What the New York Rangers can take out of losing in the Stanley Cup Final to the Los Angeles Kings is that depth down the middle is extremely important. The Kings four centers of Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Jarret Stoll, and Mike Richards are the best in terms of production and depth. The Rangers on the other hand do not.
Derek Stepan is currently the Rangers No. 1 center, but his production does not match this. He is not dynamic and better suited for the second line. Brad Richards was supposed to be the team’s No. 1 center when they inked him three years ago to a nine-year, $60 million dollar contract, but has fallen so far from grace that by this season’s end was playing on the Rangers’ fourth line. Derick Brassard and Dominic Moore are currently the Rangers other two centers and neither are first-line or even second-line center material.
The Rangers’ big weakness down the middle has to get fixed this offseason if the Rangers want to go on another big playoff run, and this problem can be potentially rectified if Rangers’ GM Glen Sather signs free-agent center Paul Stastny to a deal.
Stastny is 28 years old, is the son of NHL Hall of Famer Peter Stastny, and is coming off of a 60-point season, 25 goals and 35 assists, with the Colorado Avalanche, which would have led the entire Rangers’ team last season.
So while everything sounds great, the problem the Rangers will have in signing Stastny is the price. Stastny is currently asking for around $7 million per year, which is basically the same amount of money per year the Rangers are trying to get rid of by buying out Richards before July 1. While I understand Sather’s unwillingness to give out the money he just got back, after hopefully Richards’ buyout, Stastny is just entering his prime and could potentially replace Richards, which would help this Rangers’ team be contenders for years to come. Plus Stastny’s price would only involve money and not players from the Rangers’ current roster, prospects, and/or picks that an offseason trade would entail.