Now, I am not that big on math. Sure, I've speculated with some numbers before, but if I wanted to become an accountant (and make my parents happy), I would have. But I didn't. So I won't start throwing around numbers to figure out what the Rangers have now, may have on July 1st or will have left come the start of next season.
Sorry (to you too, mom and dad).
Instead, I went through the NHL Numbers' list of free agents and grabbed some names that Glen Sather should go after and some he probably shouldn't. He did alright last summer but I wasn't blogging before July 1st back then (I started on the 5th) so I couldn't help out. Let me preface the list by who I automatically eliminated: any Islander, any Devil, any center and any restricted free agent. The first two are self explanatory so I will just explain the second pair. The Blueshirts have an unexpected bounty of depth signed down the middle in Dubi, Gomez, Drury, Bettsy, Anisimov and more. As for RFAs, simply said, they aren't worth it. They demand big contracts and draft picks going the other way. The recent track record of the scouting staff deserves respect and giving away picks is simply not the way to go, we have a good, young organization and these guys will further help provide support and keep the team playoff-worthy. So, without further ado, let's get started:
Give these guys a tour:
Joe DiPenta, Anaheim - made $700K - DiPenta is a depth defenseman who was lost in the shuffle in Anaheim. He makes smart, simple plays and has a Stanley Cup ring.
Johan Hedberg, Atlanta - made $1.150 mil - Moooooose is a fan favourite goaltender who can start if need be. Being a veteran and Swedish could help with Hank but he should only be looked at if Vally decides not to re-sign.
Teppo Numminen, Buffalo - made $2.6 mil - The Finnish vet came back from heart surgery late last season and might not be able to quit the game. The former Winnipeg Jet has been around forever and for good reason - he knows how to play defense (something lacking from the Blueshirts blueline). His steady presence could only help a young team and he should have little ties to Buffalo as they tried to screw him out of paying his salary while he recovered from the surgery.
Jason Williams, Chicago - made $1.6 mil - Williams is another guy coming off of injury. He seems prone to groin pulls and hernias, but if he is healthy, he certainly can chip in some points (he scored 36 in 43 games last season).
Ron Hainsey, Columbus - made $900K - Hainsey will certainly be looking for a raise after back-to-back 30 point seasons as a defenseman on Columbus but who knows how good he really is? He played in Columbus. He may be worth the money.
Andrew Brunette, Colorado - made $1.6 mil - Should Shanny call it a career, then Brunette would slip into the same role pretty damn well. One of the most underrated players over the last 10 years, he is slow of foot but with some of the fastest hands in the league and should come pretty cheap.
Kurt Sauer, Colorado - made $719K - Sauer will likely command a lot of interest this summer, and for good cause. He is a young, steady blueliner who has been to the Cup final before (with Anaheim when they lost in '03) and has good cause to come to the Rangers - we already have his younger brother, Michael.
Mattias Norstrom, Dallas - made $4.25 mil - On March 14, 1996 Norstrom was traded with Nathan LaFayette, Ian Laperriere, Ray Ferraro and a draft pick to the Los Angeles Kings for Marty McSorley, Jari Kurri and Shane Churla in one of the worse trades in Rangers history. If he is willing to take a pay cut by, say, a mill, then we absolutely have to grab him to solidify the defense.
Todd Fedoruk, Minnesota - made $875K - I know, I know, Colton Orr almost killed this guy. However, in Minnesota he proved he could be more than just a goon. He went to the net hard and was willing to pay the price to set up in the paint on the power play. We really, really need someone like that.
Brian Rolston, Minnesota - made $2.45 mil - See what I wrote about Brunette and add even more production. I really don't think Minnesota will let him go but he would be well worth the attempt.
Mark Streit, Montreal - made $600K - The Swiss defenseman will command a big raise as he can produce from the blueline. The new NHL kinda demands players like that and he will be much cheaper than Brian Campbell.
Mike Commodore, Ottawa - made $1.3 mil - Commodore is big, solid and willing to do anything for the team. He has a Cup and a helluva playoff beard.
Vinny Prospal, Philly - made $1.9 mil - Vaclav is certainly in for a raise but should prove to be worth every penny. He is one of the few power wingers with great hands and really could compliment Gomez.
Jason Smith, Philly - made $1.9 mil - A true warrior, Smith's heart and grit makes up for his lack of speed.
Ryan Malone, Pittsburgh - made $1.45 mil - If you watched our series against the Pens, I don't even have to explain this one. Malone is 6'4, 225, 28 years old and hasn't even hit his prime yet.
Brooks Orpik, Pittsburgh - made $1 mil - There is a lot of informed people out there that say that Orpik is just waiting for the playoffs to end to pull on a Ranger sweater. He is big, he is young and he is tough. He would be a great compliment for Marc Staal.
Mats Sundin, Toronto - made $5.5 mil - If Jagr does leave New York, Sundin should be the team's biggest free agent target. The big Swede never never gives up and stood strong despite playing on the horror show that was the Maple Leafs. He is intense and capable and won gold with Hank.
Matt Cooke, Washington - made $1.5 mil - Washington would be stupid to let Cooke go and we would be stupid not to try to get him, especially if Sather does something stupid like let Sean Avery go.
Don't let these guys in the door:
Kristian Huselius, Calgary - There is a reason Mike Keenan essentially ran him out of town. Huselius can seemingly score at will when he wants but has no heart or dedication and utterly disappeared when the Flames needed him most.
John-Michael Liles, Colorado - Like Hainsey, Liles will garner a lot of attention. Unlike Hainsey, Liles isn't worth it. While the Jacket has persevered despite having little support, Liles has played behind some superstars and has never taken it to the next level. He was also virtually useless during the Aves series against Minnesota when the Wild used their big forwards to go hard at him.
Antti Miettinen/Niklas Hagman, Dallas - The Scandic Stars are both serviceable young forwards but let's face it, we already have better versions of them in the organization.
Andreas Lilja/Brad Stuart, Detroit - Lilja makes huge mistakes and Stuart pretty much failed when he played in the East with the Bruins a few years back. Both will want more money than they are worth.
Rob Blake, LA - Blake is far past his prime and likely won't leave Jack Johnson and sunny SoCal so save the effort.
Ladislav Nagy, LA - One of the biggest wastes of talent in the NHL. Nagy goes on incredible scoring runs before utterly disappearing or getting himself injured. Not worth the aggravation.
Pavol Demitra, Minnesota - Demitra would be a fool to leave Marian Gaborik as his fellow countryman rejuvenated his career. When he played without him, Demitra would get hurt left and right and never made the leap to stardom despite clearly having the skills.
Michael Ryder, Montreal - As far as I know, Hab fans hate Ryder. And as they pretty much know their stuff, I will follow suit. He has been enigmatic as a scorer and a negative player three years running thanks to his inability to see his own side of the ice.
Wade Redden, Ottawa - Redden is great and would provide the Rangers with an actual Number One defenseman. But at what cost? Let's not turn into Tampa Bay and become too top-heavy.
Marian Hossa, Pittsburgh - I don't care what people are saying about Hossa's play this postseason. He will want too much money and the return will not be worth it. Sure he puts up points, but there is more to the game than that and who knows how he would fit in.
Brian Campbell, San Jose - See Redden, except he is softer.
Markus Naslund, Vancouver - Naslund was a helluva player. The key word there is 'was.' As a fantasy player I intently saw him slip further and further away from being the dominant scorer he once was.
And after all of this typing, all of this research, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see Sather re-sign all of the Rangers' free agents (even Malik, if only to make us fans look stupid). July 1st is a long ways away so I guess we will just have to sit back, wait and see.
Man does that suck ...