Michal Rozsival 2

Critical Decisions

by Steven Zeltser

This offseason is going to be critical for both the organization and Sather himself. There are many decisions to be made. Do they bring back their captain, Jaromir Jagr? If so, who else from the Jagr entourage must be signed? Straka? Rozsival? Malik? Does Shanahan have another year in him and is his leadership next season worth more than the prospect of bringing in someone via free agency to fill one of the many needs this team still has. The decisions made this offseason are going to directly impact the product on the ice for more than a single season.

It’s difficult to say with any certainty whether bringing Jagr back is the right move. It has to come down to the contact. If the Rangers truly want to continue moving forward and improve on their playoff performance from these last two season. They cannot do so and still be able to pay Jagr his true value in terms of salary to production. Given how important he is to the ultimate success of the team it�s hard to imagine Jagr agreeing to take less money to stay with the team for another 2 years. Especially, when it�s been well documented just how much European teams are willing to pay for his services. As I see it, getting Jagr at a discount would be the only way the Rangers could afford to both continue to incorporate youth while bringing in the pieces needed to take the next step.

There are other decisions that need to be made as well. We could see a very different team here next season. Paul MaraJason StrudwickMarek Malik and Michel Rozsival are all schedule to become UFA on July 1st. The means the Rangers only have four NHL defensemen signed to contacts. Most believe the Rangers need to fill those two spots with a Powerplay presence and a physical defenseman.

The top powerplay specialist are going to garner 7-8 million a year and the top bangers on the blue line are going to be looking for 4-6 M a year. It’s unrealistic that this can all be done while keeping most of the same personal. A number of players who were important to this team’s success the least two years would have to not be brought back.

Let us take a look at another hole in the lineup. Actually, it�s more of a deficiency. It’s obvious to those who followed this team last season. Jagr has not found a way to be consistently effective alongside either Drury or Gomez. So, another thing to think about is, do you continue to hold onto the Jagr at all? Sure, he works well with Dubinsky, but would it be a better option to look at players like Michael Ryder and Marion Hossa; Who are younger and could provide more long term success. It’s a decision that needs to be made, especially considering the financial commitments made to Gomez and Drury. Also, with the emergence of Dubinsky, could we see one of the three centermen moved in the near future.

There are a few things that could make some of these decisions easier. The first, being the early arrival of Alexei Cherepanov. While this seems unlikely, it would certainly make it easier to make decisions for the upcoming season. The Rangers could commit to having Jagr for another two years without needing to go after someone on the free agent market to put alongside Gomez or Drury. Another thing that eases the decision process is if the organization feels that Prucha, Callahan, Korpikoski, Dawes or any of the other young players are able to step up and fill the scoring void left alongside their top centermen.

Some of these problems are good ones to have to deal with. Like could a guy like Anisimov, although most feel he isn’t ready, be able to move over to wing and contribute that way? Given the depth at center, could he be moved for a winger? Many deals are made at the Draft each year. It’s just another option. More proof of how important it is to develop your own talent and thankfully the Rangers have improved.

The decisions made this off season could either propel this team to greater success in the future or completely undo some of the good that has been accomplished the last few seasons. I would say that Sather’s job could be directly impacted by the result of the decisions made this summer, but when Jimmy Dolan run the show, you can never tell how far the loyalty goes.

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