With the NHL Draft upon us, let’s take the temperature of the New York Rangers this off-season.
First, GM Glen Sather traded Coach John Tortorella to the Vancouver Canucks straight up for Coach Alain Vigneault. Vigneault has already changed the culture around the Blueshirts, by actually listening to an answering questions from the media. His approach to the offense should be light years ahead of Torts’. The stars can play their game and not worry about blocking a million shots and the young offensive talent (hey Chris Kreider, hey!) can be free of coaching oppression to blossom.
Secondly, Big Baby, Mark Messier left the Rangers once again over a perceived slight. The incredibly thin-skinned “Greatest Leader of All-Time” will no longer be the Special Advisor to the President of the NYR and instead focus on selling his Great Gazoo helmets and the Kingsbridge Ice Rink
boondoggle project in the Boogie Down. The Captain who left the Rangers in 1997 for Vancouver (hey, that’s wierd) because his newly aqcuired best friend Wayne Gretzky was stealing some of Messier’s spotlight, especially after an incredible 1997 playoff run. The leader and “true Ranger” once again proved it was more about himself than the New York Rangers yet again when he walked away from the orginization and his cush job, because Sather made the right move and hired an actual coach, rather than a coach-killer with ZERO coaching experience.
Thirdly Brad Richards wil not be bought out this off season. Yikes! I pretty much hate this move, but I understand it for one reason. There certainly were conversations between Slats and Vigneault during the interview process regarding #19 where Vigneault probably asked for one year with Richards and his once plentiful offensive talent. That is the only possible reason to justify this move. Fortunately, the Rangers have until next year to buy out B-Rich and his 6.7 millions dollar per year albatross contract and most definitely will, as Henrik Lundqvist’s eventual monster deal goes on the books, unless of course, Richards gets hurt. Then the NYR are humped for 5 more years. Richards didn’t skate or even work out during the lockout and it showed. He will get a chance to prove last year was a fluke (it wasn’t) and try to find his lost game (he won’t.) Richards will say al the right things leading up to the season and you’ll see stories about how he is working out and is in the “best shape of his life” but it won’t matter. B-Rich may regain some of his past form briefly, but unless he puts up 90 points (he won’t) Richards will be gone. It’s a ballsy move by Slats because of the injury risk, but not a very bright move because keeping Richards and his anchor contract will prevent Slats from taking a chance on bought-out Vincent Lecavalier or signing UFA power forward Nathan Horton. And when Richard’s game eventually slips back to 2013 form, Richards will be watching games from the press box.
Fourth, the Rangers will be selecting 64th overall in this year’s draft. So you should be able to watch their selection on the NHL Network sometime around Wednesday. Unless that crafty villain Glen Sather has something up his sleeve, (perhaps, Michael Del Zotto and JT Miller for a scoring winger or banging defenseman?) the Rangers should add some organizational depth and hope for a late round steal.
2013 Rangers Draft – Projected
#19 Rick Nash – Signed Long term
#38 Ryane Clowe – UFA
#65 Large-Bodied Long-Term Project Defenseman
#75 3rd Liner from USNDPT
#80 Undersized Swede
#110 Signed Mike Richter Hockey card
#170 Blind German Shepherd
Lastly, the Rangers have to sign all of their RFAs and most certainly will. With 14 million of cap space available, look for it to to go something like this:
Ryan McDonagh – 3.5
Derek Stepan – 3.25
Carl Hagelin – 2.25
Mats Zucarello – 1.5
Justin Falk – 1
And maybe even Ryane Clowe for 2.5 per.
Just 90 days until
pitchers and catchers training camp opens.
Let’s go Rangers!