The opening of free agency on Thursday is a virtual holiday in Canada but here in New York, Glen Sather has turned it into a day to be dreaded like the arrival of inlaws. There is simply no way of telling what the cigar smoker will do but I figured I would break down the impending UFAs in simple terms - guys I'd want, guys I wouldn't mind and guys I wouldn't want - without too much discussion of salary. In the days coming there will be a similar breakdown of RFAs and possible trade targets.
But we begin with the unrestricted guys; I left out some vets who will either re-sign with their teams or retire as well as many AHLers/nobodies but I think I covered the UFA market pretty well. All of the names were from Capgeek's UFA Finder when I started this a few weeks back (and promptly forgot about it). I added a short explanation beside each player, with a longer reasoning for the guys I would sign as GM. Sorry if it looks a bit jumbled, there is a lot there. It is (obviously) in alphabetical order.
Guys I Want On The Rangers
Steve Begin - Boyle is terrible; Begin would be a great replacement should none of the kids be fit to step into that fourth line spot. He is the kind of guy who would run through a wall for a teammate and is tough all over the ice.
Dan Ellis - Ellis was dealt to Montreal, well, his rights were. Wouldn't riding shotgun for Hank be more preferable to being under the microscope, even behind Jesus Price?
Anders Eriksson - Eriksson proved Leaf fans wrong by showing he is still capable of solid, steady play. He was a fantastic fill-in at the end of the year and would be a good stop-gap should McDonagh decide to head back to school.
Kurtis Foster - He's big, he's pretty tough and that slap shot of his is just so tempting a tool to add to the arsenal and he would be so much cheaper than Sheldon Souray.
Paul Martin - An exception to my No Devil rule, Martin is worth taking because he can eat up minutes, move the puck and play smart hockey. A younger, better version of the Bruce Driver we had ...
Zbynek Michalek - Shot-blocker extraordinaire would be cheaper alternative to Volchenkov. And it would be nice to finally get something worthwhile back from Don Maloney.
Willie Mitchell - If not for his concussion, I truly believe Vancouver would have beaten Chicago. Mitchell is one of the best defensive defensemen in the league and, if his head is ok, would be worth outbidding the Canucks for his services.
Antero Niittymaki - Seeing as the team is ready to crush Chad DosNueve's confidence and bring in a vet instead, the Finn absolutely dominates at times. Even when Finland lost to Hank and Sweden back in '06, Nitty was outstanding. I fully believe that the Finns underachieved in Vancouver because they didn't start him.
Jody Shelley - Grizzled, tough vet is a legitimate enforcer who proved he can play a little. He took steps towards leadership at the end of the season and has been called a great team guy everywhere he has gone.
Anton Volchenkov - Possibly the best shot-blocking defenseman in the league, Volchenkov can hit a little too and would provide some relief to Hank. But only if the cost is not Redden-esque ...
Ray Whitney - The wizard is old but still has the hands that has made him one of the most underrated players of the last decade. Seeing as Grachev isn't likely to be ready for full-time NHL work, Whitney would be the best solution to come in and add instant offense while we wait for the big Russian.
Guys I Wouldn't Mind On The Rangers
Colby Armstrong - Great team guy but not enough offense.
Alex Auld - Did well in short stay, can he handle more?
Eric Belanger - Old-time hockey player - took out his own tooth on the bench! - and is good at faceoffs.
Adam Burish - Already have Sean Avery.
Erik Christensen - Just worked to get a job for next season and then spurned the team when they wanted to give him one. Shmuck.
Mark Eaton - Not flashy but solid when healthy.
Andrew Ebbett - Shown great assist skills with Ducks, disappointed with Wild.
Ruslan Fedotenko - Always tough against us ...
Alexander Frolov - Offensive talent but at what cost?
Sergei Gonchar - Old but so very, very good.
Johan Hedberg - Mooooooose would get lit up from time to time in Atlanta.
Jeff Halpern - Nice Jewish boy but a low-liner.
Shane Hnidy - Gritty defender but slow and no offense.
Zenon Konopka - NHL fight king and a top faceoff guy but I want Shelley more.
Saku Koivu - Cancer survivor sees the ice so well; how much is left in the tank?
Slava Kozlov - Shootout specialist always lights up the Rangers.
Andreas Lilja - When healthy he's solid.
Michael Leighton - Look at what happened in Philly.
Matt Lombardi - Skilled center, but Christy may be cheaper to keep.
Toni Lydman - Quiet Finn loves metal and plays solid D but was hurt last year.
