Grading New York Rangers' Decisions on 1st Day of Free Agency

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IJuly 1, 2014

Grading New York Rangers' Decisions on 1st Day of Free Agency

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    The first day of free agency came and went with great fanfare, and the New York Rangers were talked about a great deal.

    Not only did the New York ink players like Dan Boyle and Tanner Glass, but they lost players such as Anton Stralman, Benoit Pouliot and Brian Boyle.

    Having gone to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013-14, they learned firsthand how hard it is to keep a conference champion team together.

    It has only been one day, but here are grades for the Blueshirts' decisions on Day 1.

Anton Stralman Replaced by Dan Boyle

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    According to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, the Rangers inked Dan Boyle to a two-year, $9 million deal early in the day. 

    They knew they didn't have a chance to re-sign Anton Stralman, who got a five-year, $22.5 million deal from Tampa Bay for a cap hit of $4.5 million per season.

    If you do the math, you will notice that the Rangers signed Boyle for the same average annual value as Stralman, and it sounds weird that they would sign a soon-to-be 38-year-old blueliner instead of the 27-year-old Stralman.

    However, there is no income tax in Florida, so he'll net more money than he would have in New York. The Rangers would have been smart to keep Stralman, but they were strapped against the cap and didn't want to give out any deals with a longer term.

    Boyle is an offensive upgrade over Stralman, and he will help the power play while still managing top-four minutes.

    Although they lose out on a solid defender in the long run, replacing Stralman with Boyle made sense given the price and the options available at the time. By the time the deal is over, there is a good chance that one of the Rangers' top defensive prospects will be ready for full NHL duty.

     

    Grade: B-

Departure of Benoit Pouliot

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    Per Dan Rosen of NHL.com, Benoit Pouliot signed with the Edmonton Oilers for five years and $20 million. The Rangers' decision to not offer him upwards of $3 million for one season makes sense.

    He had a great season, was a solid defensive forward and is a great "fancy stats" player, but $4 million per year for a player as inconsistent as Pouliot is just bad for business.

    The Rangers will miss his presence in the lineup, but they couldn't afford to keep him.

     

    Grade: A

Departure of Brian Boyle

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    In yet another instance of a Ranger leaving for sunny Tampa, Brian Boyle signed with the Lightning for three years and $6 million, according to the Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith.

    This is a situation in which New York could do virtually nothing—Boyle wasn't even going to re-sign with them under his previous role, as tweeted by Andrew Gross of The (Bergen County, N.J.) Record.

    This is clearly a number they could have matched, so it's obvious Boyle didn't want to be in New York. He will go to a deep Lightning team, and it will be interesting to see how he will get an enhanced role compared to what he would have had in New York.

    Ultimately, the Blueshirts' hands were tied.

     

    Grade: B

Re-Signing of Dominic Moore

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    The Hockey News reports that the Rangers re-signed center Dominic Moore to a two-year deal worth $1.5 million a season, and it made sense to keep the veteran around as a key member of the fourth line and a team leader.

    He is a top penalty-killer, a solid faceoff-winner and a character forward that brings grit to the lineup. Losing Moore would have really hurt the Blueshirts' bottom six, and it was mutually beneficial that both sides worked out a deal.

     

    Grade: A

Signing of Tanner Glass

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    In a move that makes little sense for New York, they added left wing Tanner Glass for three years and $4.35 million, according to a tweet from The Hockey News. Glass is a player who won't fit into the Blueshirts' puck-possession system.

    Ostensibly a replacement for Derek Dorsett, most would probably rather have seen New York keep the energetic winger over Glass. Though one could justify trading Dorsett by giving the Rangers draft flexibility, adding Glass seems like a move that John Tortorella would have endorsed.

    At 30 years old, he is a rugged winger that can maybe fit in as a fourth-line player and penalty-killer, but it would have made more sense to give one of the kids a role instead.

    There's a chance a prospect will wow team brass during training camp, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him go the Arron Asham route as a top-line forward...with the Hartford Wolf Pack.

     

    Grade: D 

Depth Signings

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    Forwards

    The only depth-forward signing the Rangers made July 1 was the acquisition of Chris Mueller of the Texas Stars. He won a Calder Cup with the Dallas Stars' AHL affiliate, and he has some offensive upside. He will likely join the Wolf Pack due to the departure of other AHL forwards, so this signing barely impacts the Rangers.

    Grade: C

     

    Defense

    The Rangers signed defenders Mike Kostka and Matt Hunwick to respective one-year deals, effectively replacing unrestricted free agents Raphael Diaz and Justin Falk.

    Both Kostka and Hunwick are relatively young and have some limited upside, and they will be placeholders until a youngster usurps them. Steven Kampfer was signed to an undisclosed two-way contract, and he will provide some AHL depth in Hartford.

    Grade: B-

     

    Goaltenders

    The team announced that goalie Cedrick Desjardins—who went 9-18-4 with a 2.81 goals against average for the Syracuse Crunch, the Lightning's AHL affiliate, last season—signed to play with the Wolf Pack. He will likely be the backup behind Mackenzie Skapski in another move that has few implications for the Rangers' NHL squad.

    Grade: C-

     

    Information via TSN.ca.

Overall Grade

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    Departures

    The Rangers lost a third of their best line last season (Pouliot), their second-best defender from the playoffs (Stralman) and a heart-and-soul center who was great on the draw (Brian Boyle).

     

    Additions

    An offensive defenseman with veteran leadership (Dan Boyle), a rugged winger (Glass) and multiple depth signings.

     

    Needs

    The Rangers still have holes in their depth chart for a No. 1 center, a second-line winger and a fourth-line winger. 

     

    Summary

    The only needs addressed by New York on the first day of NHL free agency were the power play and the second pairing on defense. Depth on defense was addressed, but the Blueshirts still need scoring.

    Replacing Pouliot on the second or third line is still a need, as is replacing the void left by Brad Richards, who signed with the Blackhawks, as reported by Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune.

    General manager Glen Sather better have some tricks up his sleeve, because even if all restricted free agents are retained, this will be a weaker roster than what was iced during the Stanley Cup Final.

     

    Grade for Free-Agency Day 1: C-