The New York Rangers Summer: Haves and Have Nots

Posted: July 18, 2011 by forever&staalways in New York Rangers
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

There were a lot of questions for the New York Rangers going into this summer. Many of them were answered within the first few days of free agency, though some are still looming.

What we have:

Glen Sather did what many a Rangers fan thought he couldn’t do; reel in the season’s prized free agent. In bringing in Brad Richards the Blueshirts now have a nifty center to feed Marian Gaborik the puck. Though both the winger and center are oft-injured, the two could make some magic on the ice if they mesh well. Having Ruslan Fedotenko, Richards’ linemate during their Championship in ’04, could help improve their dynamic.

Another free agent brought into New York was Pittsburgh center Mike Rupp. The main question with the 6-foot-5 center was where did that leave 6-foot-6 center Brian Boyle? Apparently it simply meant bringing along a hard-hitting Cup winner (2003, NJ) into the fold, and not the departure of Boyle, who signed a three year contract a couple weeks later.

The last thing Sather did was ensuring the stability of the Rangers ‘core’ by re-signing RFA’s Michael Sauer (2 year, $2.5m) and Artem Anisimov (2 year, $3.75m), relatively good contracts for those who would have otherwise gone to arbitration. The Rangers got away with a lot, considering how well of a rookie season Sauer had in New York. One of the last pieces of the defensive puzzle was a trade with Calgary in mid-June, bringing in Tim Erixon; who was drafted 23rd overall by Calgary in 2009. Since he had not signed a contract with the Flames, Erixon was set to be re-entered into the 2011 draft. Instead, his rights were traded to his father’s former team, with whom he settled an entry-level contract with. With two more years under his belt with the Swedish Elite League, he is considered a top-ten level prospect, and is considered to crack the roster this season.

What we still have left:

Two key dates are upcoming on the New York Rangers calendars in July 21 and 28. The 21st is the salary arbitration date for Brandon Dubinsky, who during the last contract negotiations, did not have a contract settled until training camp. Though both he and Ryan Callahan (whose day in court is the 28th) are both expected to ask for $4,000,000 a year, the $11 million in cap space would seemingly allow both contracts to be easily negotiated long before camp starts in September.

The other question is- do the Rangers need a veteran defenseman? The team, over the last few seasons, has brought in a veteran soon-to-be-free-agent defenseman before the trading deadline. However, does the team need to bring one in before the seasons starts, or can Dan Girardi and Marc Staal hold down the fort? Both with five seasons under their belt do have key experience over guys such as Sauer and Ryan McDonagh. These young defeseman, including Tim Erixon and Michael Del Zotto will be able to be successful on the blueline without the guidance of a ‘true veteran.’

Lastly, there’s some word on the prospect front. First round pick JT Miller has decided not to go to University of North Dakota this coming fall, opting instead to join the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL to help put his NHL career on the fast track. On the other hand there’s 2009 first round pick Chris Kreider, who will be entering his third season with the Boston College Eagles. Both seem to be gunning for a spot on the Rangers for the 2012 season, which could lead to an interesting fight for center. My bet, of the two, is Kreider, just because of his high projection and his great skating ability.

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