Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rangers Roster Far From Set

The frenzy of the first weekend of free agency has settled and the New York Rangers got the number one center they have been craving in Brad Richards, toughness they need in Mike Rupp and retained an important cog in the system with the re-signing of Ruslan Fedotenko.  It was a good weekend for Glen Sather as all of his deals, at least in terms of salary cap charges, came in below what others were paying for relative talent.  The moves and dearth of options available in the free agent market likely takes the Rangers out of it other than for possibly for a Steve Eminger type depth defender.  That does not mean the roster is anywhere near done for the next few months.

Counting Mats Zuccarello the Rangers currently have 10 forwards under contract for next season which does not count restricted free agents Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, and Brian Boyle.  When all four of those guys are signed the Rangers will have 14 forwards under contract for next season, while having prospects like Carl Hagelin on the verge of being ready for the NHL as well.  This means that something is going to happen in the Rangers’ forward core before opening night whether it be a trade, a buyout or someone gets waived in camp.

Wojtek Wolski and Erik Christensen are the two names most consistently brought, but the key to the organization’s decision might stem from their decision on what goes on with the various left wing positions and where Brian Boyle is supposed to play in the lineup.  If the Boyle line is kept together, but moved down to the fourth line it has consequences in terms of what types of players are needed in the rest of the lineup.  If they are the third line the Rangers will likely carry more physical or grinding players as the fourth line, but if they are the fourth line then more skill could survive in the lineup.  Either way the Rangers, who did very well during the flurry of free agency, still have big decisions to make on their roster and will use all the avenues available to them to do so.  It is the nature of the business and how championship quality teams are constructed.