Last year it was the New York Rangers making headline news during the early weeks of free agency. This year, the Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild snatched that crown from the Rangers' heads with their offseason moves.
The Rangers found themselves as a finalist in the Justin Schultz sweepstakes. Ultimately, it was the Edmonton Oilers who inked this highly sought after University of Wisconsin defenseman. This signing came shortly after the Oilers drafted Nail Yakupov with this year's first overall pick.
Then, the world waited to see where Zach Parise and Ryan Suter would call home. When it was all said and done, it was the Minnesota Wild who inked the both of them with identical 13-year contracts.
The first week of free agency saw most of the sought after free agents come to terms with their respective teams. Unfortunately, none of those big names came to the New York Rangers.
In the early stages, the Rangers looked like they were trying to add toughness to their already gritty team.
While Asham can match Prust's toughness and fighting abilities, he will surely fall short to matching his value to the team. Prust spent years building a chemistry with his teammates, earning the fans' respect and love and his pay check.
Brandon Prust was a workhorse on the penalty kill and was very capable of scoring the short handed goals—doing things that do not happen over night. This is one area of Prust's game that Asham cannot match.
To add to that, the Rangers then went out and obtained Michael Haley. Haley, who is known for his fists and not his goal scoring, is most likely an answer to John Scott's departure to Buffalo.
Because of the July 1 signings, we will probably see an increase in the Rangers' fight major totals. But, they failed to address the major concerns the team previously had.
Days later, the Rangers made their first decent offseason move—signing Taylor Pyatt. The signing increased depth at left wing.
In 73 games last year, Pyatt netted 9 goals and registered 19 points. Even though it wasn't a significant signing, it was a step in the right direction.
The Rangers took another stride forward, obtaining Jeff Halpren. The Halpren signing addressed a few areas. First, the Rangers gave themselves a little more depth at center but, more importantly, it took care of the difficulties the Rangers had in the faceoff circle.
Last year, Halpren won over 54 percent of his draws. Again, this signing doesn't address the scoring needs the Rangers have, but it did bring in a guy who can take over Prust's role on the penalty kill.
|John Mitchell (Avalanche)||Arron Asham (Penguins)||Stu Bickel|
|Brandon Prust (Canadians)||Michael Haley (Islanders)||Kris Newbury|
|John Scott (Sabres)||Taylor Pyatt (Coytoes)|
|Jeff Woywitka (Blues)||Jeff Halpren (Capitals)|
|Ruslan Fedotenko (Flyers)||Brandon Segal (Lightning)|
There still are a couple of enticing free agents the Rangers might have interest in.
One being Shane Doan.
Doan said he was going to wait until July 9 before he addresses his future. That time has come and gone, but has been extended to July 16. Kevin Allen of USAToday has reported that Doan is evaluating offers from multiple teams, and you can bet the Rangers have submitted one.
If signed, Doan would help in the scoring department. The Phoenix captain scored 22 goals and 50 points last season. His two-way style of play is what makes him attractive to the Rangers' front office. If the Rangers could land Doan, it could allow them to pull ahead of their division foes.
To this point, the Rangers haven't addressed the scoring issue. In a rather small pool of goal scoring free agents, the Rangers turned their focus to a possible trade for one.
Just as quickly as free agency started, so did the Rick Nash and Bobby Ryan trade rumors. At this time, the Rangers landing either one of these stars is looking bleak.
Another offseason story gaining stream is the uncertainty of Shea Weber. The Rangers have been looking for a puck moving defenseman to quarterback the power play.
Weber is that guy, and the Rangers would consider trading a larger variety of players—players they wouldn't consider (via The Post) in a Nash or Ryan deal. The only players the Rangers will not part ways with to obtaining Weber are Callahan, Lundqvist, McDonagh, Girardi and Kreider.
Gaborik and Richards both have no-trade clauses, which makes them unattainable as well. If Nashville decides to deal Weber, the Rangers have a plethora of young talent that might entice the Predators.
Thus far, it has been a fairly disappointing offseason for Ranger fans. Between the losing and signing of several players, the Rangers seem to still be at square one.
It's still early and moves will be made, but it is undetermined if the Rangers are going to be one of the teams to make any.
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