Here’s a list of the Rangers unrestricted free agents and what they made this year. (Thanks to NHLnumbers.com… if you click on this link, you will waste a hell of a lot of time. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
Avery, Sean – $1.9 mil
Jagr, Jaromir – $8.36 mil
Malik, Marek – $2.5 mil
Mara, Paul – $3 mil
Rozsival, Michal – $2.3 mil
Shanahan, Brendan – $2.5 mil
Straka, Martin – $3.3 mil
Strudwick, Jason – $0.5 mil
Valiquette, Stephen – $0.635 mil
Out of that list, I think we’re more than likely going to be saying goodbye to Malik, Mara, Rozsival, Shanahan, and Straka. I think the Rangers would like to keep Strudwick and Valiquette if they can keep them for about the same salary. That leaves the 2 big questions: Sean Avery and Jaromir Jagr.
I’ve already made my case for Avery. If you want the short story, I think the Rangers should re-sign him. If you want the long story, click that link.
As for Jagr, I am undecided. He has proven he can still take control of a game and put the puck in the net… in spurts. The question is whether he can still perform at a high level for an entire season. And is he worth the high price tag? Keep in mind, the Rangers only paid Jagr $4.94 mil out of their own pockets. The rest was courtesy of the Washington Capitals. The reason I think the Rangers are not going to re-sign Jagr is that it seems like Jagr and the team are going in 2 different directions. Jagr prefers a European style puck-possession offense (even though it’s clear he doesn’t have the same power along the boards anymore), while the Rangers are moving towards a North American style of power hockey. I love the way Jagr and Dubinsky play together, so I do have some worries about the kid’s progress should the Rangers choose not to re-sign Jagr. But, I think Dubinsky is a talented center who would be successful with any wingers.
By the way, Sam Weinman wrote a great eulogy for the Jagr era.