This July 5th, was perhaps the most stupid free agency opening in living memory. When a player scratched in the Cup Final (Victor Stalberg) can turn his level of ‘performance’ into a four year deal you have to wonder. When Andrew journeyman Ference can – at 34 no less – turn his bottom pair duties for Boston into four years 12+ million you continue to wonder.
When Ryane Clowe – for all his obvious talent – can turn an injury, concussion plagued season and 3 goal production into a five year deal with a significant pay rise you know the last of the sane general managers have lost their marbles.
There were countless deals this Friday that left heads scratching, that made a mockery of the lockout (once again) and left teams who managed somehow to exercise caution in a good position. Maybe it was just that the Rangers couldn’t spend this summer what others could but the Rangers figure to benefit from all this madness.
Next year it’s entirely possible the likes of Thomas Vanek, Marian Gaborik (remember him), the Sedin twins (don’t discount it), Patrick Marleau, Phil Kessel, Paul Statsny, Jason Pominville, Dustin Brown, Matt Read and Joe Pavelski may enter free agency. Just a brief glimpse ahead suggests the talent level promises to be much better than this summer.
Many of the clubs that are traditionally free agent players have shot their load this summer. Surely without significant moves and asset sacrifice, these clubs cannot be in for the big names next season. The Penguins and their own invisible cap appear hamstrung, the Flyers can only buy so many players out and the Red Wings and Leafs have placed their stock in middle tier, over paid players such as Weiss and Clarkson. Sometimes patience is key. For once was it the Rangers that showed it?
Continue to scan this year’s deals and you’ll find so many bad contracts handed out in a desperate attempt to get an edge. Is Rob Scuderi really worth a 4 year, 16 million deal? Is Nathan Horton worth the maximum length deal allowed? Did a marginal NHL forward such as Nystrom really get 10m from the Predators? How does Clark MacArthur get 6.5m after last year’s performance? The league has gone mad.
Many Rangers fans find it hard to like Glen Sather. Even more find it hard to trust him when free agency comes around each summer but credit has to go to Sather as free agency enters the weekend. In a phase where the Rangers have begun to enter the ‘win now mode’ there appears to be at least one eye on the bigger picture.
The Rangers still have a young team, have prospects on the horizon and look set to make sure they can supplement the core next summer too. Successful franchises, or at least those that are successful long term, don’t bet the house on black. For once it appears the Rangers have gambled wisely.