Rangers' Offseason Good So Far, but They Still Have Holes to Fill

Robert GuessContributor IJuly 3, 2008

Marching into the free agency period this year the New York Rangers had plenty of work to do. Without Straka, Jagr, Avery, or Shanahan signed the Rangers only had centers for their first two lines.

Now, any Rangers fan understands that they had a lack of defense in front of Lundqvist last season, making the signing of a defenseman like Wade Redden imperative. Since they addressed their defensive needs for an all-star blueliner they had to change gears and begin to look for forwards.

On the second day of free agency the Rangers traded Fedor Tyutin (who is just awful) and Christian Backman who had played 18 games too many with the Rangers. These two "defensemen" were traded for Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche. A thumbs up exchange for New York on this one.

Zherdev, a first round draft pick, notched 61 points last season (25 G, 31 A). The 23-year-old right wing may not have the numbers of a superstar, but then he has never had the luxury of playing by the side of one of the game's very best skaters and passers in Scott Gomez.

Yesterday the Rangers made an important move in signing Naslund. Whether or not his move is positive is yet to be determined. Naslund's points per season have declined since 2003. The root of the problem could be that the entire Vancouver team didn't know how to turn the red light on.

Regardless, Naslund was an important piece to the puzzle. We just have to wait and see if the piece fits.

There are still some holes in the Rangers' first two lines and fans are worried that they may not be able to fill them. There are a few options out there. Any Rangers fan would love to see Alexi Cherepanov in the NHL next season. I have read multiple articles on this subject. It looks like a 50-50 shot.

Cherepanov will not be held in Russia due to contractual obligations, but he can remain there by choice. He said, "When I'm ready, I'll be there." Generally, when one reads his interview you can't help but think he will be a blueshirt for the 2008-2009 season.


There are also many prospects who may be able to earn a spot on the squad next season including Artem Anisimov, a highly regarded Rangers prospect.

The Rangers' offseason was not full of good choices though. I like Rozsival, but not for $5 million a season for four years. He better step his game up from just a season ago if he wants to earn that money and prove that he isn't grotesquely overpaid.

All in all the Rangers are off to a good start this free agency with the exception of Michael Rozsival's contract.