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Friday, July 15, 2011

Rangers Option: Acquiring Another Impact Player

With Brian Boyle now re-signed for an average of $1.7M per for the next three years, the Ranger can now focus on re-upping their big two remaining RFAs, Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. Boyle got a nice reward for a break out season that saw him post his first double digit goals total in the NHL, with 21.

The former first round draft pick (2003) of the Los Angeles Kings, Boyle gained the trust of Ranger coach John Tortorella, seeing his ice time nearly double from year over year, from 8:25 to 15:44  minutes. Also, The 6'7" giant took more draws than anyone else on the Rangers this past season. Back to Dubinsky and Callahan, I'm estimating those two to come in at around $3.5M per season each, on multi-year deals just like Boyle.

With those signings, GM Glen Sather may be done with his roster make over up front. Rumors exist of Wojtek Wolski being bought out as the Rangers would be able to take advantage of the small cap hit that would result since he falls into the one third buyout category because of his age.

The thought of Marian Gaborik being healthy for a full season, however, being somewhat of a precarious notion, I expect Wolski to remain on the Rangers considering his inclusion doesn't handicap Sather from a cap perspective. That is, unless he Sather is considering a very large acquisition.

That being said, lets now take a closer look at the roster to see what we have currently. Up front the team looks more solid than it has in decades perhaps. A true dynamic duo may be born this October. The left-handed  Brad Richards will almost certainly be paired with the right-handed Gaborik.

The trigger man, in this case Gaborik, will feel quite visible to his premier setup man, Richards, since the latter will not have to be on the back hand when looking for Gaborik coming down the right side on an offensive rush. Instead, Richards will be mostly be on the forehand when looking for his soon to be favorite right winger. Certainly Louis Eriksson in Dallas benefited from playing on Richards' right wing for around 75% of the time while even strength.

The ultra skilled Gaborik hasn't played with a center like Richards since his days in Minnesota where he mostly lined up with Mikko Koivu his final season there and Pavol Demitra before that. I expect Gabby to play 60 games or more. If he can get into the 70+ GP area, his numbers should balloon back up to the 80 point (40+40).

Who plays on the left wing on that line? I think we could see a steady rotation of players including left handers Dubinsky, Ruslan Fedotenko, Artem Anisimov, and possibly even right handed Derek Stepan, among others. Considering none will likely be able to stay hot enough consistently enough, I expect to see some even Sean Avery and Wolski on the big line -- if they're still on the roster.

Dubinsky has the chance of sticking longest considering he'll be expected to log big minutes. His value on the face-off (52.4% with the total number of faceoffs taken only second to Boyle) can not be over looked however. Therefore, he'll likely also be deployed as a center (or winger) on the second line. His traditional linemates last year were afterall Callahan and Anisimov.

With the available cap space, I expect Sather to add another veteran defenseman, and then bank cap any leftover space to add another impact addition at the trade deadline. There have been reports that blueliner Sami Lepisto could be a depth signing. Now he's a lefty, where as a righty may be more suitable for Tim Erixon or Michael Del Zotto -- both left handed shots.

Another possibility is Sather swapping one of the extra forwards for a blueliner. Or taken to the next level, trade one of the abundant top nine centers  (specifically youthful Anisimov or Stepan) for a top six defenseman or a top six left winger. And if either is packaged with Wolski, Sather may be able to get both a blueliner  and winger in the same deal.

Thinking Ales Hemsky ... perhaps Hemsky + Theo Peckham for Anisimov + Wolski (with some draft picks sprinkled in on either side to make it completely fair).

The starting lineup will be one in semi-constant flux, until Sather and Torts find the permanent solution to the left wing spot on the top line. Not to mention, injuries and slumps will cause considerable havoc. Thus, I would consider the projected lineup below as a simple guide to a very fluid roster.

New York Rangers
Left WingCap HitTOICenterCap HitTOIRight WingCap HitTOI
Wojtek Wolski$3.800m14:34Brad Richards$6.666m21:43Marian Gaborik$7.500m 18:05
Brandon Dubinsky$4.200m20:13Derek Stepan$0.875m16:26Ryan Callahan$4.275m19:54
Ruslan Fedotenko$1.400m14:59Artem Anisimov$1.875m16:12Mats Z.Aasen$1.750m 14:10
Michael Rupp$1.500m10:03Brian Boyle$1.700m15:44Brandon Prust$0.800m 13:48
Sean Avery$1.937m11:14Erik Christensen$0.925m 12:45
Left DefenseCap HitTOIRight DefenseCap HitTOIGoalieCap HitGP
Marc Staal$3.975m25:44Daniel Girardi$3.325m 24:34Henrik Lundqvist$6.875m68
Ryan McDonagh$1.300m18:44Mike Sauer$1.250m 17:31Martin Biron$0.875m 17
Tim Erixon$1.750mrookMichael Del Zotto$1.087m 19:29
Steve Eminger$0.800m15:51
Buy Outs$3.716mChris Drury

Cap Payroll$64.156mBonuses: $2.338m
Salary Cap$64.300m
Cap Space$0.144mRoster Size: 22 players
Certain data courtesy and | * Estimates


July, 20/11:
$527,000 in bonus overages carrying over from last season, reducing the cap space projection above to <$1m.

July, 21/11:
Dubinsky re-signed today for 4Y x $4.2M (3.75M, 3.75M, 4.65M, 4.65M) avoiding arbitration just hours away.

Next up Callahan, whose agent, Steve Bartlett was quoted today as saying, "Any signing of a player of similar age and accomplishments affects players who share restricted free goal is always to negotiate a fair deal with the team...I will continue to do so in the hope of avoiding arbitration."

July, 25/11:
Steve Eminger, who was a UFA, re-signed today for 1Y x $800K. He is the right handed shooting blueliner that will be paired with one of MDZ or Erixon as a bottom pairing. If all three make the team, then one of the one-way contracts among the forwards will likely go (I'd guess Christensen).

July 27/11:
@RealKyper Nick Kypreos Twitter: #NHL news. Hearing #Rangers Ryan Callahan will not being going to an arb hearing as he's settled on signing a new 3 year deal...believed to be in the ball park of 13M.

@RealKyper Nick Kypreos Twitter: #NHL news. Final $ are in for #Rangers Ryan Callahan new 3 year deal. 4.275 is aav. Total is 12.825M.

@JawandaPuck JawandaPuck Twitter: Ryan Callahan signs 3Y x $4.275M; leaves #NYR with ~$700K in cap space with MDZ in minors; will make trade for 2 reasons

Sept 19/11:
"Tortorella admitted today that the Rangers are monitoring the market for defensemen, but said that they were doing so even before Staal (concussion) had to be taken out of training camp."

By my count, there isn't much space left for a pricey d-man. However, moving the somewhat redundant Erik Christensen would create a more flexibility to add to the NYR existing roster.

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