While we are waiting for NHLPA to give their counter and await the rebuttal from the NHL and most likely a late start to the season, a question needing answered is why aren't these top level RFA's signed? The obvious answer is that the teams are awaiting to see what the payroll will be when the new CBA is reached. The Rangers have a top two pairing defenseman in Michael Del Zotto, still hanging out there able to poaching from other teams to an offer sheet. Other RFA's out there are Evander Kane, Ryan O'Reilly, P.K.Subban, Tyler Ennis, and John Carlson at the top of the list. There are 2 left wingers, 1 center, and 3 dmen.
Let's just look at these players and see where the best fits are for the Rangers. Of course, some of these players are more established as a star of their team like Evander Kane compared to a 3rd line center in Ryan O'Reilly. Looking at what teams are needing and a player can't stay on the same team because if they were close to signing with their team they would have done it already, so here we go. For the Rangers, seeing reports that Michael Sauer will be healthy for the start of the season, the Rangers main need is for a third line center. Out of the options above, the Rangers best answer would be Ryan O'Reilly as he would fit the role perfectly. He is 21 years old, 6 foot tall and weighs 200 lbs. He is exactly the type of player that coach Tortorella would love with his style of play. He is certainly worth an offer sheet between $1,682,000-$3,364,000 which would cost the Rangers a 2nd and 3rd draft choice if he was signed( That would leave the Rangers with no 1st or 2nd but still 3 3rds next year). BUT, let's all remember what happened last time the Rangers signed a Colorado player to an offer sheet. Can everyone remember the Joe Sakic situation? MDZ and John Carlson played together in London, Ont. as MDZ was traded there during the season on a lineup loaded with future NHL players. Carlsson would clearly be a huge upgrade over DZ. (As Ranger fans have seen, MDZ has a wild child side of him like when he was hanging with Sean Avery and that "nightlife" was one of the reasons they both got sent to Hartford. Last year MDZ was babysat by Brad Richards who was teaching him how to act like a professional, which lead to an overall good season for MDZ. After the Nash trade MDZ tweeted something along the lineto Brad Richards: see you in New York#fingerscrossed. Coach Tort's had had issues with three players on the Rangers in Sean Avery and Brandon Dubinsky, who the coach says he likes as a person and MDZ is the last of the three left and coach Tort's says MDZ is in the plans for this coming season). Tyler Ennis from Buffalo is a small player and the Rangers already have a few in our system already. Christian Thomas, Ryan Bourque, and Michael St. Croix who all have the sniper shot but are all smaller than 5'10". That leaves the 2 players that would make the most difference if added to the Rangers. P.K. Subban is the type of player that the Rangers are looking for on the blueline. Subban is a dman that plays with an edge that would allow other on the backline to play a more offensive role. Now for the top unsigned RFA, Evander Kane. Kane has reportedly turned down Winnipeg's offer of a multi-year deal and would cost the Rangers the most to get financially and player/prospect wise.
Ok, so in looking at all of that, each of the teams will sign their own RFA's or match offer sheets from other clubs. Looks like Doan is staying in Phoenix with a new owner. Looks like we will all hear if the NHL helps the Newark team with finances again or if they force out Vanderbeek and run the team like they did the Coyotes. The NHLPA will send there rebuttal to the NHL. Looks like a big week ahead for the NHL.
Looking at this summers moves in the division so far, The regular season Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference Champs wound up 6 games short of the Stanley Cup. The offseason main losses are Brandon Prust, Brandon Dubinsky, and Artem Anisimov. This season additions from last year will be Rick Nash, Chris Kreider, and a healthy Michael Sauer. The Rangers are a better team than last season with another year of experience for players like Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Ryan McDonagh, and Michael Del Zotto. The Penguins traded top 3rd line center in Jordan Staal and dman Zbynek Michalek but added Brandon Sutter and backup goalie Tomas Vokoun. The Flyers made large changes in losing Jagr, James van Riemsdyk, backup goalie Bobrovsky, and Meszaros to injury. The added a Schenn brother and Ruslan Fedetenko but seem weak on the blueline and still have Bryzgalov between the pipes hoping for a better season from him. Newark had a great run in the playoffs reaching the finals but falling 2 games short as they went for it all instead of getting something for Parise who ripped out the heart of the Newark organization by leaving after being named captain last year. Not only did they lose their captain to the Wild, they lost Alexie Ponikarovsky to Winnipeg. The Islanders are another year older while adding 2 nice pieces in Lubomir Visnovsky and Brad Boyes while getting tougher with Matt Carkner and Eric Boulton. They did lose Parenteau, but Boyes should fill the hole made by P.A.'s departure. So, it looks like the Rangers have had the best overall summer of the Atlantic division and will be one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup this upcoming season. I have a feeling that there will be many players freed up from current contracts once the NHL and NHLPA agree on a new CBA which will shake things up a bit, but for now, the Rangers have a better shot then they did last season to not only win the division and the conference, but also to lift the Stanley Cup.
LET'S GO RANGERS!!!