Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pashnin Coming To North America Next Year Not A Done Deal

Recently it was reported that Mikhail Pashnin was leaving the KHL to come to North America this season to try and make the NHL.  Laurie Carr at Beyond the Blueshirts clarifies the situation saying that Pashnin has not made a final decision yet on where he will play next season. 
“At the current moment, Pashnin has not signed any contract, either with CSKA Moscow or the Rangers.  All roads are open for Mikhail,” he stressed.  “Anything’s possible.”
The holdup is likely that the Rangers are not offering the kind of money he wants and certainly not what he could be making in the KHL.  The crowded defense corps would not help that decision either as he is unlikely to get a real shot at the NHL this season and would be amongst a host of defensive prospects playing in the AHL.  Either way there is a blockade of players standing between him and the NHL in the system, so maybe for him it is better to continue getting paid over in the KHL.  The Rangers desire to have him here and under their tutelage is obvious, but Pashnin will decide what is best for him and his future.  Either way it appears the decision will be made within the next few weeks.

Have Rangers Built A Championship Window or A System To Contend For Long Run?

During the 2010-11 season discussion about the New York Rangers and legitimate expectations was always prefaced with the fact they were going through a gradual rebuilding process and to look for 2012-13 as their best chance to turn the corner into contenders.  To some extent the success they had last year, for parts of the season, and the hope young players brought for the future had the organization shift the plan gradually and bring in Brad Richards because of the belief they were close to contention now.  The organization added to that with a commitment to each of the key restricted free agents that gave the team so much hope last season.  If everything goes perfectly there is a chance they can be a contender this year because they have the goaltending, multiple elite offensive players and skilled role players who do whatever it takes to win.

Mike Hume at ESPN New York goes a step further and says that the team with the moves they made advanced their window to be championship contenders, but potentially put an end date on it as well.
The window to win a Stanley Cup is now open in New York.

The offseason work of GM Glen Sather and the rest of the front office has brought the Blueshirts both high-end talent and long-term stability. With the signing of Brad Richards and the extension of restricted free agents Brian Boyle, Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan, the Rangers' core roster will be locked in place for the next three seasons. The Rangers should be, and likely will be, considered Stanley Cup contenders this fall. But the clock will now be ticking.

After these next three seasons, that window could close in a hurry. In the summer of 2014, Callahan, Boyle, Marian Gaborik, Dan Girardi and Henrik Lundqvist will all hit unrestricted free agency.

Simply put, New York's time is now.
Hume is absolutely right that the summer of 2014 will be a critical point for the Rangers in terms of what is still here after, but there is much more to the story than just the names that will be due new contracts.  This group of players, according to Capgeek, is responsible for $23.675 million of the Rangers cap space for the next three seasons.  Throw in Mike Rupp’s $1.5 million and you are looking at $25.125 million to keep the players on the list who are still performing and bring in others.  The counter to that side of it though is each of those players are likely going through their prime years within the next three seasons, but the Rangers have plenty more on the way that likely will not meet their full impact in the window Hume has laid out.

Rangers young players Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, and Artem Anisimov are only going to grow more as they gain age and experience in the league while refining their games.  Additionally the Rangers have Chris Kreider, Christian Thomas, Dylan McIlrath amongst other key prospects that have not even hit the league yet and have the potential to be key pieces for the future.

The number of questions for the Rangers heading into this year and the quality of the rest of the league might make being a contender this year too much to ask, but next season they should be knocking on the door and the 2013-14 season be amongst the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.  Where I disagree with Hume is the assertion that the window likely closes at that point, though there is a lot that can happen between now and that point.  The most fascinating thing to watch over the next few years with the Rangers organization is how much getting close to contention will bring back the urge to sell youth and prospects to win now against the notion of building something that can replenish itself as contracts expire and certain players move on.