With today's signing of right wing Ryan Callahan, Rangers GM Glen Sather has finished making his major off-season moves. Sather successfully signed all of the Rangers' restricted free agents to multi-year deals without going to arbitration. He also signed center Brad Richards, the coveted jewel of this offseason's free agent market.
So, having said that, it's time to look back at the month of July and how the moves Sather made impacted the Rangers in both the short and long term.
Sather's first move of the summer was signing Richards to a nine year/$60 million contract on July second. Although it was a no-brainer to go out and at the very least make an offer to the top player on the market, Sather filled a major hole in the Rangers' roster.
Despite finishing last season with 44 wins and 93 points, the Rangers were in the bottom half of the league with 2.73 goals per game. Also, Marian Gaborik didn't have an elite playmaking center on his line last season. The addition of Richards should help Gaborik in 2011-12.
The other part of the Richards deal that Sather should get credit for is the money breakdown of the contract. While there is a cap hit of $6.67 million for each of the nine years, Richards is only due to make one million in each of the last three years of the deal. As a result, if the Rangers want to buy Richards out as he enters his late-30's (like they did with Chris Drury), the cap penalty will be minimal.
As previously mentioned, Sather was also able to re-sign all of the Rangers' restricted free agents without having to go to arbitration.
The last two restricted free agents he signed, Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan, are core pieces for the Rangers success next season—and in the years to come. Since John Tortorella became head coach in February of 2009, he has stressed that the Rangers keep—and build—with their young pieces. Sather's moves have reflected that view.
For a young team that is only going to get better, Sather didn't need to make any drastic changes in the offseason. In adding Richards, the Rangers now have an All-Star center that adds to an already playoff-caliber team.