Perhaps Glen Sather has a rabbit up his sleeve, but with the first nine hours of the 2008 free agent period behind us the Rangers are still without any wingers on their top lines, and are staring down the barrel of a season without a top line winger in their midst.
As with most years, the free agent period got off to a modest start, and it wasn’t until 3:40pm that the first Rangers’ announcement was made. Group VI, unrestricted free agent forward Aaron Voros elected to leave Minnesota and join the Rangers for what was later to be reported to be a three year deal worth $3M. Voros made his NHL debut with the Wild last year, but managed to add fourteen points (7 goals, 7 assists) in 55 appearances, to go with 141 penalty minutes.
Voros averaged a little over nine minutes a game in Minnesota, and even saw some power play time (1:24 per game) perhaps leading the Rangers to believe they might have found a player who still has some room to reach his potential. A quick glance through his career statistics isn’t particularly encouraging, though he did manage to put up respectable numbers in the NCAA for Alaska-Fairbanks.
Besides his offense, Voros has shown a willingness to use his 6-4 210lb frame to hit and is willing to drop the gloves, something the Rangers (and their fans) will no doubt welcome, but at this stage he still projects to be a third or, more likely fourth line winger competing with primarily with Ryan Hollweg and Colton Orr for time. The Rangers’ fourth line contributed little offense last year so it may be that Sather is hoping that Voros can help there.
Joining Voros in competing for fourth line minutes will be former Shark and Massachusetts native Patrick Rissmiller. A penalty killer for San Jose, the Rangers picked him up over two an half hours after signing Voros to a deal.
Like Voros, Rissmiller (6-4, 205lbs) brings size to a relatively small team. Rissmiller does not however bring the same sort of edge, and his key contribution will likely be on the defensive side of the game rhather than on offense. The former Shark has just 18 goals and 27 assists in 180 regular season games with the Sharks, though he average around 13 minutes a game in ice time last year.
At the same time the Rangers finally announced the signing of Andreas Jamtin to his first NHL contract. Jamtin was a former Detroit Red Wings draft pick, who played for Swedish Elite League champions HV 71 last year. Jamtin perhaps could be compared to a Jarkko Ruutu type player, one who plays with an edge but maybe lacks some on the offensive side. With that said, Jamtin had a respectable 17 goals last year in 51 games for his club.
It would seem initially that Jamtin will have his work cut out for him competing for a spot on the NHL roster, so the likely scenario sees him going to Hartford to ease into the North American game.
The first announcement of a re-signing by the Rangers came at around 6:45pm with the news that Michal Rozsival gets his wish and will stay in New York for another four years at $5 million per year, more than double his previous $2.1M. Rozsival certainly benefited from a decidely weak market (TSN had him rated as the #5 most desirable free agent defender), but maybe could’ve gotten another half million if he didn’t want to stay in NY.
Minutes later and the Rangers added the signing of Wade Redden to a six year, $39M contract, that will see him play on Broadway through to 2013-14. The 31 year old Redden is coming of a poor season in Ottawa and now has a lot to prove in what was widely seen as a questionable move by the media and fans alike.
There’s no doubt there are other teams that would have offered similar money and terms to Redden, but the Rangers’ already tight Cap position got significantly tighter with the signings.
On the positive side, the Rangers finally have a credible option on their first pair, and arguably a player who can set up the play with the man advantage.
The Rangers announced the resigning of backup goalie Stephen Valiquette late in the day, but now find themselves in a tough position going into day two, with still plenty left unresolved.