It has certainly been a busy off-season to say the least for our New York Rangers. The team that finished off last season by blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Capitals in D.C has pretty much been relegated to a somewhat distant memory, and for that I am grateful.
A team that roared out to what seemed at the time an insurmountable lead against one of the best teams in the NHL eventually showed their true colors and choked horribly to be defeated and sent home. And no matter the opinions out there, none of it was to be blamed on the guy in the picture above.
But anyways, In what turned out to be the biggest move No. 1a in my mind was somehow unloading Scott Gomez, his horrible game, and his incredibly ridiculous, over-inflated joke of a contract to the somehow retarded....(thank God)...Bob Gainey and the Montreal Canadiens. Which in turn lead to the biggest move No. 1 in getting Marion Gaborik. It's true, for Glen Sather and all his mind boggling free agent signings: Gomez, Drury, Holik, Kasperaitus, Redden.....etc, he truly is a genius at making trades.
Letting Nikolai Zherdev go was a brilliant move in my mind, but not the fact we had to sacrifice Fedor Tyutin in the process. Had we signed him to the $3.9 million he was awarded in arbitration, it would have chewed up almost 50 percent of our available cap space for this year. We almost certainly would have eventually seen him benched by Torts for either not skating and hustling or being entrenched in a multi-game goal scoring drought or both. I know the argument that he was incredibly talented and young and worth the risk to keep him on the team, but you know what? I've heard that before about a young, talented Russian or Ukrainian kid.....see: Alex Kovalev and I'm done with it. In this age of salary caps you can't waste money anymore.
So let's see who we did get......Christopher Higgins, A solid north/south player who will get his nose dirty in the corners and will guarantee a 20+ goal season who comes with intangibles. I'll take a kid like that anytime.
We also got Ales Kotalik, a shifty, skilled European who will also guarantee a 20+ goal season who will immediately upgrade our power play with his rocket of a blast from the point. After last years PP, I'll take him too.
Another good pickup was Vinny Prospal, a solid veteren presence who can center the top line and also contribute on the offense. And for only a one-year contract, he's worth the risk.
And finally, Marion Gaborik............nuff said!!!!
Now these newcomers will join the remainder of what was already here.
First, Ryan Callahan. They claimed he had his breakout year already but I disagree, watch out for him this year! I feel he will have an offensive explosion, maybe crack the 30 gaol mark.
Second, Sean Avery. Depending on what line he plays on, I feel he can have a very productive year offensively, and look for him to take more of a leadership role as well.
Now I really feel what will truly determine if the Blueshirts have a good year or not will be the play of the rookies. You know at least one or both of Artem Anisimov and Evgeny Grachev will make this team. If they can provide some offense from the third line as well as be responsible in their own end, that will go a long way into the success of the team.
As for the defense, You know the Stall/Girardi unit will be a year older and better. Is there anybody out there not confident of that? My concern is the overpriced veteran unit of Redden/Roszival. They absolutely have to play better than last year, especially Redden. Having three goals and being a minus player will not cut it this year for the $6,500,000 man! And again, the rookies, be it Matt Gilroy or Bobby Sanguinetee, or Potter or Sauer, or whoever it might be, will need to show not spectacular play, but steady play.
And of course you know what to expect from King Henrik in goal...not worried about that. Even with the loss of Blair Betts and Freddy Sjostrem, because of Hank we should have a respectible PK. Bottom line boys, it all has to come together on the ice but I feel we have the right mix...(hopefully)...with our leadership in Drury and the man driving the bus, John Tortarella to expect a winning season.
Not a Stanley Cup contending season, but a competetive, solid, past the first round, score more goals than last year, we just might surprise some people season!!!!
I don't know but we'll see..........................What do you guys think?