Glen Sather has been known to find success in the NHL. Whether as a coach of the Edmonton Oilers, or as a GM of the New York Rangers (that success mostly being the past few years), Sather always finds ways to help the team he is hired by become championship contenders.
In the past few years, Sather has changed from a man giving out ludicrous contracts to making some pretty good moves. One of those noted moves would be unloading an over-the-hill Scott Gomez for defenseman Ryan McDonagh. McDonagh is now one of the best defensemen in the league and could be the captain of the Rangers next year. There’s also the trade where he sent Ryan Callahan to the Tampa Bay Lightning for an old yet still productive Martin St. Louis. While the move was first questioned, it turned out to be the right one.
This offseason has been one of Sather’s best. There were 12 players who were either restricted or unrestricted free agents. Some of those players would eventually walk for more money, but Sather found cheap ways to fill those holes and still have a top team. He took a chance on Benoit Pouliot last year and it worked out for him. This year, he signed Lee Stempniak, who’ll take Pouliot’s role and probably do better with it. What Sather’s doing now is working with his head coach on building the most competitive team. Him and Alain Vigneault seem to be on the right page, and his recent two-year deal with Chris Kreider is a win-win for both Kreider and New York.
But while it’s been an offseason of filling holes in the team, next offseason is where Sather will show how good of a GM he has become. Four Rangers (Derek Stepan, Marc Staal, Mats Zuccarello, Carl Hagelin) will be entering free agency in 2015. All four of these players are very important to the team’s success. Stepan is their best center, Staal is one of the best second line defensemen in the NHL, Zuccarello is the best playmaker on the team and Hagelin’s speed alone is a game changer. And with a limited cap (maybe it’ll go up a few million), this will be a real challenge to keep all four.
Maybe Sather is being quiet this offseason with money to save for next year. Maybe he’s got a plan and one of them could be on the move during next season. I know it’s a little weird to think of next offseason already, but knowing you have some of your best players entering free agency after next season, Sather needs to think two steps ahead or the Rangers will take two steps back.