There is no sugar coating this, day one of free agency for the Rangers was a total disaster. My worst case scenario happened; Dan Boyle replaced Anton Stralman, JT Miller appears likely to be the third line center going into training camp, and Benoit Pouliot got all the money. Okay, what actually happened was worse than my ‘worst’ case scenario. Because in addition to everything that happened, the Rangers gave possession anvil Tanner frickin’ Glass a three year contract.
Before we eviscerate Glen Sather for devolving back to ‘Drunk Sather’ (more on this later), let’s try to think of some solutions to make the Rangers current self-inflicted predicament suck less.
Let’s start with a Slap Shot quote, because everything is made better by that:
“Every piece of garbage that comes on the market and you gotta buy it”
The Rangers need to go garbage picking. They need to find the new Benoit Pouliot in hopes of rebuilding some depth in the bottom six. What made the Rangers so successful last year was their ability to effectively roll four lines, they were a very deep team.
Luckily, there are some options that don’t entirely suck (though some sort of do):
My first preference is probably Mike Ribeiro. Attitude problems be damned, the Rangers still need to replace Brad Richards 2.0 P/60. The additions of Boyle and Glass coupled with the loss of Stralman and Boyle severely hurts the Rangers ability to compete 5 on 5, so they mine as well load up on the power play. If there is one thing Ribeiro can most certainly do, it’s help a power play. The market for him will never be lower, Don Maloney publically threw his reputation into a dumpster. But on a one year, prove it deal, he will be motivated and hopefully reeled in by the Rangers strong leadership group. Though if Ribeiro couldn’t control himself in Arizona, I have no idea what will happen to him in New York City.
If not Ribeiro, Mike Santorelli is intriguing. Largely because of his age, puck possession skills, and even strength production. Despite a high percentage of defensive zone starts, Santorelli was a positive possession player and managed 1.9 P/60 at even strength. That’s pretty damn impressive. As Dave pointed out on twitter, if Vigneault gives him more favorable zone starts, Santorelli may produce at an ever higher rate. On the flipside, the Rangers don’t have a single line capable of getting most of the defensive zone draws while not getting their teeth kicked in. Adding Santorelli would be a step in the right direction in that regard. Which is the reason I really like Santorelli, he has the ability to benefit the team in more ways than one; both of which fill critical needs.
There are arguments to be made for the rest of the players on the board. I’m sure Sather has or will kick the punctured tires of Dany Heatley, who by all accounts was the consummate professional in Minnesota despite not being very good at hockey anymore. Jordan Schroeder never really found himself with the Canucks organization, but he’s American (yay xenophobic tendencies!), still young, and a former first round pick, no risk in trying. The other guys, well I wouldn’t worry about the other guys.
There is also Peter Mueller, who couldn’t get an NHL job last year and played for Koten in the Swiss League. He was tied for second in the league in goal scoring. He’s only 26 years old and possesses decent speed and size. An added bonus is he’s known to sport some pretty solid flow. I wouldn’t be opposed to him either.
All of the mentioned players are one year contract candidates that fit the Rangers salary cap budget of less than $2 million. This situation could have been avoided if the Rangers made some smarter, more strategic moves, but this is where the organization stands right now.