You can call me a Debbie downer or Mr. Negativity all you want. But we are now close to two weeks into the NHL free agency period, and with everyone of any relevance signed to new contracts on teams not named the New York Rangers, GM Glen Sather and head coach Alain Vigneault will need to do a superb job filling the holes in this Rangers’ roster for me not to say the Rangers will take steps back this upcoming season.
I mean, even if restricted free agents Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard and John Moore are all re-signed, the Rangers would still need another center and two wingers to fill their starting roster. Now one of these spots will most likely be occupied by youth, most likely J.T. Miller, but that would still leave two roster spots the Rangers would need to be occupied by October.
You can say let the kids play and have all three spots occupied by prospects, but you have to remember that the Rangers are supposedly a win-now team, and trusting that many rookies to get the job done and help the Rangers win the Stanley Cup this upcoming season is highly unrealistic.
A trade for a No. 1 center would help the Rangers’ chances of getting back to the finals, but it would also come at a big risk. A trade for a No. 1 center would almost guarantee a weakness in the Rangers’ bottom six since this would leave the Rangers will very little to no money to spend. Also, for a trade like this to even occur, the Rangers would need their trading partner to eat a substantial amount of the No. 1 center’s salary in order to fit him under the salary cap.
Realistically, the Rangers can re-sign all of their RFAs and then go out and sign center Mike Ribeiro and winger David Booth for very cheap and then leave one winger spot up for grabs to be won by youth in training camp. This may be their best option in my opinion, but there is still a problem.
The problem is that their roster will not look as good as last season’s no matter which route the Rangers decide to take. The Rangers just lost too many pieces this offseason from their buyout of Brad Richards to their trade of Derek Dorsett to Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle and Benoit Pouliot, who left during free agency.
All of this is ultimately why the Rangers will take steps back this upcoming season. It is just really hard to imagine with all of this roster turnover that the Rangers can make it back to the Stanley Cup Final in the forthcoming 2014-15 NHL season.