What Can The Rangers Do When Looking at Today's Market?

Michael SteinCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2009

Like everyone else, I believe that with the current grouping of players the Rangers have, there is very little chance we're going to go far into the playoffs. 

If we don't start actually playing to our potential... getting to the playoffs almost certainly will also be in question itself.

So at the end of the day, moves need to be made.  Here's our roster, if you include Sean Avery:

Center: Drury, Gomez, Dubinsky, Korpikoski, Betts, Anisimov

Wing: Naslund, Dawes, Prucha, Callahan, Avery, Orr, Sjostrom, Voros, Rissmiller, Zherdev

Defense: Mara, Kalinin, Girardi, Staal, Reitz, Redden, Roszival

Goal: Lundqvist, Valiquette

The obvious... an incredibly large amount of money is tied up in our starting 6... which you could list as Gomez, Drury, Naslund, Redden, Roszival and Lundqvist.  Together, they are making about $45 million this year alone!  I believe this year, the cap is at $55 million.  If I'm right, then these 5 players make up about 80% of our payroll.  That, my friends... is f-ing ludicrous.

What's not up for debate is the ridiculousness of this.  Even if all these players were playing unbelievable top notch hockey... the Rangers are still going to be in a salary cap crisis, considering both Zherdev and Dubinsky are going to be RFA's in July. 

I look at other teams like the Lightning from a few years back... getting rid of Khabibulin because they knew they couldn't afford him, with the big 3.

And even up to now.  Brad Richards has been traded, and both Lecavalier and St. Louis have been in rumors for a few months now.  These players aren't being moved because of their ineffectiveness.... they are being moved because they size of their contracts stifles the organization. 

You can't make multiple and impactful moves when a majority of your salary is placed in just a handful of players. 

We saw the Lightning go from Stanley Cup powerhouse, to bottom dwelling laughingstock.  They didn't have the money at the time to pursue a top notch goaltender. 

Look at the Sens today.  How much money was invested in Spezza, Alfredsson, Heatley and Gerber?  Again, too much given to a few, and it hurt their abilities on the ice.  Same as Tampa... contender to last place.

Now look at us.  40 something million of a 50 million dollar payroll is given to 6 players.  Undeniably, a majority of the "big 6" are not doing what they need to be.  The only player I'll give a pass to is Lundqvist... and even he isn't having an amazing season... but that also is attributed to the defense playing in front of him. 

My point though, is that while looking at other teams that have been in a similar style of peril... they truly have had trouble finding success after loading up on overpriced talent.

Now I say all this, after looking at 2 of the latest trades that have occurred.  The first, was Montreal's move to get Mathieu (why did the Rangers ever let him go again?) Schneider, and the Islanders picking up Mike (Ms. Hillary Duff) Comrie, and Chris (I can't think of anything else to say in here) Campoli.

What's important to note in each of these moves, lots of picks were involved.  Considering the cap, draft picks might have some of the highest value... higher than they've ever had.

Look at what certain players were able to get... first, Mathieu Schneider, making insane money ($5 million and change... prorated though, probably only about a million and a half), who will be unrestricted at the end of this year, got I believe a 2nd and a 3rd from Montreal.  That's not bad whatsoever.

Now look at Ottawa.  They picked up a washed up center in Mike Comrie... who obviously peaked early in Edmonton and has struggled to find his was since, and Chris Campoli, who to me, was the obvious target.  Campoli is a solid puck moving defenseman, probably a second pairing guy. 

However, Ottawa's been dying for a guy who can move the puck, and he can surely fit in.  They gave up a 1st round pick... San Jose's... so it'll be late round... and Dean McAmmmond... a heart and soul 3rd or 4th line center. 

They way I see it, is that Ottawa upgraded at center and at defense... while giving up a No. 1 pick. 

However, for the sake of argument... if you wash out Comrie and McAmmond... Campoli, in Murray's eyes, was worth a 1st round pick?

So, two puck moving defenseman... three draft picks.  What does that tell you about the premium put on guys moving the puck from the blueline?

This goes back to my list of the "big six" up top.  If you look at those two defenseman, Roszival and Redden... they are getting paid as if they are two of the more premier puck movers.  The past few years, Roszival has put up some solid points for us... not so much anymore however.  Same with Redden... three, 4 years back... he was one of the linchpins of Ottawa's success. 

Here's my point... if an unproven defender with decent upside can fetch a 1st rounder... if Sather put either... or both... Redden and Roszival on the market... what might they be worth?

An even better question... someone who is making a decent salary in Dmitri Kalinin... who would be a rental and therefore a salary dump at this moment... how much would his puck moving skills be worth? 

He proved in Buffalo he can get things done... and as much as it pains me to say this... he has looked slightly better the past few weeks before going down with his injury... but a team like Phoenix... who doesn't have too much cash to spend... and has that possibility of making the playoffs... do they make a quiet move to pick up a puck mover? 

How about Carolina after cutting lose Frankie Kaberle?  Kalinin might be an under the radar pick up for teams, who have now shown, that the prize of the day, is the puck moving defender.  Maybe it's good we have a few who could be had.