An inside source in the Rangers front office has told me that Avery is seeking “Scott Hartnell money”, which would be 6 years/$25.2 million, and that the hold-up is Avery would like the Rangers to consider more than just the numbers when they consider his value. Here’s the problem: the Rangers front office sees no reason to pay him more than what his numbers say he is worth. Furthermore, the Rangers front office knows Avery likes living in New York City, and hopes to use that as a bargaining chip.
As with any deal negotiation, there is going to be a lot of bluffing as the two sides play a game of chicken. Avery wants the Rangers to take the fact that he loves New York as a positive. The Rangers, unfortunately, are sticking to the numbers, and seem to be trying to take advantage of Avery’s affinity for the Big Apple.
I think I have to side with Avery here. Here are my arguments for Avery and why I think the Rangers should show him the money.
1) The numbers. Avery has put up pretty good numbers with the Rangers. He wants to make Hartnell money and, to be fair, his numbers are fairly similar to Hartnell’s this season. The Flyer winger has 20 G, 15 A, and 135 PIM in 64 games this season. Avery has 11 G, 14 A, and 125 PIM in 41 games this season. 10 fewer points for Avery in 23 fewer games. At 27, Avery is 2 years older than Hartnell, but still just entering his prime.
2) He is a catalyst for the lineup and a great teammate. Look no further than the Rangers record the last two years with and without Avery to see the difference his presence in the lineup makes. Look, I’m the first guy to say that this is a team sport and that one player does not make or break the team. But, it is a rare occurrence for Avery to play in a game and go unnoticed. The guy is everywhere. Plus, think about how many different linemates Jagr has had this year, and, who has he looked most comfortable with? Avery and Dubinsky.
3) Intangibles. Why shouldn’t the Rangers consider the intangibles? The guy clearly loves playing and living in New York. That should be a positive to his negotiations, not held against him as a bargaining chip. As we all know, many players have come to New York and had difficulty adjusting. Avery, on the other hand, has truly flourished. Plus, any player who goes and sits up in the blue seats for a game when he’s injured is okay with me.
My prediction: Avery will play out of his mind for the next 3 months and play a big part in a Rangers playoff push. As any fantasy sports manager will tell you, an elite athlete in a contract year can be a beast. Maybe that is the Rangers’ intention… to preempt any complacency and then re-sign Avery after the season before he becomes a free agent. Hopefully this doesn’t backfire, because I would sure love to see Avery stay in Ranger blue.
Rangers vs. Isles preview coming in a few …