Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

As I continue to mourn the season lost and begin to look forward to our next quest for the Cup, let's take a look at the free agents. Much has already been spoken/written of as to which of the guys the Rangers should re-sign. The Ranger Pundit did a great job of breaking down what fans think and what he thinks will happen.

So I won't tread over well-worn ground. Instead, I will try to take a spin in the impending free agents' skates and look at the pros and cons of keeping a New York address:

Sean Avery, UFA: New York loves him and he loves New York. But he won't stand for being disrespected by someone who dresses as poorly (to him) as Glen Sather. Low ball him, call him names and he is gone to become one of the worst enemies the Rangers have had since Denis Potvin.

Ivan Baranka, RFA: Baranka appears to be halfway out the door, having just signed with Spartak. The details aren't out yet, but as someone on HFBoards pointed out, he may have the typical clause in the deal that would allow him to skip out on the deal if he makes the Rangers through training camp. He is smart because its put-up-or-shut-up time for the Blueshirts - he didn't leave his family and come over from Russia to play in Hartford.

Nigel Dawes, RFA: Tom Renney is like a dad, of course Dawes would sign. Renney placed his faith in him, taught him some hard lessons and gave him a chance to play in the NHL. Why leave?

Andrew Hutchinson, UFA: Well, the Rangers are pretty much screwed because Hutch wants a raise, and not just to the NHL. Two million dollar one-way deal or he walks, at the least. Averaging a point per game while leading a young Hartford team to the playoffs as a puck-moving defenseman and everyone wants puck-moving defensemen who can rack up points. And he has seen what it takes to win the Cup too so that experience has to count for something. If the Rangers don't want to pay, someone will ...

Jaromir Jagr, UFA: Of course, Jagr is the hardest to pin down. His thought process is as enigmatic as his passion was on the ice during the regular season. He really has nothing left to prove in the NHL - well, except for the ability to win without Mario, but in the end people just see the rings on his fingers, not the teammates he once had. Jagr can stay to do what he set out to do (bring Stanley to Broadway) and will have to suffer the indignity of taking a pay cut, or go back to Siberia where the money is tax free and there is zero pressure. No boo birds jumping on him. No Hal Gill jumping on him. Just peace in the east ...

Darius Kasparaitis, UFA: Kasper wants to be re-signed by the Rangers. Why wouldn't he? They paid him not to play. They paid him to go away. Fill the bank account and still get a small shot at returning to the NHL? He's not stupid ...

Marek Malik, UFA: Despite what many fans say, Malik isn't dumb either. He will go, grudgingly. He liked playing with Jagr and seemed to like having his kids in Westchester but playing beneath a rain cloud of boos just isn't fun.

Paul Mara, UFA: Hey man, whatever. Mara liked Boston, but he liked New York too. Whoever will give him the money he feels he deserves can have him. If its here, if its there, wherever ... there are few teams as All American as the Rangers and Mara is an American guy but maybe he could get more minutes somewhere else and everyone wants more icetime ...

Greg Moore, RFA: The Rangers have opened the door for him to the NHL a few times but it doesn't look like there is an assured future on Broadway. If one door opened, there will be others and six games in the big league just aren't enough.

Pierre Parenteau, RFA: P.A. had a good offensive season and yet the phone never rang when injuries hit the big boys. Is that a sign? The Ducks wanted him, the Hawks wanted him, then the Rangers wanted him. At this point, whoever will give him the best chance to skate in the NHL should be good for him.

Michal Rozsival, UFA: Rozy looked absolutely awful against the Penguins so the Rangers won't necessarily be willing to offer him the money he wants - at least initially. If Jagr is gone and they won't pay, why stay?

Brendan Shanahan, UFA: Much like with Avery, Shanny loves NY and NY loves Shanny but is there enough left in the tank to give it another go? The wear and tear will be lessened with fourth line and power play time, but 82 games is 82 games and you can't forget the trip to Europe to start the season ... as with Jagr, what is there left to prove?

Fredrik Sjostrom, RFA: A chance to play more with Henke?? Where can Freddie sign?

Martin Straka, UFA: The broken finger hurt but the lack of production hurt more. If Jagr stays, sure, why not, New York has been good to Straka. But if Jagr goes, it may be nice play less games in the Czech league while bringing the kids back home.

Jason Strudwick, UFA: Struds is a good soldier and getting on in years. There likely won't be many NHL suitors so if the Rangers want him back - even in the same limited role - so be it as long as they keep him on track for that coaching position.

Stephen Valiquette, UFA: Hmmm, there are basically 60 goaltending jobs in the NHL and one of the premier franchises wants to give him one of their two? Hell yes. There is little chance to get more playing time elsewhere, and playing behind Hank has been a pleasure.

But, all that being said, I am not a psychic and - let's face it - the team hasn't given fans that good of a look at the personalities of the players outside of what's on the ice - aside from the occasional "concert." So this may be all for naught but we will see, July 1st is just 48 days away!

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