I can almost feel it in my bones, the feeling that GM Glen Sather is going to pull something big in this year's off-season. Will it be a major signing? Or a major trade? We have yet to learn the slightest hint but something is obviously going to happen in the early days of July.
Under Tom Renney, the Rangers were built to be a defensive minded team, one with no stars and just a bunch of "worker bees". That mindset worked for about a month and after that it all fell apart as it was clear that the Jagr-less New York Rangers were going nowhere, even with the stellar goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist. This blunder by Sather ended up costing Renney his job and a newer, firebrand coach in John Tortorella was hired to replace him. Having virtually the same team, with only the additions of Nik Antropov, Derek Morris, and Sean Avery, Tortorella was able to somehow get this team to the playoffs where they would lose in the first round. The defense and goaltending were phenomenal but what was clearly missing was that one go-to guy; that superstar who could put the team on his back. That will be the Rangers' main objective in the coming months, but it won't be easy, especially when looking at their salary cap situation.
I'm going to keep this article light when it comes to salary figures, and I will get to it at a later date, but the overall pulse of the fan base is that Sather will make a push towards either Marian Gaborik or Marian Hossa, both of which will command big money this July. The Rangers do not have the cap space to just go out and sign one of them although Naslund's retirement helps out considerably.
The Rangers must trade one of the big four contracts that are slowly but surely strangling this team. Scott Gomez and Michal Rozsival would be the easiest to trade since Gomez still has value and Rozsival's contract isn't as egregious as Redden's. Chris Drury's name has also been thrown around in deals involving San Jose Sharks' superstar Joe Thornton, but I don't think the Blueshirts will part with their captain so easily.
So let's just assume the Rangers part with Rozsival and the cap space opens up to sign one of them; should Sather jump at the opportunity? The answer is both yes and no. This team needs a superstar scorer more then anything else but can Marian Hossa carry the load? He has never been under pressure in his career as intense as that would be and when he has he has failed to come through. That brings on the dilemma that Gaborik would be the better choice since he can virtually score 40 goals by himself with no help, when he's healthy; and that's the catch. If the Rangers do make a push for Gaborik it must be for a short term deal, preferably one year but I can live with two.
But my suggestion would be the following: Chris Drury's ex-linemate, Alex Tanguay, is a free agent this off-season and the two had considerable chemistry and success when playing in Colorado. He isn't of superstar caliber but he can put up 60 or more points and won't cost nearly as much money. So if I'm Glen Sather, I sign Tanguay to a one year deal to tie the team over until Ilya Kovalchuk hits the market in 2010. Then I throw the checkbook at him and land this team it's first real superstar since Jaromir Jagr.
This article was featured on my blog Metro-Area Sports.