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Posts Tagged ‘unrestricted free agents’

20mar07_antropov

Dear Glen Sather: This dude is a beast. Love, 5-hole.com

It’s that time of the season again.  Yes, the annual trading frenzy as fading teams try to get something worthwhile for their unrestricted free agents.  The NHL trade deadline is March 4.  Take a look at this list of the top 50 UFA’s from the 8 worst teams in the league.  I like the Maple Leafs’ big power winger Nik Antropov.  And, with a cap hit of just over $2 million, I hope the Rangers like him too.

Let’s take a look at the games tonight.  We have some good matchups (i.e. Rangers-Ducks, Wings-Coyotes) and some complete mismatches.  Speaking of mismatches… in my opinion, the standard play for the *Gimmie* is to bet on the biggest mismatch, which would presumably be the safest bet.  Tonight, we have the Canadiens taking on the Thrashers (#5 vs #29) and the Capitals playing the Senators (#4 vs #28).  While we all agree on the picks (Habs and Caps), none of us picked either team as our gimmie.  Does that mean we smell upsets?  Or do we all just hate the Habs and we’re just too afraid to pick the inconsistent Caps on the road?  In other news, Eric picked the Hurricanes as his gimmie against the Penguins.  He must know something I don’t.

On to the picks!

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After taking a very brief look at who is going to be available, I’ve come up with a preliminary list of a few players I’d like to see wearing a Rangers jersey next season.

Ryan Malone, LW, Pit
The 6’4″, 225 lb. winger would add much needed size and skill to the Rangers front lines. The fast and powerful forward would make a great complement to the quick and shifty Scott Gomez. Malone, who racked up 103 PIM this season, would also add some toughness to the Rangers. Malone is 28 years old, and recorded 27 goals and 24 assists this season. Current salary: $1.45 mil

Kristian Huselius, LW, Cal
Huselius is a fast skater with a scorer’s touch. He had 25 goals this season to go with 41 assists. He plays fearlessly on the boards, which when combined with his quickness, makes him a very dangerous forechecker. I would love to see the 29-year-old Huselius on a line with Chris Drury and Ryan Callahan. Current salary: $1.4 mil

John Michael-Liles, D, Col
The Rangers have had their sights set on this 27-year-old Defenseman for some time. It was rumored they were trying to acquire him at this season’s trade deadline but the price was too steep. Now that he will be an Unrestricted Free Agent, I expect Sather to go after him. At 5’10” 185 lbs., he is smaller than your prototypical NHL defenseman, but he could be the power play quarterback the Rangers so desperately need. The offensive defenseman had 6 goals and 26 assists this season. Current salary: $1.4 mil

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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.

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