Yesterday’s signing of Tim Kennedy in many ways surprising. Perhaps, more than anything, this was Sather being opportunistic, and taking advantage of a rare young free agent with some promise, at a bargain price. Certainly it’s hard to see how the addition of Kennedy fits into any sort of strategy for the coming season.
The Blueshirts now have sixteen forwards with NHL experience signed to contracts, and that’s not counting Evgeny Grachev, Dale Weise or Mats Zuccarello Aasen. Even if you take into account that Kris Newbury and Jeremy Williams are almost certainly heading to Hartford, the Rangers will be left with fourteen or fifteen guys competing for twelve spots, and maybe a thirteenth on the bench.
It isn’t therefore, particularly surprising that speculation – including from the media – is that the Rangers will make a move or two before the season starts, to relieve the pressure.
The forward under the most pressure now appears to be Brian Boyle. The fourth line centerman failed to make much of an impact last year, and could find himself the odd man out, especially considering the reports suggesting the Rangers see the newly signed Kennedy as a center rather than a wing.
The thirty five year old Todd White is another who will likely be given consideration in a trade should the opportunity arise, although his $2M Cap Hit so close to the season when most teams have already reached their budget makes it less likely. Certainly White doesn’t see himself going anywhere, having relocated his family to the area and already putting his kids into local schools.
Another center who might find himself back on the outer with a poor camp is Erik Christensen. A relatively small contract at $925K for one year, might squeeze into someone’s budget should there be an injury during camp or the preseason.
Those who assuredly don’t have to worry about a trade include Marian Gaborik (value to the club), Alexander Frolov (recently signed), Chris Drury (no movement clause) and Derek Boogaard (no competition for his spot), while you’d have to expect that Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Vinny Prospal, Brandon Prust Tim Kennedy, and Artem Anisimov are also unlikely to move.
That leaves Sean Avery. While there is no doubt that his relationship with, and performance under John Tortorella has been far from successful, it seems unlikely that there’s much market for the Grate One’s last two years. It seems more likely that he’ll be a healthy scratch, than a legitimate trading chip.
As for the fringe forwards, figure Aasen, Grachev and Weise join Newbury and Williams in Hartford to start the season. With just six games to make an impression, they’d have to be spectacular to force their way into the line-up at this stage. The most they can probably hope for is to catch Tortorella’s eye for a chance later in the year.
If somehow one of them does have a spectacular camp, then Sather will likely reassess his options, but don’t hold your breath on this happening.
The chances are that Sather will indeed make a move or two…if he can find takers this late in the season.