Tough Decisions New York Rangers' GM Glen Sather Must Make Before Olympic Break

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IJanuary 25, 2014

Tough Decisions New York Rangers' GM Glen Sather Must Make Before Olympic Break

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    Vigneault will be interested in what Sather does.
    Vigneault will be interested in what Sather does.Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    General manager Glen Sather made his first major in-season trade on Wednesday when he dealt Michael Del Zotto for Kevin Klein, but the veteran executive still needs to make decisions involving Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi and countless others.

    These decisions need to be made, because after the Olympic break, there are only a few weeks until the trade deadline, and the Blueshirts need to determine how they want to build for the future.

    There are a number of ways the team could go during the summer, and here are the decisions Sather needs to make in order of importance.

4. Will Brad Richards Be on the Team Next Year?

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    Richards is having a bounce back year, but he has a terrible contract.
    Richards is having a bounce back year, but he has a terrible contract.Elsa/Getty Images

    Sather needs to decide whether or not Brad Richards will be on the team next year, because each decision will have an equal and opposite reaction. If Sather decides that the team's current leading scorer will be bought out, he will need to find a way to secure a No. 1 pivot.

    Derek Stepan has regressed slightly this season, and leaving him as the team's top center wouldn't be the right thing to do. Therefore, Sather would have to look into the possibility of trading for or signing someone such as Paul Stastny from the Colorado Avalanche.

    On Friday afternoon, Joe Thornton came off the free agent market after it was announced on Twitter that he signed an extension with the San Jose Sharks, so there are now fewer options for Sather.

    Conversely, if Richards is staying, Sather will need to look into the long-term effects it could have on the Rangers' salary cap. If Broadway Brad does not play out the length of his contract, the Rangers will be saddled with a severe cap penalty, so Sather needs to weigh his options.

3. Anton Stralman

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    Stralman could be a solid trade asset.
    Stralman could be a solid trade asset.Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Larry Brooks of the New York Post recently stated that negotiations for free agent-to-be Anton Stralman will likely start at the $3.3 million mark. That figure is practically double of Stralman's current rate of pay, so Sather will need to weigh his options.

    Amongst defenders, Stralman is not at the top of Sather's list, but he should be. Although he originally was an offensive defenseman, Stralman has quietly developed into one of the Blueshirts' better shutdown defenders since he was signed to a tryout back in 2011.

    Stralman currently logs 19 minutes and 32 seconds a game on average, and it will be hard to replace those minutes if he is not re-signed. For that reason, Sather needs to decide if he should keep his top-four defender, or sell high while his value is at an all-time high.

    The decision to keep or trade Stralman will be made soon, as it likely hinges on whether or not another right-handed blueliner is kept through this season.

2. Is Dan Girardi More Valuable to the Rangers as a Player or an Asset?

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    What is Girardi's value?
    What is Girardi's value?Scott Audette/Getty Images

    Girardi could earn a massive contract during free agency, because he is an All-Star shutdown defender. With a ton of cap space, Sather has no excuse to be frugal, but what would he end up paying his top-pairing defender?

    You would have to think that he could earn at least $6 million, but is that a number the Rangers can swallow? The acquisition of Klein suggests that the Rangers want some insurance in the event they don't re-sign Girardi, but is there a chance that he is traded?

    That is the quandary Sather finds himself in the midst of. What would be more valuable to the Rangers; what Girardi could bring in a potential trade, or his presence on the blue line logging 20-plus minutes a night?

    It will be interesting to see what happens, because the decision could go either way.

1. What Happens to Ryan Callahan

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    Callahan is an interesting case.
    Callahan is an interesting case.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Does he stay, or does he go? It is a simple question, but it could be a tough decision for the Blueshirts GM. Callahan has been a loyal servant and hard worker throughout his career, but he is starting to fall apart at the seams.

    He isn't as effective as he used to be, and he isn't a great fit for this team and its current style. If he was signed to a reasonable contract, not one in excess of $5 million, it would make sense for the Rangers.

    However, he will likely get a near-max offer during free agency, because there are a number of teams that could utilize him in a secondary role. With that in mind, Sather needs to see what type of contract is looking for, and whether or not it would be prudent to trade him for a favorable return.