Blair Betts

Unpleasant Truths

For those of you who’re hoping for the return of Blair Betts, I appreciate your faith, but it’s time to give up hoping for a redux. Glen Sather said as much before the free agency period opened earlier this week, when he said that a team like Edmonton could “woo” him. That’s code for “we’re not looking to bring him back”. Of course it makes sense that he’d re-join Tom Renney, a guy who showed more faith in Betts than pretty much anyone else.

The addition of three centermen: Brian BoyleCorey Locke and Tyler Arnason…all but confirms that this is the intent of the organization.

Those hoping that Wade Redden will be traded or sent down to the minors are also deluding themselves. The past three seasons as well as his bloated contract will make suitors few and far between, besides which, Sather will probably want to see if John Tortorella can do anything with him now that he’s got a full year to work with him.

If you’re hoping Rozsival might be gone, then you might have modestly more light at the end of the tunnel. His $5M per year for the next three years is quite a good deal more affordable than Redden’s contract, but there are still significant barriers to a deal. With teams quickly filling up their Cap space, there’s only a limited window to make a deal, and that’s not even taking into account Rozsival’s contract which allows him “blacklist” eight teams he will not accept a trade to.

Throw in his position as a supporting player who depends on others to create space and opportunity, and you probably have fewer clubs in the mix. That’s not to say that some GM, somewhere might believe he’d be able to contribute to their team.

But even if the Rangers do find a partner, they’d be left with a fairly big hole on defense. Say what you will about Rozsival, but he plays a lot of key minutes and has been very durable as a Ranger. With only three other “veteran” d-men on the roster, the Rangers would be throwing caution to the wind by trying to go into the season with three rookies, and even fewer choices on the PP point.

Yes there have been rumors of the Rangers having interest in Sergei Zubov, but this is not your father’s Zubov. The former Ranger played just 10 games – no goals, four assists – last season, missing most of the year through injury. He turns 39 in a few weeks, and you have to wonder how much he can really contribute. There are certainly other options out there like Francois Beauchemin, Derek Morris and Paul Mara (among others) and perhaps a combination could help fill the gap.

One player who we might see moved however is Nikolai Zherdev. With the acquisition of Gaborik and the expected resigning of Ryan Callahan, Zherdev becomes a third right wing that could potentially be used in trade for a center. It’s fair to say that his value probably isn’t super high right now, what with his inconsistency now on two teams, and the singling out by coach John Tortorella, but still there’s not a lot of 60 point scorers out there, and there might be an opportunity out there.

Other moves you might see, include the addition of two more defenseman, one for regular duty and another as a depth player. A centerman looks clearly to be a consideration too, despite the number of 3rd/4th tier options now in the organization.

Finally, for those who’re expecting guys like Artem AnisimovEvgeny GrachevMatt Gilroy and Michael Del Zotto to be on the opening night roster. Don’t get too excited yet. Anisimov looks like the most likely to make the team, though it’ll certainly depend on what if anything happens in terms of signing another center. Grachev has Higgins, Avery, Korpikoski ahead of him and seemingly the 4th line spot is more likely to go to Voros or Brashear.

On defense, there looks to be a good chance that one of the young blueliners gets a shot, but there’s a lot of competition with Corey Potter probably leading the way, followed by Michael Sauer and then Matt Gilroy.

Whatever happens the remainder of the summer, you’re probably looking at another 2-3 signings away from your final team. The big moves that many hope the team will make, are very unlikely now that Scott Gomez is gone…more likely we’ll see a couple of additional veterans and maybe one or two spots (barring injury) available to the rookies.

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