Manny Malhotra - Former top pick turned dependable third liner - would replace Drury well, haha.
Jay McKee - Former shot-blocker extraordinaire might still have some skill.
Glen Metropolit - Hard worker but a low-liner.
Dominic Moore - Eh, forget aboot it.
Owen Nolan - Oldie but goodie; tough as nails.
Sean O'Donnell - Oldie but goodie; tough as nails.
Jed Ortmeyer - Jed!
P.A. Parenteau - Loved the shootouts, underwhelmed by regulation play.
Corey Potter - The Rangers invested so much time in him already, why not give him a real shot?
Ruslan Salei - Belarussian stalwart is getting old.
Henrik Tallinder - Swedish Olympian not flashy but solid and friend of Hank.
Shawn Thornton - Love the toughness but hope to have Prust and Shelley.
Stephane Veilleux - Great penalty killing fourth liner, but no room for him.
Mike Weaver - Quiet but good, smart defenseman.
Guys I Don't Want On The Rangers
Max Afinigenov - Enigmatic Russian.
Evgeny Artyukhin - Oversized, undertalented.
Arron Asham - Dirtbag.
Adrian Aucoin - Former Islander.
Marc-Andre Bergeron - One-dimensional.
Martin Biron - Best days behind him.
Nick Boynton - Slow.
Kyle Calder - Moments few and far between.
Carlo Colaiacovo - Ask a Leafs fan.
Mike Comrie - Hilary Duff.
Craig Conroy - Old.
Joe Corvo - "Oh No!" Corvo.
Matt Cullen - Been there, done that.
Pavol Demitra - Old and injury prone, even if he was buds with Gaborik in Minnie.
Matt Ellis - Depth guy with no upside.
Ray Emery - Goon goalie.
Garnet Exelby - Headhunter.
Dan Hamhuis - Overrated.
Matt Hendricks - Meh.
Chris Higgins - At least he tried.
Andy Hilbert - Islander.
Hugh Jessiman - Ugh.
Aaron Johnson - Mediocre.
Kim Johnsson - Old.
Olli Jokinen - Flyers Stanley Cup Finalists.
Randy Jones - Not the same since the hit.
Milan Jurcina - Really? No.
Paul Kariya - Old.
Ilya Kovalchuk - No defense, lotsa money.
Lukas Krajicek - No vision.
Pavel Kubina - Overrated.
Patrick Lalime - Ask a Sabre fan.
Robert Lang - Old.
Brett Lebda - Spotty.
Manny Legace - Watch out for those carpets.
Jere Lehtinen - Old and injury-prone.
Jordan Leopold - Clueless.
Jamie Lundmark - Sorry.
John Madden - Old Devil.
Adam Mair - Thug.
Paul Mara - Miss the beard, not the player.
Chris Mason - Love the beard, don't need a starter.
Jamal Mayers - Good team guy, but little else.
Freddy Meyer - Islander.
Brian McGrattan - Goon.
Freddie Modin - Inconsistent.
Derek Morris - Overrated and overpaid.
Brendan Morison - This isn't Vancouver '03.
Shaone Morrisonn - Meh.
Mike Mottau - Devil.
Evgeni Nabokov - Choke job.
Eric Nystrom - Hate his dad.
Richard Park - Islander.
Matt Pettinger - Have enough third-line guys.
Fernando Pisani - Our players have asthma, not colitis.
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Look at what he didn't do with Crosby.
Brian Pothier - Never the same since Lucic hit.
Andrew Raycroft - Ask a Leafs fan.
Miro Satan - Belongs in Jersey.
Matt Schneider - Too old for a second tour.
Christoph Schubert - Former Olympian was on waiver wire.
Jon Sim - Islander.
Martin Skoula - Other options for veteran 7th D.
Lee Stempniak - Phoenix aside, not particularly good.
Jason Strudwick - As a coach maybe.
Andy Sutton - Not an expert.
Marek Svatos - Enigmatic.
Petr Sykora - Couldn't keep a job in offense-starved Minnesota.
Alex Tanguay - Declined last three seasons.
Jose Theodore - Three-Or-More.
Raffi Torres - Did nothing for Buffalo.
Vesa Toskala - Ask a Leafs fan.
Marty Turco - Not a backup; hates Avery.
Mike Van Ryn - Injury-prone.
Scott Walker - Lost a step.
Aaron Ward - Scum.
Kyle Wellwood - Tubby Too-Slow.
Jason Williams - Injury-prone.
Brad Winchester - Already have Prust.
Stephane Yelle - Old.