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Only one month ago the New York Rangers season ended at the hands of the eventual Stanley Cup Champion, Los Angeles Kings, in the Staples Center. No matter though, “hockey was king” again in New York City for a couple of months as the heart-felt stories were plentiful (Marty St. Louis and Dominic Moore to name a couple).
The cruel reality of the NHL’s hard salary cap is with success brings great challenge. Players take advantage of the extra exposure in the finals and receive greater pay-days. New York Rangers general manager Glen Sather is feeling this challenge as we speak.
Benoit Pouliot (FA, 5-years - $4 million per - Edmonton Oilers)
Brian Boyle (FA, 2-years – $2.3 million per - Tampa Bay Lightning)
Anton Stralman (FA, 4-years - $4.5 million per - Tampa Bay Lightning)
Brad Richards (FA, Buyout - Chicago Blackhawks)
Derek Dorsett (Trade, Vancouver Canucks)
Dan Boyle (FA, 2-years - $4.5 million per)
Tanner Glass (FA, 3-years - $1.45 million per)
Dominic Moore (FA, 2-years - $1.5 million per)
On paper it looks as if Glen Sather is getting crushed. Let’s remember though that shrewd-calculating decisions must be made in order to preserve the future of a franchise in the NHL.
Using their second of two “compliance-buyouts” on Brad Richards was an obvious choice. His $6.67 million salary that comes off the books was not an option, it was a necessity as the return on investment was brutal, according to NYDailyNews.com.
Trading Dorsett to the Canucks was a head-scratcher considering Tanner Glass (his replacement), came only $200 thousand-cheaper, according to BlueShirtBanter.com. For all those Rangers’ fans who watched Glass in Pittsburgh, it is painfully obvious that he is not the player Dorsett is. A Glass - Alain Vigneault former relationship could have been at play there.
Brian Boyle, Pouliot and Stralman are all players that went elsewhere based purely on cap-decisions. There is little doubt that the loss of these guys will hurt, but because Sather only has a little over $14 million to work with and four-restricted free agents to sign in Chris Kreider, Mats Zucarello, Derick Brassard and John Moore, it’s easy to see a few key-contributors had to jump ship.
The Dan Boyle signing will be a major key to the Rangers success or failure next season (12 goals, 24 assists for San Jose last season). While 37, he provides two things this team was desperately missing last year: a right-handed shot on the blue-line and another power-play specialist. Considering he and Stralman signed for around the same worth, next season’s fortunes will be judged heavily on how Dan Boyle produces.
The Rangers are still very strong (arguably stronger) on the back-end, but the forward depth took a major hit and scoring could be a struggle yet again in 2014-15. Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard will also have to grow because that big-time center could not be afforded (see Paul Stastny, 4-years - $28 million per in St. Louis).
With those four-restricted free agents (D.Moore, J.Moore, Zucarello, Kreider) most likely taking up the remaining $14 million in cap space, there is very little Sather can do right now aside from a slick trade. So, youngsters and development will be a key factor this upcoming season. Guys like Jesper Fast, J.T. Miller and Oscar Lindberg will be looked upon to step up in big ways.
Hopefully Sather has a trick or two up his sleeve, but for now think of 2014-2015 as a step-back unless a few prospects develop quickly.