Scott Gomez: seven years, just over seven million per.

Pros: A proven winner with great vision and the ability to put up numbers, see his 80-point season. He also can play the defensive end of the ice, as was demanded in the boringly effective New Jersey system. Playing with stars such as Brian Gionta and Patrick Elias also speaks to his ability to handle the big-stage and compete with the highest levels of the NHL.

Cons: It is a large contract and perhaps more money than he is worth given his underachieving season last year. However, the market was set high and he was going to demand that regardless. He also has been known to have a bit of an ego, which may conflict in the locker room. If his production raises and steadies going into the prime of his career, it will be a great signing. If not, then it could be another major bust.

Chris Drury: five years, just over seven million per.

Pros: An offensive prowess with a hometown feel. Growing up in the Tri-State area as a Rangers fan, he has a true appreciation for the Ranger culture. He has a proven work ethic and the ability to put up numbers in a highly contrasted Buffalo system to Gomez with New Jersey. It also should be noted that few players in the league possess Drury’s size with his skill set. It can’t hurt coming off a President’s Trophy winning team as well.

Cons: Drury has fewer questions than Gomez because he has proven himself in the dawn of his prime. However, like Gomez, a question of meshing in the melting pot that is the Rangers’ dressing room will come up. Can he stand to play with the Euros on the first line? (See Afinogenov) Will he be able to take the reigns as the veterans of Shanahan, Jagr, and Straka reach their final years? Time will tell more than his initial impact, either way his price was right.

What lies ahead? Well the Rangers still need an offensive defenseman, but I won’t get greedy and look to Souray. There will also be some salary cap tinkering, while the Rangers and Sather maintain that they have enough space, they may want to clear some up to have some wiggle room at the deadline. Regardless, there are few who can say the Rangers didn’t have the best day yesterday with the exception of perhaps Philadelphia.

Coming in the next couple days, an analysis of the newly renovated Atlantic Division.

Orts to Nashville

Despite his popularity on Broadway, Jed Ortmeyer signed a two year deal with the Nashville Predators. Story here.

Breaking it down

Over at hfboards.com, I made a thread about salary cap issues so I won't get into that. Next, here are the official signings: Gomez at 7 years, 7.35 per and Drury at 5 years, 7.05 per. Also, inside the Sather conference call, Dubi over at Blueshirt, put up some comments worth reading. The general gist, they are still signing Shanahan and their own RFA's. Well done Rangers, now the biggest predicament: who gets #23?

Drury on Board

UPDATE AT 7:42: Sam Weinman confirms that the Rangers sign Chris Drury and Scott Gomez.

According to Sportsnet, Chris Drury also signed an extended agreement. Following up now...

Gomer a Ranger

UPDATE: 7:27 According to sportsnet.ca, the Gomez deal is for 7 years and over 50 million dollars. That would make each year about 7 million, which given the Briere deal makes sense.

First off, apologies for the lack of posts. Lots to talk about, but not much time to type! Nonetheless, my buddy John Dellapina at NY Daily News and ESPN are reporting that Gomez is a Ranger. He will fit well on a line with Avery and Shanahan. More to come...