Before I get into the details, let me say it's great to be back from the exciting vacation land known as Pennsylvania. After a one week hiatus that included no computer during free agent frenzy, I'm happy to be sitting here.
First let me start off with some thank-you's and apologies. I have to thank my two fellow Bleacher Creatures who literally kept my cell phone hot with updates on July 1 and 2. As for apologies, let me say sorry to the dude who I called "an idiot" for saying that Jagr wasn't going to return. Obviously you were right and I was wrong.
The second apology goes to a girl who I told that Brian Rolston had more of a chance of going to the Rangers then Devils. I was wrong on that too.
Now to business.
The first Ranger related text I recieved came in the afternoon and it mentioned how we signed Aaron Voros away from Minnesotta. As soon as I read it, I knew Avery was done here and his replacement had arrived. I immediately liked the signing because not only is the kid a good heavy weight fighter, but he can also score goals. He is a good replacement for Sean, he only lacks the agitation.
Then the Rangers signed Patrick Rismiller, the blockbuster of the early afternoon. I'm not even sure if he will see NHL playing time, but he will nonetheless be a solid replacement for the biggest waste of a Rangers' uniform, in Ryan Hollweg.
Next came a trade, one that surprised me somewhat. Glen Sather sent Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman to Columbus for Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritcshe. I was surprised at Tyutin going because of the contract he had just been signed to, but Backman's exit was to no one's surprise as he had been in the Rangers fans' doghouse since his first shift with the team.
The Rangers in that deal not only got the speedy, Czech winger Zherdev, but also cleared up cap space, to sign the veteran winger who would replace Captain Jaromir Jagr.
That replacement was former Canucks' superstar left winger Markus Naslund.
Although his play had been slipping that last two seasons after enjoying three consecutive 40 goal campaigns, he had been on a team with which he wasn't given the best oppurtunities to put up points.
Even on a very meager Canuck offense, he still managed 25 goals, more then any Ranger in 2007/08.He assured the NY Post the day of the trade that he felt rejuvenated at the idea of playing for the Rangers after being captain in Vancouver.
The Rangers' biggest splash of the day was veteran defense man Wade Redden. Although I dislike the signing, I feel it was somewhat necesary because we need a power play quarterback. Hopefully Wade will get the job done and when paired with Rozsival (who will no longer be looking to pass to Jagr everytime he has the puck) will be a very nice combination.
The Rangers the next day re-signed defenseman Paul Mara, something I had been hoping for.
So without Jagr, how is the team suposed to succeed? The answer is simple...Tom Renney.
Although I have bashed the coach in the past, the team Glen Sather has given him is perfect for his style of coaching. No superstars, no one amazing, a offensively sound team with defensive responsibility.
I'm sad to see Jagr leave as are most fans, but it was time to move on. The team no longer has to be the European centered organization that revolves around him. Instead, Renney can just roll his lines without worrying who the opposing coach is matching against him.
Now that free agency is over, here are my line combinations for the upcoming season:
Line 1: Dawes-Gomez-Zherdev
Line 2: Naslund-Drury-Prucha
Line 3: Callahan-Dubinsky-Sjostrom
Line 4: Voros-Betts-Fritsche
Defense 1: Rozsival-Redden
Defense 2: Staal-Mara
Defense 3: Girardi-Kalinin
Scratches: Orr, Hollweg, Rissmiller
Possible Call-Ups: Korpikoski, Anisimov, Sauer, Sanguinetti.
So there you go, my outlook on the future of the New York Rangers. A few weeks ago I boldly predicted that the Rangers would win the Atlantic Division and even with the free agency not going as well as I expected, I like the direction the team is going in, and I am standing firm on that prediction.