With Sundays loss to the Penquins in OT, the Rangers have been eliminated from the playoffs. The Rangers GM, Glenn Sather has a lot of decisions and moves to make this summer. Jaromir Jagr's contract is up, along with Martin Straka, Brendan Shanahan, Sean Avery, Paul Mara, Marek Malik, Michal Rozsival, Jason Strudwick, and Stephen Valliquette.
There have been whispers of Jagr leaving the NHL all together to play in Europe. It is probable that Brendan Shanahan, who looked worn down and tired throughout the playoffs will retire. The Rangers also have to consider if they should re-sign fan favorite Sean Avery and if so for how much? They also have to weigh how effective their young talent will be next season. Will hot prospect Alexei Cherepanov make the trip from the Russian Super League to the NHL? and will Bobby Sanguinetti be ready to play in New York next season? Will Brandon Dubinsky and Nigel Dawes continue to improve and make an impact?
A lot of Sather's decisions are going to hinge on whether or not Jagr can be re-signed. Here are two scenarios of what could happen if he does and does not sign;
If Jagr re-signs
Straka Dubinsky Jagr
Avery Gomez Alexei Cherapanov/Ryan Malone
Dawes Drury Ryder
Orr/Sjostrom Betts Callahan
Girardi John-Michael Liles
Backman Mike Commodore
If Jaromir Jagr comes back for a reasonable price ($4 million a year with some incentives), then Straka should be re-signed. Sean Avery needs to be re-signed regardless, even though he needs the Rangers more than they need him. It's hopeful that Alexei Cherapanov will be ready next year and he'll be able to come to NY but if that doesn't seem likely Ryan Malone would be a nice fit. He's a big power forward with some nice stick skills and the ability to score. He'd be great in front of the net on the PP. Michael Ryder is only 27 and has the ability to be a 30 goal scorer. He could also come cheaply and would add some speed and experience to the third line.
On the blue line Paul Mara, Marek Malik, and Michal Rozsival most likely will be let go. Mara and particularly Rozsival will be too expensive to re-sign. The defense has two needs, a power play quarterback and a big tough defensemen. John Michael Liles would help out the power play, he didn't have a great season this year but hes only 26 and shouldn't command more than $2.5 million a year. He's due to bounce back and would be an effective solution until Bobby Sanguinetti is fully ready.
Mike Commodore fits the bill as the big tough defense men, he's big (6'5) and unlike Mara and Malik, he uses his body and is tough in front of the net. He also is willing to drop the gloves when need be. He's only 27 and could be signed for under $2.5 million, he made around $1.5 this year.
If Jagr DOESN'T re-sign
Dawes Gomez Marian Hossa
Avery Dubinsky Kristien Huselius
Callahan Drury Michael Ryder/Cherepanov
Orr/Korpikoski Betts Prucha/Sjostrom
Girardi Bryan Berard/Sanguinetti
Backman Mike Commodore
The Rangers need Jagr to re-sign, but if he doesn't, the Rangers should go after Marian Hossa. His speed would complement Gomez nicely, put Nigel Dawes on that line and there's one of the fastest lines in the NHL. However, if Hossa is signed, he'll probably be overpaid.
Kristien Huselius could be signed to play on the second line, he's scored 30 goals before and last year he had 65 points playing with what is collectively a less offensively talented team aside from Iginlia, Tanguay, Langkow. He could probably come for less than $3 million too.
If Cherepanov doesn't come to NY, Ryder could still be signed to play on the third line. A cheap but risky alternative to going after Wade Redden or Brian Campbell would be to sign Bryan Berard. He made a successful comeback this season with the Islanders and would be a cheap solution for a power play quarterback. Mike Commodore should still be signed, the Rangers haven't had a big defense man who actually played like a big guy since Jeff Buekaboom. On the fourth line guys like Petr Prucha and Lauri Korpikoski will be involved, maybe a guy like Gregg Moore as well.
The possibilities for the Rangers this summer are endless. It should prove to be the most critical off-season for Glenn Sather as the Rangers GM.