I think we’re going to be fairly aggressive in the free-agent market. What we really don’t want to do is dismantle the core of our organization. We’ve got a lot of good young kids, and we want to let them grow and develop.
Those words uttered by Glen Sather—via the New York Times—had fans optimistic about the impending free agency period. But given his lack of activity, could Sather be banking on a work stoppage?
Sixteen days have passed since the start of the free agent frenzy, and Sather has done nothing out of the ordinary. He has replaced Brandon Prust, John Mitchell, Ruslan Fedotenko and John Scott with Taylor Pyatt, Arron Asham, Michael Haley and Jeff Halpern.
Batting Down The Hatches
The Rangers have done a good job shoring up on depth and addressing minor areas that plagued them during the playoffs; face-offs, grit, experience and bodies were hard to come by.
Bench boss John Tortorella needed experienced veterans he could trust, and Sather has acquired some for him.
However, Sather hasn't made a big splash by adding a sorely-needed scorer to a team that will start the season without their top sniper in Marian Gaborik.
Sather is a mercurial general manager who is calm and calculated. He knows what his team needs and is one of the most experienced general managers in the league. He may be sensing that the season will not start on time.
He also could sense that there could be changes coming with a new CBA, so it makes better sense to wait and do nothing. If the new CBA rolls back contracts, alters new deal lengths or other things related to cap flexibility, Sather doesn't want to pigeonhole himself.
Nash and Nashville
The scorer Sather wants to add is available but at a price he doesn't want to meet. If the season were to start in November, would the Rangers need Nash as much as they would in October, considering Gaborik's injury?
Right now the Rangers are the only serious team left in Rick Nash trade negotiations. Talks have hit a standstill, and there isn't progress to be made. The asking price for Nash is also something that Sather has some qualms about.
He isn't willing to trade his "kids" in a super offer for Nash.
Larry Brooks, however, noted that his attitude could change if Shea Weber became available.
Brooks of the New York Post talked about how Weber and the Rangers could be a perfect fit.
The Rangers need to add offense, absolutely. But they could do that by adding a weapon on the power-play point every bit as much as they could by adding a winger. Fact is, the team ranked right in the middle of the league in five-on-five goals while finishing 23rd in power-play efficiency.
Weber was on for 47 of the 54 goals Nashville scored in leading the NHL at 21.6 percent on the man-advantage, on for one power-play goal every 5:38, another NHL best. For comparison, Michael Del Zotto, on at the point for 28 of the Blueshirts’ 44 PPGs, had a ratio of one for every 11:31.
Considering that the Predators and Weber mutually extended the qualifying offer deadline to August 1, maybe Sather could be waiting to see how that situation fizzles out.
In the same column, Brooks explained that the "quarantined" players would change if Weber was up for grabs.
Those scenarios are all real possibilities, but there has to be more to this situation. If the season starts in late November/early December, Marian Gaborik will be back, and Sather will be in a pretty nice scenario. He will be in a position of strength and ready to make a deal.
The UFA class of 2013 is set to be one of the deepest in years. It will feature Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, Jarome Iginla, Patrik Elias, Kimmo Timonen, Michael Ryder, Joffrey Lupul, Ryan Clowe and many other marquee names set to become free agents on July 1, 2013.
With a UFA class this deep, significant cap space saved and assets in tack, Sather could make a play and acquire at least one of these big names for a playoff run. There would be too many options at this point for Sather to strike out.
The 2012 class had big names that wouldn't be moved by their teams. But after seeing how that worked out in the end, it is safe to say that general managers will be more open to trading their impending UFAs this time.
Of those big names listed, Michael Ryder, Ryan Clowe, Joffrey Lupul, Corey Perry and Jarome Iginla would all be solid fits on the Rangers for a playoff run and players Sather would potentially target.
All those wingers can score 25 or more goals, are offensive-minded players and would fit in with the Rangers style of play. Ryder, Perry and Clowe would probably be the ideal fit because of their skill, physicality and talent.
It could cost Derek Stepan J.T. Miller, another prospect and draft pick for Rick Nash. But it could only cost Glen Sather a fraction of that to make a deadline deal for one of those big-name impending free agents.
When a player is going to become a free agent, general managers lose some leverage, because if they feel they can't retain them, they could have another Zach Parise/Ryan Suter situation on their hands.
This is just speculation, but Sather has been too quiet for too long to not be thinking about something big.
After looking at all the facts, Ranger fans have nothing to be alarmed about. Sather has not overpaid for a free agent, he hasn't traded away tons of assets and he hasn't done anything stupid.
Sather has learned from his old ways, and if my logic is correct, he senses that by the time the NHL season starts, Gaborik will be close to coming back. Sather can then hit the trade market, an area where he does his best work.