With the 2011-12 season rapidly coming to a close, looking towards the offseason and teams potential moves is something you can do anytime.
The New York Rangers came within two games of playing in the Stanley Cup Final against the L.A. Kings, but lost in Game 6 to the New Jersey Devils in overtime. Some say the Rangers overachieved, but their young players developed ahead of scheduled and propelled the team to a banner season, giving much hope heading in to 2012-13.
The one area that can be looked at as a reason why New York couldn't advance farther this postseason is their depth. The Rangers failed to acquire any additional players at the trading deadline (John Scott doesn't count) that could play and it hurt the team as the playoffs continued, with some players suffering from fatigue and nagging injuries while others barely saw more than 5 minutes a game.
Moving forward, as you can see, teams that win the Stanley Cup get stronger as series move on, so for us this year the big thing is to add depth so we don’t have to use as many players as much as we did.
The more depth you have, the less chance of wearing players down and having injuries.
Usually, when Mark Messier speaks, you listen.
The Rangers will, like many other teams, look to make serious moves in order to be in prime position for a chance at the Stanley Cup next season. The usual suspects range from Ryan Suter to Zach Parise.
However, with Messier's words in mind, let's take a look at five depth players the New York Rangers could sign for the 2012-13 season.
Just like with an abundance of pitchers in baseball, a hockey team can never have enough defensemen. It's the toughest position to play and very susceptible to injury from the position's physical nature and ability to block shots—two areas Bruins free-agent defenseman Greg Zanon excels at.
Two traits the New York Rangers like to have in their defensemen.
The 32-year-old blueliner was acquired at the deadline by Boston from Minnesota and finished his season with eight points, 136 blocked shots while averaging 17:48 of ice time per game. Those numbers would slot in nicely as a second or third-pair defenseman for the Rangers.
Zanon's last contract came with a cap hit of $1.93 million per season. With the Rangers set with Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto but uncertain about Michael Sauer's health following a concussion, Zanon becomes a veteran defenseman on a great, young back line.
Depending on what direction Zanon feels his career is heading, he could be a quality addition to the Rangers defense corps if he's willing to take a short-term deal at a lower rate.
During the first round of the playoffs, the New York Rangers witnessed first hand what a team that can regularly win faceoffs do. Along with Jason Spezza, Zenon Konopka seemingly won every faceoff, sometimes leading to goals while other times leading to prolonged possesion.
As the old saying goes, if you can't beat them, join them.
At 31 years old, Konopka would be a great addition to the Rangers' bottom six adding his ability to consistently win faceoffs. He finished the regular season at 58.9 percent, and a whopping 70.6 percent in the playoffs.
Konopka also brings with him a physical edge and can ease the burden of fighting from Brandon Prust—something the Rangers would like him to stop considering he's also one of the team's quality penalty killers.
Konopka's salary was $700k last season and doesn't stand to make much more on the open market. If Ottawa fails to re-sign one of its better faceoff men, the New York Rangers would be wise to bring him in on a short-term deal.
If the Rangers decide to bring in a player of Steve Sullivan's ilk, it will be because they lost Ruslan Fedotenko—another of the team's free agents—to another team.
It's taken him a few seasons, but after playing 79 games (and scoring 48 points) last season for the Pittsburgh Penguins, it looks as if Sullivan has fully recovered from his serious back injury from 2007.
The shifty, pint-sized forward would bring in veteran leadership and a scoring touch to the bottom six of the Rangers—an area the Rangers had trouble finding production from in the playoffs. His puck-handling abilities might be well served on the power play, as well.
If Sullivan decides not to re-sign with Pittsburgh, and the Rangers have the need to add a veteran, both parties would benefit. His salary was $1.5 million last season, and should expect to get somewhere in that vicinity in the offseason.
This may be more of a long-term solution—or a pipe dream—but David Jones would be a great addition to the Rangers right-wing depth chart for next season.
Jones is just 27 years old, has good size (6'2'' 210 lbs) and good scoring ability (two straight 20-goal seasons, including 27 in 2010-11). Colorado also has a ton of cap room to work with and will look to re-sign all their key players and perhaps a big, free-agent splash.
Still, if Jones and the Avalanche fail to come to terms on a deal, many teams would like to add Jones' services and the Rangers would be one of them. He's a versatile scoring winger, and the Rangers' bottom six could certainly use more offensive production.
Jones has yet to cash in on a long-term contract (his cap hit was $2.5 million last season) in the NHL and this offseason might be the time to do so. However, if Jones is looking to leave Colorado, and take a shorter deal, New York could be the right destination.
Before you fly off the handle and say the Rangers already have a backup goalie, Martin Biron is also a free agent this offseason and, until his name is on the dotted line, there's no guarantee he comes back. He's had two very good seasons on Broadway and may feel he can start with another team and perhaps get more money on the open market.
If Biron is content backing up Henrik Lundqvist, then there are no worries. However, if he isn't, you have to consider other options going into next season, and Scott Clemmensen would be a good understudy.
Florida already has Jose Theodore and rookie Jacob Markstrom is waiting in the wings to be the future No. 1 goalie, leaving Clemmensen's place on the Panthers going into next season very uncertain. He's coming off a three-year deal, and may look to take a short-term deal to re-establish his value, or may be satisfied playing the backup role for another team.
If you're looking for a scouting report on the Devils former goalie, check out Justin from Blue Seat Blogs' evaluation of Clemmesen's talents:
Clemmensen is cut from a fairly similar cloth to Biron. Solid in most aspects of the game without really excelling at anything. He possesses solid lateral movement and overall mobility, relatively strong positioning, and the ability to step in and start for extended periods without losing too much from your starter in the case of injury (Hank’s otherworldly baseline notwithstanding). His biggest asset is his size and frame, which he uses well to make up for less than elite physical tools.
Should Martin Biron not be re-signed, the 34-year-old goalie would be solid replacement.