New York Rangers: A Realistic Look at Free Agency

Greg CaggianoSenior Writer IJune 28, 2008

In several of my last free-agency articles, I have been called many things—most not so polite.

I try to be bold in my predictions, and rather then taking them with a grain of salt, people have attacked me for making them. So now, since I no longer want to be bothered with flagging people's distasteful comments, I will write a realistic look at the free agent market for the New York Rangers.

I will suggest that the Rangers bring in three new players—none of which are ancient, and none of which will break the bank. Even though the New York Post and Daily News have alluded to him, Mats Sundin is not on that list.

But before we get to the new faces, let's get to the players that need to be re-signed. First and foremost, captain Jaromir Jagr must be re-signed by the Rangers. He wants to stay in the NHL, and has said that the money he is being offered in Russia will have no effect on his contract negotiations with the Rangers. He wants to come back and Glen Sather wants him back.

But, the Rangers will only sign him for two years or less, and Jagr must know that. The money he will be given is tricky. His last contract was $8 million but he is not worth that now. Perhaps $6.5 to $7 million can be settled upon with non-cap hitting incentives added, since he's played in the league for many years.

(I don't know exactly how many years a player needs to be eligible, but the Rangers got the same deal with Shanahan.)

The next player is the bandwagoner's favorite, Sean Avery. Ranger fans just love him, and he can do no wrong in their eyes. Granted, he's great at taking opponents off their game and can even score big goal—but he is not worth the money he's asking for.

Avery wants between $4 and 5 million and Sather won't budge beyond $3.25 million. I say, let Avery test the market—and if no one signs him for the large sum he wants, he'll have no choice but to sign back here. If he finds a taker, don't let the door hit him in the ass on the way out.

Defenseman Michal Rozsival looks like he is being shown the door by Glen Sather—and if you're a Ranger fan, this is good news. Yes, he has shown offensive talent—but his defense down the stretch was downright awful.

Rosival is asking for $5 million a season, and that is way too much money. For $3 million, I'd gladly take him back, but for an offensive defenseman who can't quarterback a power play, I must say "Bye bye."

If there's a defenseman the Rangers need to re-sign, it's Paul Mara. He's been very underrated during his time here, mainly because he hasn't been given the offensive freedom he was given in Boston and Phoenix. He's a good leader who can fight and score, and the Rangers need him back.

Now, let's get to new faces. As you all know, Brian Rolston is my number-one target. The details of why I want him were explained in my earlier article. Since all of you publicly crucified me for merely bringing up the possibility of signing Mats Sundin, I'll leave him out of this article, because the Rangers really don't need him.

Instead, Sather should focus on two defensemen—John-Michael Liles and Brooks Orpik.

Liles is a very skillful, offensive defenseman who can quarterback the power play. Signing him won't break the Rangers' bank, as he can be picked up for $4 million or under. Another plus is that he's young—only twenty-eight.

The next player should be the Rangers' top priority in securing their blue line. Orpik adds toughness and puts fear into opponents whenever they cross into the offensive zone. He forces players to keep their heads on a swivel, and will even clear the crease in front of Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers desperately need a bone-crunching D-man and Orpik is the answer—for under $5 million.

If there's one player the Rangers should not target, it's Brian Campbell. For whatever reason, people think he's the answer to all the Rangers' problems—and I swear there was even one article that said it was a guaranteed Stanley Cup if we signed him (laughs out loud).

He's good, don't get me wrong—but his defense is questionable. The only defenseman I can compare him to is Michal Rozsival, and you already know my stance on him.