After an offseason of promise which was stalled by greed, the Rangers never got on track in this asterick of a season. The season of Rick Nash's first season in Ranger Blue turned into a cluster(frank) with the Rangers spinning their wheels from the start and never really getting comfortable whether it was settling in with a new team or filling the holes that the "Big Trade" along with not having the depth to fill in for injuries. Is this team better than it was to start this 1/2 season? Clealry YES, but a few more tweakes need to be done organizationally.
The Gaborik trade was necessary, although it let go the Rangers only natural scorer. It filled the holes made by adding Derick Brassard, John Moore, and Derek Dorsett. Brassard is an upgrade over Artem Anisimov; John Moore played a regular shift for the Rangers unlike Tim Erixon; Derek Dorsett isn't Brandon Prust, but from the same mold; and Ryan Clowe gives the same game as Dubinsky but is alittle bit better dropping the gloves. Getting Mats Zuccarello back in a Blueshirt was a plus as his shootout expertise was needed. Once Marc Staal went down to his eye injury, someone had to step up and Anton Stralman was better than expected splitting those minutes with Michael Del Zotto.
Henrik Lundqvist has always been a very good goalie but has become an elite player in the NHL as he could defend his Vezina trophy this season. Martin Biron looks to his last season as a Ranger next season because the Rangers have already given Cam Talbot a contract that pays him the same to be in the AHL or NHL in 2 seasons so it seems the writing is on the wall. The defense was solid for the most part again with Moore fitting in with Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Anton Stralman, Marc Staal, Michael DelZotto, and 7th dman Steve Eminger.
The question that hurt the Rangers this year was Marian Gaborik never came on strong after recovering from his offseason shoulder surgery and worked his way out of N.Y. while the rest of the players were looking to find theirplace in the rotation of lines. After the Gaborik trade, everything seemed to fall into place for the most part. The Rangers battled strong to squeak into the playoffs and fought AGAIN through the Washington Capitals but it took everything out of the Rangers who did what they could but was knocked out by a better Boston Bruins team. The Bruins rolled 4 lines and had prospects fill in for injuries and they performed very well, especially dman Krug.
The question now is where does the organization go from here? With Glen Sather fighting his illness this season, does he give up some of the jobs he has as top dog running the Rangers. His underlings have been there for years watching him and learning(hopefully not his free agent signings for the most parts but definitely his trades). How about Glen Sather just run the Rangers as CEO, let Mark Messier take over President and be the league face of the Rangers management; let Jeff Gorton be the General Manager as he did a great job of piecing the Bruins together in the past and has done alot of the work with the Rangers on contracts already, and bring in Brian Leetch in as an assistant coach to run the powerplay.
Player wise, I would do the following this offseason UFA's/RFA's: Do NOT sign: Hamerlik,Gilroy,Collins,Segal,Vernace,Pyett,Niemi, and sadly Michael Sauer.
I WOULD resign: Ryan Clowe(who on break on day had said he would take less to stay a Ranger), Derek Stepan(offer 3yr $3.2 mil per--Brassard like contract), Carl Hagelin (offer 2year $2.55mil per---DelZotto like bridge contract), Mats Zuccarello(offer 2yr $1.735per), Ryan McDonagh(offer 4yr $4 mil per) and ever qualify the 3 RFA's they got in trades this season in Benn Ferriero, Brandon Mashinter, and Palmieri. I would TRADE/WAIVE Arron Asham, Taylor Pyatt, and Darroll Powe. Do the Rangers GO FOR IT this upcoming season and keep Brad Richards as a third line center(behind Stepan and Brassard. )With the above signings I proposed, and keeping Richards, the Rangers would still be around $1 million under the cap for next year.
A season of players knowing each other and the Columbus crew now knowing what the playoffs are about, this upcoming season will be THE SEASON that everyone expected for this season which was stoped by the CBA of greed. The Rangers can easily look like NASH-BRASSARD-CLOWE/HAGELIN-STEPAN-CALLAHAN/ZUCCARELLO-RICHARDS-KREIDER/BOYLE-J.T.MILLER-DORSETT--------McDONAGH-GIRARDI/STAAL-STRALMAN/DELZOTTO-MOORE------LUNDQVIST-BIRONl
That is a team that can win!! I can easily see DelZotto traded, Richards bought out, Clowe unsigned(saving the 2014 2nd round Rangers pick). I also see The King having a say on who the Rangers add and signed to an extension for around $9 mil per for max 8 years. It is believed that Hank wants a few more Swedes on the team to make it more "homey". I would love those players to be big defenseman from the Lighting Hedman(would need trade--maybe DelZotto(BFF with Stamkos),Taylor Pyatt(brother Tom on T.B.), Christian Thomas)----- or even UFA Douglas Murray(UFA) from Pittsburgh along with giving Daniel Alfredsson(UFA) a chance to win the Cup in N.Y. It would seem like Ranger prospect Oscar Lindberg is ready as he was on the winning team in the Swedish League and won the Gold in the Worlds with Sweden. The Rangers will do something to make the NHL Draft in Newark a fun day. Heal up Ranger players, the unveiling of the finished Garden along with the finished Rangers will make for a funfilled 2013-2014!!
LET'S GO RANGERS!!!