With so many UFA's still out there, let's begin with addressing the defense and what the Rangers currently are looking at for the 2009 - 10 campaign.
The Rangers currently have Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Michal Rozsival, and Wade Redden under contract.
Consider that Redden at $6.5 million and Rozsival at $5 million are your top pairing. Not necessarily in skill, but for the purposes of price bracketing.
Top line talent commands about $5 million per player.
Secondary talent, should be not quite half of that. Girardi at $1.6 million and Staal at $825,000 are both well below that, but are scheduled to become RFA's after this season.
So the Rangers need to fill their remaining three spots on defense in that $1 - 2 million range in anticipation of both Staal and Girardi's pay increases.
Matt Gilroy, the 2009 Hobey Baker winner, is owed approximately $1.75 million this season and next.
The Rangers also have Mike Sauer ($850,000) and Corey Potter (recently qualified as an RFA) that could step into the lineup.
However, the Rangers can't rely upon that many rookie defenseman in an NHL lineup so expect management to look for a veteran defenseman before the season begins.
Steve Zipay over at Newsday is reporting that the Rangers are still considering Derek Morris, yet he would likely need to accept less than last year's $3.25 million.
Paul Mara is also still available and should command around $2.5 million.
Other names still unsigned include former Rangers Sergei Zubov and Matheiu Schneider, as well as recently waived Jay McKee, Martin Skoula, and Marc-Andre Bergeron.
In the next week or so, expect these players to sign as the top-tiered defensemen are all off the market. Larry Brooks of the NY Post has heard rumblings of Zubov, but his age could be a factor. Skoula and Bergeron at 29 years old bring a lot to the table, but may lack the experience to lead this group.
It should get interesting so stay tuned...
- Greg Moore has signed with the New York Islanders. He joins Thomas Pock on the list of recent Ranger prospects to sign east.
- Brad Richards of the Dallas Stars may have an opportunity to join friend Sean Avery and former coach John Tortorella on Broadway. However, it will come at a steep price given his $7.8 million salary.
- Could Saku Koivu or Mats Sundin center Marian Gaborik? Perhaps, but let's hope we don't have to go through the Sundin run around again.
- Former Ranger Alex Kovalev signing in Ottawa almost assures that Dany Heatley will be dealt. However, if he doesn't want to go to Edmonton, where will he end up? Can't imagine the Rangers are still considering this one.
- Blast from the past: Manny Malhotra, Mike York, Jed Ortmeyer, Dan LaCouture, are all still on the UFA front. Could any see a return on Broadway? Probably not.