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Take a look at the Rangers projected roster for 2008-2009.  The top 3 lines and the defense are pretty much set, but there seem to be too many forwards.

Zherdev-Gomez-Naslund
Prucha-Drury-Dawes
Callahan-Dubinsky-Sjostrom
Voros-Fritsche/Rissmiller-[Anisimov?]
Hollweg/[Byers?]-Betts-Orr/[Moore?]

Redden-Staal
Rozsival-Girardi
Mara-Kalinin-[Sanguinetti?]

By my calculations the Rangers have an excess of 3 NHL forwards plus 3 more NHL-caliber forwards currently in Hartford.  Because of this, it might be a good idea to make a salary-clearing trade for draft picks.   It’s safe to say that the Rangers still have interest in signing a proven goal-scorer either during the off-season or before the trade deadline next year.  If the Rangers can add some cap space to the $3.3 million they currently have, they would be in the running to make a play for a top-quality winger.

 

Update: Forgot about Kalinin. Thanks to the commenter “Jagr”.

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The Jagr deal with Avangard Omsk is believed to be for two years plus an option for a third, and will pay Jagr about $7 million tax-free, which is the equivalent of about $11 million a season in the NHL.

Jagr had plenty to say, mentioning that playing in New York was an “extraordinary experience.”  He also noted his regrets for not reaching the 84-point plateau that would have automatically extended his contract with the Rangers.

Jagr’s parting shot:

“And I also want to say to the people like Mike Milbury who made their living by criticizing me all the time, that they can kiss my ass.”

As for NHL players going to play overseas, Vladmir Ruzicka, the coach of the Czech Republic national team had this to say about players going to Russia: “The NHL should be afraid and very afraid because the Continental League in Russia is filthy rich and I can guarantee you that they will lure a lot of players, especially those who are about 30, who have done their time in the NHL and made some money there and they will offer them pretty good conditions and a lot of them will go to Russia.”

The man has a point.  The money doesn’t go as far in the U.S. as it does overseas.  And if Russian teams are going to pay players in before-tax dollars, there will be a lot of incentive to play there.

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Let’s go through a projection of how the Rangers roster might shape up:

Zherdev-Gomez-[Jagr or some UFA]
Dawes-Drury-Callahan
Sjostrom-Dubinsky-Prucha
Hollweg-Betts-Orr
Fritsche-Rissmiller-Voros
Shanahan?

Rozsival-Staal
Redden-Girardi
Pock?-Strudwick?-Sanguinetti?

The Rangers have $14.5 million in cap space but that number does not include Dawes, Sjostrom, Fritsche, Rissmiller, Voros, or Strudwick.

Assuming the Rangers will spend roughly $4 or $5 million between those players, they will have about $9 or $10 million to spend on Jagr, Shanahan, and any UFA’s the Rangers might desire.

That doesn’t leave much wiggle room.  Decision time for Slats.

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The Rangers traded defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman to the Columbus Blue Jackets for forwards Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche.

In addition to adding some size and depth up front, the move will clear up some cap space for the Rangers to potentially make some moves (i.e. re-sign Jagr, acquire either Naslund or Huselius).

In my opinion, moving Backman and his $3.4 million off the roster and off the salary cap is a great move, but the loss of Tyutin is significant.  Tyutin has been a solid defenseman for the Rangers.  However, the acquisition of Redden gave the Rangers 4 top-notch defenseman (Redden plus Staal, Rozsival, and Girardi).  Therefore, Tyutin became non-essential.  This trade is good news for Bobby Sanguinetti.

Zherdev is young and seems to have a knack for putting the puck in the net.  The 6’2″ right wing is just 23 years old and scored 26 goals to go along with 35 assists in 2007-2008.  He is set to make $3.25 million in 2008-09, with only $2.5 million charged against the cap.

Fritsche is a 6’1″ center who is also 23 years old.  He had 10 goals and 12 assists last season.

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The Sean Avery era in New York is officially at an end. 

Avery signed a 4-year deal worth $15.5-million with the Dallas Stars.  If you’re keeping score at home, the Rangers let Avery go over a difference of a few hundred grand per year.  For a team that has no problem throwing ridiculous money around (e.g. “making it rain”), they seemed to be awfully blasé about re-signing one of their top wingers.

If you’re feeling upset, take a minute and put yourself in the position of the Mens Vogue editors or the Olson twins.  Imagine how they must feel!

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Grading Day 1 of Free Agency: Rangers get a B+

Scott Burnside of espn.com assigns grades for the signings from day 1 of free agency.  Definitely worth a read.

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Check out this article from abovethelaw.com for an interesting legal perspective on MSG’s battle with the NHL.

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