Thursday, June 30, 2011

John Tortorella Comments On Drury, Free Agency

Rangers head coach John Tortorella broke his silence today when he spoke to the media for the first time since the Rangers Prospect Developmental Camp opened on Monday. Tortorella discussed subjects ranging from Chris Drury's buyout and the process of naming a new captain all the way to his thoughts on free agency opening tomorrow and how active he expects the Rangers to be.

Torts had a lot to say, and it was chronicled by Jesse Spector of the New York Daily News. You can read Torts' quotes here. Just to go over some quick highlights, here are my thoughts on some of the interesting things Torts had to say.

Tortorella talked about how much Chris Drury meant to this team in the locker room, but that overall this was a business decision that needed to be made. Torts is absolutely right on that one. Having a fourth line center and a penalty kill specialist making $7 million when the Rangers have so many other pressing needs would've made no sense at all. Sather and Torts really didn't have a choice, and as much as Chris Drury was respected by his teammates, the fact is he really has nothing left to offer this team as far as what they do on the ice goes.

Tortorella said he won't be naming a new team captain until after training camp is over because that's the way he believes in doing things. Fair enough. Torts obviously wasn't going to name a captain this early in the offseason, especially when the favorite for the position - Ryan Callahan - is still, to this point, unsigned. At this point it would be a surprise if Cally doesn't have the "C" on his jersey come opening night.

Torts didn't close the door on the possibility of re-signing impending UFAs Matt Gilroy, Steve Eminger, Vinny Prospal or Ruslan Fedotenko. In other words, anybody who's a free agent could be back if the chips fall in the right places (or I guess you could say wrong places, considering the only way most of those guys would be brought back would be if the Rangers fail to land Brad Richards). It wouldn't make sense for Torts to close the door on signing anybody right now considering he doesn't know how the market is going to play out yet. I personally think Fedotenko will definitely brought back. I could see Eminger coming back if the price is right, and maybe Vinny Prospal if the Rangers fail to sign Richards and are in desperate need for offensive help. Ideally, though, the only guy brought back would be Fedotenko.

Some of the most telling comments from Torts' media session were his thoughts on free agency, which opens tomorrow. Torts said that he believes the Rangers have a solid core nucleus of kids moving forward, and now it's time to begin building on the rest of the team either through free agency or trades. He also said that if there's no real player in free agency that can help this team, then "let’s not just add for the sake of adding, and stay with it." In other words, Brad Richards isn't just Plan A heading into tomorrow - he's also Plan B, C and D. It's basically Brad Richards or bust at this point for the Rangers, and if they can't land him Torts doesn't believe Glen Sather should do anything drastic, like overpay for a lesser free agent just for the sake of adding someone new to the team. I can't say I disagree with Torts, but at this point I would really have no idea where the Rangers would go if they let Brad Richards get away. I just know that I really can't stomach to see an opening night line of Vinny Prospal-Erik Christensen-Marian Gaborik again.

A lot of what Torts said will become a lot clearer when free agency opens tomorrow. Torts' comments made it pretty obvious that Brad Richards needs to be the first domino to fall before the Rangers' offseason activity truly begins. As someone who has been pro signing Brad Richards, I just hope he decides pretty quickly so that we don't have to constantly be refreshing Twitter all weekend for all the latest rumors on where he'll wind up going.

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