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July 05, 2007



Great post, bra. The only thing I would like to point out to you is that in your analysis, you seem to preface your points on the assumption that most of the top tier free agents to be will not, in fact, wind up getting to free agency because their respective teams fear losing an all too important player. On this point , I respectfully disagree, & I'll tell you why. The reason we had a lockout was because owners were standing their ground on a hard cap (albeit one that fluctuates respective to League revenues), & players feared they will never be able to make top dollar anymore due to the removal of the "open-market" system of salaries where this "market" dictated salaries. Now the players salaries have to fit in an overall team budget, where a teammates salary does impact others. To make a long story short, the new CBA was agreed upon by th players because of other incentives & opportunities offered to them to maximize the salary. Like free agency, for exanple. Players can now become UFA's at 27. What that means is that not only will they be younger when they get to free agency, but the life of the contracts will be twice as long. We were used to seeing big UFA contract in the 4 year range at $6-8M a year. Last week, in the first post lock-out, salary cap NHL UFA market, we see contracts being signed for that much money but for 6,7,& 8 years over the life of the contract. Also, because cap charges are only based on yearly averages over the course of the contract, players are getting huge signing bonuses & up-front salaries- if I'm not mistaken, Briere will make $10.5M his first 2 seasons. The point is that the players didn't fight & waste a year of salary during the lockout to forgo a chance at free agency. Thats why I don't think your'e going to see many players sign extensions to forgo UFA status, especially with the gluttony we experienced last week. And even if they opt for an extension, I believe the bar was set by Calgary this week in the "extension" market when they extended Iginla & Rehgeir (spelling?) both for 5 years. 5 year extensions? That was unheard of pre-lockout, when the norm for extensions was 2 years at most. So don't be shocked to see Vincenzo, Mr. Heatly, & Sid The Kid there for the taking- it's what they fought for, isn't it?

The Hockey Rabbi

We'll have to agree to disagree! I do believe that most of the top notch players in my list will be reisned (Lecavalier, Heatly, Hossa, etc...) or traded and resigned by their acquiring clubs. These guys are "true" proven first line players. Guys like that don't often get to the market (that's why guys like Thornton and Iginla were given extensions). Is it possible that one of them might hit the open market? of course. Would I put the Rangers plans to win a cup during the Jagr Window on hold to try to get one of those guys? No. Even if they do hit the market, competition for their services would be so fierce that it would be foolish to "expect" to sign them.
These guys are different then Gomez, Drury & Briere. Drury and Briere are not "true" first liners. Therefore, a team like Buffalo can and did balk at paying them franchise player money for a long time. Gomez might turn into a first rate point produce now that he'll be playing in a more open system. But the jury is still out on that. So again, I could see why Jersey can and did balk at paying him franchise player money for a long time. Heatley, Lecavalier, Hossa, etc.. have scored huge points for years. No one will have a problem paying them huge money which is why I don't see them getting to the market (just like Jumbo Joe and Iggy).
By the way, Crosby will be a restricted free agent, and TSN has been reporting for several days that the Pens are negotiating to lock him up to a long term extension. I only mentioned the 3 Penguins because I wouldn't be surprised if one of them becomes available via trade since the Pens would probably have a hard time resigning all of them to extensions.



I have a few comments on your post. I have a problem with the whole premise of it actually because it's based on Jagr. It's based on Jagr's health and happiness. This guy can play 80 games this year... or he can play 8! You can't control his health, but that doesn't mean you don't have to worry about it. His happiness you can control.

You wrote:

wouldn't it have been better to resign Nylander and then target either Drury or Gomez. Why sign both players for over $7m each? The savings we would have received by resigning Nylander could have been applied to a much needed defenseman.

That is actually what came to my mind when I heard about the Rangers double-signing. They got two quality players- I said before that I really like them both-especially based on the fact that they are both proven winners. But they took away an existing successful chemistry by not resigning Nylander and their defense is still a joke. If things don't go as planned we could see the return of a temperamental character I like to refer to as "Washington-Jagr".

As the old saying goes- if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The Rangers didn't have a problem scoring goals, they had a problem preventing goals. Imagine a Rangers team with Nylander, Gomez or Drury, and a stopper on defense. They could have signed Brendan Witt last year. They could have signed Scott Hannan this year. They could still trade for Jovo-Cop because everyone is talking about the fact that he is there for the taking.

Remember Buffalo last year? They won the Presidents Trophy. They were faster than the rangers will be this year. They could roll 4 lines of offense and always be a scoring threat and their goaltending was great. They were a thing of beauty during the regular season. But what happened to them during the playoffs? Same group of guys, different result. And when I look at Buffalo's defense from last year- it's better than the Rangers' this year. Don't get me wrong, the Rangers will be a very entertaining team this season. I just think they need to do something about their defense from now until the March trade deadline.

Lastly, I agree with Moss in regards to the new age minimum of free agency and how that will have an effect on player availablity. Players will sign where they feel like it because they can now demand more and do so at a younger age. The crazy thing is that I feel that although we're seeing longer contracts, we will actually see MORE player movement.

The Hockey Rabbi


I'm not overly concerned about Jagr's health. Although at his age anything is possible. That being said I definitely think the Rangers can and should go for it with Jagr at the wheel. As for his atitude, if he hasn't matured and he's still capable of morphing into that little girl, then he's not going to be able to lead us to a cup ayway. Personally, I think he's grown tremendously over the last few years and I believe he's very focused on winning another cup.

As far as the chemistry issue, I tend to agree with you. However, that will be the topic of an upcoming post so I'm not going to get into the details now.

As far as the defense goes, it's definitley the weakest link in the team. I wouldn't call it a "joke", though. The Rangers' goals against average in the second half of last season was amongst the best in the league. In my post I discuss why the team was correct in solidifying the center position ahead of the defense. I still stand by that and I don't think you've presented a convincing argument to the contrary (no disrespect, just calling it as I see it). Do you really belive that adding Brendan Witt, Joe Corvo, Scott Hannan or even Jovanovski would be better for this club than Drury? What about the players they'd have to trade to get Jovanovski.

As for the "if it aint broke don't fix it" piece about the Rangers adequate offense, I disagree. The Rangers offense revolved EXCLUSIVELY around Jagr. Take Jagr out of the equation and the Rangers had a pop gun offense at best. Nylander and Straka only did what they did because of Jagr. Ditto for Shanny (he didn't play with Jagr, however, teams focused on shutting down Jagr which gave Shanny a lot more room). Who else on the team was an offensive threat in their own right? No one. Everyone who watched the Rangers recognized that we needed help at the Center position. Straka (wh is not a natural center) was centering our second line. That doesn't work.

As far as the free agency thing, time will tell. But the reality of the league TODAY is that superstars are rarely lost for nothing. Perhaps that will change in the future, but I live in the present (or at least I try to!)

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