There has been a whole lot of news recently, and Chris was kind enough to be unavailable to write the Musings this week. That means I get to do a brain dump on the offseason so far, which is super.
Starting with the coaching, I am still surprised that the Rangers fired John Tortorella. I don’t believe they intended to do this initially, but something clearly changed on the Memorial Day exit interviews. Everyone points to the comments made by Henrik Lundqvist and/or a player revolt, but I don’t buy it. This is an organization that has never allowed a player to have that much control, and a GM that has been faced with trading the best player in the game. I think there was something else, perhaps a disagreement about direction of the team/coaching staff.
Dan Bylsma re-upped in Pittsburgh, so my personal favorite to take the reins is no longer available. Dallas Eakins went to Edmonton, which means the Rangers are down to internal choices, Alain Vigneault, or Lindy Ruff. I’m a big fan of Vigneault, who will get the best out of this current team. Ruff is just the wrong guy for the moment, since he is a Torts-type when it comes to personality, and the firing of a coach means you need a different voice.
Either way, expect Mike Sullivan to be let go when a new coach is hired.
We’ve spent some time discussing potential UFA signings (here, here, here, and here), but the market it very thin this year. When Bryan Bickell is garnering this much attention, you know that the market is thin. Looking at the needs/surplusses, there’s a surplus of bottom-six guys, so you might see the Rangers try to address scoring by dealing from bottom-six. It won’t be on the Rick Nash scale, but you could see a guy like Taylor Pyatt packaged with a prospect to get a top-six scorer. That said, the injuries to Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin will throw a wrench into the plans. Those are two key cogs for the Rangers.
The Rangers will also have some decisions to make regarding their own RFAs, of which they have five. I don’t think they will qualify Michael Sauer at $1.25 million, and sadly I think his career is over. The other four (Mats Zuccarello, Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh) will receive their qualifying offers, but they won’t be accepted. It’s a step in the process that guarantees RFA compensation should they sign an offer sheet.
Even though this is all fun to talk about, there won’t be any significant moves made –including trades, RFA signings, UFA signings (of those guys on the Rangers that are UFAs)– until a new coach is hired. The coach will have a say in personnel matters –as all coaches do– and his style of coaching and who he wants on the team will play a big part in who we see in blue next season.
Interestingly enough, the Rangers are not in salary cap hell despite what everyone else is saying. Yes, they have some important guys to sign, but they have $14 million in cap room to do it. That number becomes $20 million if Brad Richards is indeed bought out. That’s a lot of wiggle room.
- Take your pick from Winnipeg: Andrew Ladd or Blake Wheeler?
- Take your pick from Edmonton: Sam Gagner or Jordan Eberle?
- If you had to trade one, would it be Taylor Pyatt or Brian Boyle?
- Are you comfortable with the Rangers opening next season with Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Michael Del Zotto, Anton Stralman, and John Moore as their top-six, with Steve Eminger as their seventh?
- How do you want management to address injury depth? Boston had Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski, the Rangers had Roman Hamrlik and Matt Gilroy.
- Do you hate these Nik Backstrom GEICO commercials as much as I do?