Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tortorella Doesn't Want Rangers "Adding For Sake of Adding"

With free agency just hours away at this point to get the insights of coach John Tortorella this afternoon is invaluable to understanding what the Rangers might be doing starting tomorrow at noon.  Tortorella focused mainly on how the club is developing their own players, but would be looking to add during free agency.  Jesse Spector of the New York Daily News has key quotes from Tortorella’s session with the media.
On the importance of July 1: “It’s an important day for us, because it’s a day where you have an opportunity to improve your team. I think we’re in a situation with our club right now where I think the past couple of years, we’ve kept our assets, and we’ve developed our assets, and stayed with it here. Then there’s a point of time where you’ve to got to say okay, they’re growing, we’ve got a good solid foundation. Now you start looking at areas where you add, maybe from outside the organization – free agency, trade, whatever it may be. I think we’re there. I really like the way Glen (Sather) has stayed with it, as far as allowing us, with our kids, to grow. I think we have a really strong foundation, and we’re at a different stage of the process. July 1 certainly comes into play.”

On optimism about July 1:  “I have no idea what’s going to happen. You never know what’s going to. Come July 1, it’s such a frenzy, you never know what’s going to happen. I just know our thinking is we’d like to improve our team in certain areas. Not just one particular area – you never know where it leads to. I know Glen and the whole organization feel, okay, there’s our kids, there’s our foundation, now let’s see where we can add and continue to try to get better. There may be a situation where, you know what, that didn’t work – let’s not just add for the sake of adding, and stay with it. That’s a key, come July 1, because it turns into such a frenzy that you get a little crazy. If it isn’t what we need, and it isn’t the right fit for us right now, then we have to stand pat and continue to develop.”

Those two quotes when combined tell you that Tortorella thinks the team is close to being a serious contender, but does not want to push the process by going after just anyone.  The piece the Rangers add has to be the right one.  It leaves the impression that Brad Richards is the only guy in the unrestricted market they want to spend on and if they do not get him that Tortorella wants to stick with what he has and move forward.

While my opinion on Brad Richards being a good piece for now, but not the long-term is clear, if the Rangers decide he is the piece they need to be a contender, you just have to hope it works out for the best.  It is good to see that they don’t plan, or at least Tortorella doesn’t want them to just revert back purely to the mode of buying answers.  It has been the elimination of that idea that for the most part has been the cause for the resurgence in young talent on the roster and hope for the future.

Be sure to check out Jesse's blog for the full transcript that discusses Drury, prospect camp, and what free agents Tortorella would like to bring back.

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.

Rangers Announce Third Exhibition Game In Europe.

Jesse Spector tweets that the New York Rangers have finalized plans for a third exhibition game in Europe this fall.  On October 3 in Zug, Switzerland they will take on EV Zug.  This game falls right in between the other two announced exhibition games and the start of the regular season.  The previously announced games are against HC Sparta Prague on September 29th and the Frölunda Indians on September 30th with starting the season on October 7th against the Kings in Stockholm.

Rumor: Callahan, Rangers "A Ways Apart" On New Contract

With the unrestricted free agent market already thin and seemingly thinning by the moment, many teams will likely look towards the restricted free agent market this summer.  Some will be looking for talent to push their team into contention for a title while others might just be looking to find players that help them get the salary cap floor.

In examining potential RFA targets, Craig Custance of the Sporting News, spoke with Steve Bartlett, the agent for Rangers forward Ryan Callahan.  Bartlett sees more activity happening on the RFA market this summer and then he discussed the contract talks with the Rangers to this point on Callahan.
“The Rangers and Callahan have had ongoing contract negotiations that Bartlett described as friendly and “somewhat productive.” But there’s a gap. “We’re still a ways apart. I don’t think anything is going to happen over the next few days. We’ll see what July 1 brings in terms of what the marketplace holds for him,” Bartlett said.”
There is no need to panic about this type of news at this stage.  The fact that there is a gap between what the two sides think Callahan is worth does not mean he is leaving.  That the talks are friendly and having productivity is a good sign for the final outcome of negotiations.  He is widely presumed to be the next captain of the team and is the epitome of the identity that coach John Tortorella wants this team to have.  However, I do believe there is a salary level that Callahan could receive an offer sheet that the Rangers would allow him to walk away for the compensation.  Those who believe that the Rangers have to match Callahan at any level are overvaluing what he brings though I suspect anything at $4.5 million or lower would be matched.

The fact that these types of scenarios always seem to be possible for the Rangers is another frustrating thing about the way Glen Sather handles contracts.  In the unrestricted market he is more than willing to vastly overpay players from other teams to come here, but with his own players he gets tough and has these situations linger on.  There is no reason the Rangers could not have had at least a couple of the five restricted free agents already have their next contract done before July 1.