Thursday, June 30, 2011

Welcome To Free Agency 2011 Rangers Fans

The wait is almost over for free agency to begin and after giving out my opinions on various Rangers subjects heading into free agency I wanted to give someone else some space to write about what could happen in the near future and how it will shape the Rangers long term.  Here are Elissa's (@sarcasmpucktail) thoughts.

So tomorrow begins "Hockey Christmas" or the day Glen Sather makes one person incredibly happy by paying them more than they're worth.   Free agency creates a sense of fear and excitement in fans. Those who let emotions control are afraid of seeing their favorite players going off into the market. Those who care more about the name on the front are worried about overspending on players or signing players who won't improve the team.

This year’s free agency started out with a very thin market for unrestricted free agents…and in the days leading up to July 1, the pool keeps getting thinner.  It seems that many teams are either resigning their free agents or trading away their rights (and then having them re-traded in cases such as Christian Ehrhoff’s).

Since this is a Ranger-centric blog, I'm going to talk about the Rangers and of course that means I'm going to revolve my life around…:cue dramatic music:...Brad Richards. Surprised, aren't you?

Before the trade deadline even came along, the only free agent talked about was Brad Richards. He's an elite center and can possibly show us that spark we saw from Marian Gaborik in his first season wearing a blueshirt. Sounds great, doesn't it? Now, let's add the fact that he was the Conn Smythe winner from 2004 when who was the coach? John Tortorella.

Brad Richards knows he is the best available free agent this year so he's being pretty greedy in what he wants....and he's gonna get it and possibly, he's gonna get it from Glen Sather.  And why not? Why wouldn't Richards want to play in the world's most famous arena in front of a nearly sold out crowd every night? Plus he would be living in one of the greatest cities in the world.

I wonder though, will there be a clause in Richards contract that says:
"the undersigned agrees that when the fans at Madison Square Garden turn on me because I am not scoring on every power play and when they begin to hate me because I am taking up so much cap space, I will waive any no-trade or no-movement clauses I have so that the fan base will stop hating me."

Some people are incredibly excited to see Richards in New York...but how long will that last?  He wants a 7+ year contract, one that will run through his retirement. What if he doesn't play as well as he gets closer to 40? Not everyone is Nick Lidstrom who gets better with age.   The same people cheering now about how much they want him are the same ones who are going to drastically turn and call him useless when his production drops.  If he doesn’t put up at least a point a game, the fan base will begin to find new names for him every chance they get, or my favorite move by the Garden Faithful, booing him if he’s in the starting line-up.

So, Brad, still interested in coming to New York?

For discussion of Rangers offer sheets and predictions on what New York will do, join me after the jump.

Another issue going into free agency is our own restricted free agents. All of the restricted free agents, sans Matt Gilroy, were tendered qualifying offers. A qualifying offer just means that Sather offered the minimum he is allowed to open the door for negotiations, but it also opened the door for offer sheets. 

Sather wants to save cap space, so he's going to wait before negotiating with free agents. So to other GMs in the league, that says "hey, I'm having cap issues so I'm not making offers to a young Russian talent who has great potential, a feisty multifaceted player who can play center or wing and can score goals, a 2 way player filled with leadership coming off a career season, a big guy who learned to skate and score and can kill penalties, or a young solid defenseman would make a great addition to my team, so I'm gonna offer sheet them at more than Sather could possibly match" (in order: Anisimov, Dubinsky, Callahan, Boyle, Sauer) and the Rangers are down a top player, but we could have a lot of draft picks next year and possibly some high ones when looking at which teams have cap space.


There hasn't been much talk of other free agents, but here's what I expect this summer:
  • Sather is going to overpay an enforcer (yes, we have Prust, but his role has greatly expanded beyond the "fighter" role)
  • There will be overpayment on someone considered to be a "top 6" forward
  • One fan (most likely a blogger) will suggest a free agent who the Rangers should look at and the rest will instantly become obsessed with said free agent
  • The Rangers will sign a veteran defenseman who will be spending a lot of time in the press box this season
  • The fanbase will continue to fight over Sean Avery and his behavior both on and off the ice.
  • Someone is going to enter camp and shockingly make the team
    • In addition, every day from rookie camp through the start of the season, someone will ask Steve Zipay if Dylan McIlrath has a shot to make the team
      • On that topic, Zip will give sarcastic responses to anyone with a dumb question
  • At least one rookie will make the team…likely options: Erixon, Hagelin, or Thomas
  • Marty Biron will coach all shootouts
  • Michael Del Zotto will attempt to prove he is not lazy
  • We will lose at least one RFA to an offer sheet
  • The Rangers will NOT offer sheet Stamkos or Parise
  • There will be one veteran free agent signing
  • The above will lead to fans discussing straying from the "youth movement"
Welcome to Free Agency 2011