Thursday, July 5, 2012

Recapping Free Agency For The Rangers So Far

Apologies for being away the past few weeks, but I was away on vacation and really didn't have time to sit down and post news on the blog. Anyway, I'm back now and will be on top of things going forward.

To recap, here are all the Rangers' moves so far in free agency:

- Re-signed goalie Marty Biron to a two-year deal.
- Re-signed defenseman Stu Bickel to a two-year deal.
- Re-signed forward Kris Newbury to a one-year deal.
- Retained the rights to forward Mats Zuccarello and defenseman Anton Stralman, meaning they will be Rangers property if either decides to play in the NHL this upcoming season.
- Signed forward Aaron Asham to a two-year deal.
- Signed forward Micheal Bailey to a one-year deal.
- Signed forward Taylor Pyatt to a two-year deal.
- Signed forward Kyle Jean, who participated in the Rangers' prospect camp last week after spending the last two seasons playing for Lake Superior State. The terms are undisclosed, but he's a kid just coming out of college who's just 22 years old, so it's a good depth move for Harford.
- Lost forwards John Mitchell to Colorado Avalanche, Brandon Prust to Montreal Canadiens, and Ruslan Fedotenko to Philadelphia Flyers.
- Lost defensemen Jeff Woywitka to St. Louis Blues and John Scott to Buffalo Sabres.
- Lost the following players, who were on the Connecticut Whale last season: goalie Chad Johnson to Phoenix Coyotes and forward Jonathan Audy-Marchessault to Columbus Blue Jackets.

 My overall thoughts so far are that the Rangers have not gotten any better since free agency opened. In fact, I think they've gotten worse. They still need to sign a right-handed defenseman, whether that be bringing Anton Stralman back or going after someone else, and I feel like everyone they've signed so far has either been about equal or slightly worse compared to the players they've lost so far. Losing Prust definitely has been the biggest loss for the Rangers so far, but there was no way they could compete with the ridiculous contract Montreal offered Prust. The Rangers' biggest need coming into the offseason was to add scoring help, and they haven't done that yet. There's still plenty of time to make moves, and rumors are that the Rangers are still engaged in talks with the Blue Jackets for Rick Nash. Whatever it may be, Glen Sather will undoubtedly need to be active in the trade and free agent markets because the need for offense has only gotten more pressing since news broke that Marian Gaborik will be out until at least November with a torn labrum.

As for who the Rangers lost so far, Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko obviously are obviously the two biggest names. Prust was a huge part of this team's identity and really represented that gutsy, gritty attitude that John Tortorella's Rangers team embodies. It's always a bummer when a fan favorite like Prust leaves to play elsewhere, but as I said, it would've been a mistake for the Rangers to give a guy like that a four-year deal when you consider the beating his body takes year after year. In Fedotenko's case, I'm really surprised he didn't come back following his strong postseason performance. It seems like the Rangers' thinking was that a player like Taylor Pyatt can do the same things Feds did while he was here, and he also should be able to add some more offense and size on the third or fourth line.

There is still much work to be done, but plenty of time to do it in for Glen Sather and Co.

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