The New York Rangers enter the 2014-15 a much different team than the one that made the Stanley Cup Final last spring.
Gone are contributing players like Anton Stralman, Benoit Pouliot, Brad Richards, and lesser players such as Brian Boyle and Dan Carcillo. In came Dan Boyle, Lee Stempniak, Tanner Glass, and Ryan Malone.
It remains to be seen if these moves will offset each other and allow the Rangers to make another deep playoff run.
A roster related topic that deserves attention is the construction of the New York Rangers defense corp. for the long term.
Glen Sather deserves all the credit in the world for locking up Ryan McDonagh to a contract that has a 4.7M AAV until 2018-19. That is one of the best contracts in hockey. However, if you move past that great contract he has set himself up for some disappointment with the rest of the defense corp.
There is a trio of defensemen that I believe he has mishandled, or is going to mishandle. This trio includes Anton Stralman, Dan Girardi, and Marc Staal. One of these players is a cut above the rest and will cost the least. That is the player who is no longer in the Rangers long term plans. Anton Stralman is now property of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the reasonable price of 4.5M per year until 2018-19.
Dan Girardi recently signed a long term deal that will pay him 5.5M until 2019-20 to stay with the Rangers.
Marc Staal is currently in the last year of his contract that pays him 3.975M per year. He will be an unrestricted free agent and it is likely that he signs a long term deal in New York that will pay him in the neighborhood of 5-5.5M annually. He is part of New York's leadership group and I think there is a very small chance Glen Sather either trades him or lets him walk. Staal has also has an injury history that includes concussions and an eye injury.
And therein lies the problem. The two guys that Sather shouldn't pay are the ones that will be paid when it is all said and done. The best value of the bunch was the one allowed to move on.
Stralman is consistently positive and is clearly the best player at driving possession among the three. Marc Staal and Dan Girardi each have one OK season at driving possession and the rest has been in the negative. They will combine for at least 10M against the New York Rangers cap for the long term. That is not exactly great value. Will these contracts kill the Rangers ability to field a good team? No, not necessarily, but when you are a team that spends close to the cap ceiling each year every cent counts.
When you overspend in certain areas of the team you need to make up for it elsewhere. During this past offseason Glenn Sather signed Tanner Glass to a 3(!) year contract worth 1.45M. This is the opposite of finding value, this was one of the worst contracts handed out over the summer.
When you look at how Sather handled the Stralman situation and combine it with signings like Tanner Glass it really has to make you wonder if the Rangers being a really good possession team was an accident last season.
You only get so much wiggle room with the cap, will these poor value contracts come back to bite the Rangers down the road? Time will tell.
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