This has been one strange off-season and if you are a New York Ranger fan it is made even stranger when it is not the Rangers making all of the questionable moves.
Really you have to like what has happened with the Ranger so far. They started by moving Ethan Werek for Oscar Lindberg, they gave up some offense to get back a better overall 2 way center who down the road will be their key face off center.
Then giving up Roman Horak and 2 second round picks, they wind up with Tim Erixon who was the 23rd pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Erixon adds that much more to the Ranger's biggest strengths which is their blueline.
The draft saw the Rangers address their needs by adding 3 pretty good centers, a heart and soul player but it is their 6th round pick that could pay off big as Peter Ceresnak is another big body for the blueline.
Ceresnak's biggest flaw is in his skating but better it be skating which is a lot easier to fix than decision making or stone hands. Still a 6th round pick is a worthwhile gamble.
It sounds cold and even cruel but buying out Chris Drury is improving the team by subtracting that huge salary of his. The NHL is like all sports which is "what have you done for me lately?"
If you want to look at it as Drury for Brad Richards then it makes the Drury move that much easier to accept as Drury may still have the heart but his body is betraying him at age 34.
Yes I dislike the length of the Brad Richards contract, I dislike any contract which has a no movement clause to it but the deed is now done so complaining about it is a waste of time. For Richard's sake as well as the Rangers, one has to hope that this move does work out because if does not then heaven help the Rangers and their fans.
Adding in Mike Rupp as the replacement for Derek Boogaard is another move that is hard not to accept since it is an upgrade over Boogaard. Yes I know speaking ill of the deceased is not cool but let us all be honest here.
Nobody wanted Boogaard's contract to begin with and his passing silenced the calls for Boogaard to be dumped. Saying this may not be politically correct but it is the truth, Boogaard was not an asset to the Rangers.
When healthy Boogaard was a non-factor who had lost the confidence of his coach. Rupp despite being 3 years older gives the Rangers a player who can do more than just fight.
Sorry if it bugs you but reality is cruel at times and Boogaard was going to have a very hard time finding ice time had he been able to come back. Rupp is an upgrade who takes the burden of being the team enforcer off Brandon Prust.
That alone is worth the price for Rupp as Prust is a middleweight not a heavyweight and Prust proved he was also a legit player not just a guy who drops his gloves. Now the Rangers can get more out of him than seeing him fight.
Toss in the return of Rusian Fedotenko for another year means the Rangers do not have to rush Carl Hagelin to the NHL. Fedotenko if you look at it is the ideal role player who will allow John Tortorella flexibility in the case of injuries or slumps.
The summer will be perfect once Glen Sather gets all the RFAs signed but it is hard not to be concerned that once training camp comes and Sather dumps some salary to the AHL that he saves it rather than spends it.
If Sather can stash some money away to be used at the trading deadline or even better in case the salary cap shrinks then the Rangers will be in a much better position for tomorrow.
Sather is no fool as he knows that Richards is going to force him to make sure they do more than compete for the 8th seed. For the most part Sather enjoyed support of many a Ranger fan in going after Richards but that support will disappear in a heartbeat if the Rangers finish lower than 6th.
Thankfully Sather got some unexpected help from several of his fellow GMs not only in the Atlantic division but the Eastern conference as well. Who spiked the kool-aid as the whisper line has veteran hockey people scratching their heads at some of the moves in the last 3 days.
The Philadelphia Flyers reacted to being swept by Boston by trading off their captain as well as their leading goal scorer. Yes the Flyers got some young promising talent in return but you do not take 59 goals out of your lineup and not feel it.
If people want to talk about overpaying then first look at what the Flyers paid for Ilya Bryzgalov; 9 years 51 million for a goalie that really when he shows up is at best the 5th rated goalie in the Atlantic Division.
Other than wins Bryzgalov does not come close to Henrik Lundqvist but the Flyers think that goaltending was the reason they got swept. Keep thinking that fellas as come crunch time Bryzgalov will fare no better than what you had last year.
And seriously turning the team over to 37 year old Chris Pronger for leadership is really not going to make life in the Flyer locker room any better than it was with Mike Richards as the leader. Doubt anyone who is a Ranger fan is going to shed any tears when the Flyers wake up and find themselves fighting it out for last place.
The Devils are well the Devils as other than the insanity known as the Ilya Kovalchuk contract, the Devils still have not found a coach but Marty Brodeur is 39 and the slippage in his game is starting to show.
The Devils have themselves in a big hole thanks to the Kovalchuk deal and as pretty as a second half that they had in 2010-11; they will not be able to repeat it.
That Lou Lamoriello had to file for arbitration just to be able to keep Zach Parise is a drastic change from the days when he got players to take lower salaries to remain as a Devils.
Odds are that the Devils will hire a coach who will be fired before the end of March no matter what their record is. Maybe it is time for the Devils ownership to start thinking that maybe it is more than their starting goalie who should be thinking about retiring.
The Penguins remain the top dogs in the Atlantic Division as they were good despite losing both Crosby and Malkin to injuries. They lost Maxime Talbot which honestly was not a big deal but the bigger blow they got is more psychological than anything else.
One would think the world was coming to an end that Jagr choose the Flyers over the Penguins. Think the Penguin fans should be more worried about the Crosby concussion than what a 900 year old Jagr is going to do.
That leaves the Islanders and to be fair, if you are a younger free agent you really should consider these guys. They are getting an unfair rap because Evgeni Nabokov and Christian Erhrhoff did not want any part of them.
Truth be told going after both players were mistakes to begin with as moves like adding a Marty Reasoner is what they should be doing. They have a very good young core foundation on the Island and it will not surprise us in any way that both Nino Niederreiter and Kirill Kabanov are on the opening night roster.
But the rest of the NHL has lost their minds as yes Buffalo has a new owner who wanted to show he could spend money. Have him call us when he learns how to spend it wisely because he overpaid for every single transaction the Sabres made.
Welcome to the NHL Terry Pegula but sometimes your best moves are the ones where you leave your Visa Card at home. Florida had to go on a spending spree just to make the base minimum of the CBA but seriously guys 16 million to 35 year old Ed Jovanovski and trading for Brian Campbell's contract?
When Gary Bettman blames the players for why he is once again locking them out in 2012 point at the Florida Panthers, the Buffalo Sabres, the Colorado Avalanche, and the Columbus Bluejackets and ask where was their common sense in the summer of 2011?
To think that Ranger fans were worried about what Glen Sather was going to do on July 1st. Compared to most of the NHL, Sather looked like he was clipping coupons to save money.
Glen Sather as the responsible General Manager sounds very scary after all this time but here is to hoping we all feel as good about the franchise on July 1, 2012.
(Glen Sather courtesy of the New York Rangers)
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