Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rangers Need To Avoid Reverting To Obsession With Big Names

After missing the playoffs in 2009-10 season and looking at a summer where there was little to no money under the cap the expectations for New York Rangers fans were minimal in what the team would do.  The 2010-11 season saw the Rangers have career seasons from half the roster and incorporate numerous rookies into the NHL. The combination of hope that gave the fans about their individual futures and the fact the Rangers now have money has had the mentality of going after whatever big name is available return to the conversation this summer.
There is no doubt that the time will come where the Rangers will have to bring in pieces, through free agency and/or trade, in order to get over the hump and win a championship.  Despite the best efforts of many to convince otherwise, this is not that time.  New York is not one player away from winning a title next season, especially if bringing in that player slows the development of other pieces that the Rangers need to grow to be legitimate contenders. 
As fans there is the natural overvaluing and over-attachment to the players that are on your team.  There is also the overvaluing and assumption of what a player from outside can do for your team.  Brad Richards, Paul Stastny, Jason Spezza are all elite talents that can help a team be better, but the cost for each is high in different ways. 
For Richards the concern is not about the money, but the number of years you are paying that kind of salary to him.  With Stastny it is a combination of the cost and paying it off a down season to have another player making an elite salary who while an All-Star is not a star caliber player.  On Spezza you get an elite talent, but asset cost would like you end up with the Rangers having to cut deep into the depth they have built to make the deal.  If you could get Richards for three or four seasons, then you make the deal.  If Stastny or Spezza came at salary dump prices, then you are having different discussions.  The problem is none of those are going to happen.
The Rangers can make any of these moves and likely be a better team today, but the point of the rebuilding process was to have sustainable long-term success and not sacrifice it all for one shot.  We all want another Stanley Cup title in New York, but there is this urge to hit the panic button and go back to the old ways of chasing the biggest name at all costs instead of sticking with the system that has given the fans more reason to hope than in many years.
There is no reason that another year of development to see what the team really has in Anisimov, Stepan, Kreider, and Thomas, then make the decision as to where the holes are to be filled as you continue to have the reinforcements added from within.  It will take a combination of your own talent and outside pieces to win a championship so there is nothing that says this summer has to be the moment the Rangers look to buy the big name when the rest aren’t ready for prime time yet.  Trust the process and don’t look for the shortcut.  The quick fix is what got the Rangers into this mess over a decade and it will take time to be really ready to be out of it.  No reason to jump right back in with huge contracts in the hopes that they bring a title.