So, as per Larry Brooks, and all the beat writers, Ranger winger Markus Naslund is going to retire, having confirmed it to his teammates during breakup day. However, Naslund has yet to confirm this to the media, so it is still an unofficial retirement.
Personally, I won’t believe it until a press conference is called, or Naslund confirms it to the media. I find it very hard to believe that someone who put up 24 goals last season, someone who is guaranteed $3 million next year, is going to hang them up. But that’s just my two cents.
If Naslund does retire, he retires with career totals of 395-474-869 in 15 NHL seasons (1117 games). While that’s not Hall of Fame, that’s a pretty solid career.
In Naslund’s defense, while he may not have been worth the $4 million cap hit (2 years – $8 million, cap hit is yearly average of the deal), he, for the most part, brought exactly what I thought he would, a 20-30 goal season, decent leadership, and a fading ability to keep up with the younger talent. I thought he would help the anemic powerplay, I was wrong there, but you can’t really blame Naslund for that one.
So what does this do for the Rangers? First, and most importantly, this saves them $4 million in cap room. It may not seem like much, but when Sather must resign Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, and Lauri Korpikoski this offseason, and Dan Girardi and Marc Staal next offseason, that $4 million is going to come in handy (especially with the cap headed to an estimated $48-$50 million for the 2010-2011 season). That $4 million can also be used to help resign Blair Betts and Fred Sjostrom this offseason. These are 7 players that the Rangers can ill afford to lose if they want to get younger and faster.
Second, this opens up a winger spot on a top line for the aforementioned Korpikoski, who for a while was toiling on the 4th line. He will finally have a consistent chance to show he is better than the 6-8-14 he put up this season. He will need that chance, and I am happy he finally gets it.
Third, and this part scares me a bit, it opens Sather up to resign both of the Niks. Personally, I would just want Zherdev back, for the RIGHT deal. But with the added flexibility, and Sather’s track record, I wouldn’t really be all that surprised if both of them wind up back in Blue for next season, and a few seasons down the road. (Side note: I think his best option would be to cut both Niks loose and steal Alexander Radulov back from Russia, who has a $1 million cap hit for one season, and puts up the same numbers as the Niks.)
This is all speculative, as these are unconfirmed reports that he will retire.
Also, Ranger backup Steve Valliquette will be back next season. Apparently his deal was for two years, not one. He is a solid backup, and comes at a cheap price. Nothing wrong with this one.
Update 4:00pm I guess me and Stas need to work on our communication skills. We posted on the Naslund retirement at the exact same time. Creepy.