The New York Rangers are a marquee franchise not only in the NHL, but New York City. To remain a marquee franchise, one must bring in top-flight talent not only to attract more business, but to give the paying customers a reason to pay outrageous sums of money to see that franchise play.
Through the years, the Rangers have been a franchise notorious for overpaying for the biggest free agents available. More often than not, they don’t pan out as hoped or expected.
Which brings us to this offseason. The Rangers are coming off their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in two decades. They are a player or two away from possibly taking the next step and winning the Cup. Although the team needs a couple of more pieces to the puzzle, it is also important for the Rangers to keep as much of the Cup Final team together as possible.
Obviously keeping the entire team together is impossible. Brad Richards, one of the team’s key contributors, has already been bought out. Unrestricted free agents such as Brian Boyle will likely receive a big payday elsewhere. As a result of this, the Rangers will be ultra-thin at the center position. The Colorado Avalanche‘s Paul Stastny is the best free agent center available on the market this offseason. While Stastny may not be a household name like a Sidney Crosby, he seems like the most logical option for the Rangers to fill a huge hole in their roster.
However, with the news coming out this week that next season’s salary cap will be $69 million, $2 million short of what originally was projected to be $71 million, is it really worth throwing so much money on another star player that may or may not pan out on Broadway?
Assuming Stastny signs with the Rangers, getting an average annual value similar to that of what Richards received with the Rangers, the team essentially would replace one enormous contract with another. The team also has a host of key players that are due raises, restricted and unrestricted free agents among them.
The bottom line is this: if the Rangers do the Ranger and New York thing and throw money at Stastny, do not count on the 2014-15 Rangers to be the same as the 2013-14 version.
Could Stastny make them better? Absolutely. At the same time, consider the situation should the Rangers hand out all the raises and pay Stastny what he wants. Not only will they lack the cap space to bring in that one last missing piece to a Stanley Cup puzzle if necessary, but they will be saddled with yet another long-term deal they cannot get out of.
What’s worse, they may compromise the core of the team that nearly got the Rangers to the promised land last season.