We all know the big names out there - Gaborik, the Sedins, Bouwmeester, etc. - but there are some others that are coming out of contract that could certainly help the Rangers. The hitch? The players have ties to their markets and might not be so willing to bounce to Broadway. Glancing at the list, I saw four guys I think that the Rangers should look at:
1- Steve Sullivan, Nashville: Let's get this right out of the way, no matter how well he says he is, Sullivan is an injury risk. He missed basically two seasons of hockey due to back problems and is beholden to Nashville for their patience in letting him take his time to make a comeback. He is also 34 and undersized at 5'9. However, he is a gritty hard worker who puts points on the board. He can score timely goals and kill penalties while setting a good example for teammates - basically a better version of the Chris Drury we had last season and he was only paid $3.2m. At his age and with his history, he should be willing to take a big pay cut while getting an incentive-laden deal.
2- Johnny Oduya, NJ: Sure the Rangers are deepest at defense, but you can't pass up the opportunity when a well-rounded player like him becomes available. Just 27 years old, the Swede is solid in all situations being smart in his own zone and a smooth puck mover. He made just $600k and even with a deserved raise should still be a bargain. And just think about how great it would be to take such a valuable asset away from the Devils! Poor Lou, it would be sweet justice for letting us take Gomez away (more on him later).
3- Chad LaRose, Carolina: A rough and tumble power winger who is unafraid to shoot or go to the tough areas to make plays, LaRose can't fight but shows a never-say-die attitude out on the ice. He is entering his prime at 27 and made $875k last year. He had just 31 points in 81 regular season games but stepped up his level of play in the postseason and collected 11 in 18. Canes fans call this guy the Chuck Norris of hockey and let's face it, that's pretty damn awesome.
4- Mikael Samuelsson, Detroit: This offseason will see just how greedy the former Ranger is. Because of the cap situation in Detroit, Samuelsson could very well be left on the outside looking in if he is hoping to double his $1.2m salary. But it is Detroit and most folks would be foolish to leave the best franchise in North American professional sports. At 32, the winger may have reached his peak as a secondary scorer but he is quite capable on the power play, something no Ranger was last season.
And while I am just throwing stuff out there, how is this for a trade proposal: Rangers trade Scott Gomez and one of their second round draft picks to either Colorado or Atlanta for their first round pick (third or fourth overall). Since Joe Sakic may just retire, his $6 mil will come off the Aves' books so they would be able to handle Gomez's contract and he could slide in behind Paul Stastny as the second line center he has always been with speedy wingers like Svatos or Wolski to work with. Bleacher Report had a post pitching Drury to be dealt back to Denver in a blockbuster with Bobby Sanguinetti for the pick and Milan Hejduk but I can't see Dru fitting in under the new regime, Bobby being traded or Hejduk willing to come to NY. In Atlanta Gomez would give Kovalchuk the puck distributor he has been missing since Savvy went to Boston.
As for the Rangers, they would get the game-breaking talent player they need so badly. If its the three spot, then stud center Matt Duchene would be the pick. Duchene has played with Future Blue Bobby and Evgeny Grachev and THN calls him "one of the best two-way prospects outside the NHL." If a deal with Atlanta goes through, the Rangers could grab Luke Schenn's brother Brayden, who can score and has his sibling's toughness. THN said scouts liken him to Mike Richards, and you all remember just how good Mike Richards is.