NHL Free Agency: Will a Patient New York Rangers Offseason Pay Off?
Do the New York Rangers need to swing for the fences or can they be successful playing small ball?
The answer is simple. Either way the Rangers should be successful, as long as Henrik Lundqvist is between the pipes.
For the last several years, the Rangers have gone into the offseason trying to improve their offense. They tried addressing it by key free-agent signings and even trades, but always found regular season success because of one man: Vezina winner Henrik Lundqvist.
Another offseason and the same holds true. The Rangers want to add more scoring to their lineup by possibly trading for another superstar to compliment Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards.
But the real question is: Do they really need one of them?
Last year, several teams used a score-by-committee approach and saw major success. The LA Kings won the Stanley Cup, and Anze Kopitar led the team with 25 goals and 76 points. What allowed them to hoist the cup was excellent goaltending coupled with solid defense. The Los Angeles Kings only managed to put up three 20-plus goal scorers.
The Rangers, on the other hand, appear to be taking a page out of the Detroit Red Wings book by developing their draft picks to play within their system.
Since the Rangers last championship in 1994, the Red Wings have raised the cup four different times. The development of their draft picks and a couple of free-agent acquisitions gave the Red Wings a chance to repeat every year. The Rangers have all of the settings to take this course.
The Rangers saw the emergence of rookie sensation Chris Kreider in last year's playoffs. This kid already started his NHL career by making a name for himself. Kreider scored five goals in 18 playoff games. Performances like that give Ranger fans hope.
Although a blockbuster move could do a lot for the Rangers, sitting idly could do more.
The Rangers have an abundance of young talent. Some of these players could jump right in and play at a high level (Carl Hagelin and Kreider), while others might need some grooming over the course of a season (Tim Erixon, Michael Del Zotto, etc). Spending some time with these guys could benefit the Rangers in the long run rather then spending a boat load of money.
The NHL has come out firing with their CBA demands. Among those demands, the NHL wants to drop the salary cap. On top of that, the NHL would look to extend the required years played before a player is eligible for free agency. And finally, the restructuring of the mega-contract deals would ultimately end the lifelong signings seen recently in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
Currently the Rangers have several players signed to big contracts. Adding another could cripple them in resigning some of their younger core.
Standing idly could allow the Rangers to continue to re-sign their draft picks with ease as opposed to massive number crunching to get around front-loaded contracts.
The Rangers have many roads ahead of them, most promising a successful season. But among the roads, one just might lead to a Stanley Cup.
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