By no means did the Rangers make a big splash on the first day of free agency, and that’s probably for the best. With a team still crunched by the salary cap, the Rangers made 3 moves that added depth to a team that had lost its identity last year.
With highly coveted free agents hitting the market today and earning big money for long terms, the Rangers were wise to stay out of the opening hour of free agency where 330 million dollars was spent by NHL teams. Many believed that Matt Martin or Thomas Vanek were high on the Rangers priority list come free agency. With Nash, Staal, and Girardi staying put during the draft, it became an unrealistic goal to be able to sign any big free agents come July 1. Earlier this morning Eric Staal signed with the Wild and Stalberg signed with Carolina, deleting some depth players on the roster. Matt Martin was able to sign a 4 year contract worth 2.5 million a year with the Maple Leafs, while Vanek was able to ink a one year deal worth 2.6 million with the Red Wings. Both contracts too pricy for the New York Rangers. Instead Gorton opted to sign 3 depth players that ended up costing us only 2.85 million on this years cap.
Michael Grabner was the first addition by GM Gorton today. We can all recall Grabner for the time he spent in the Islanders organization. Grabner adds speed and special teams, mostly PK work, to a team that watched its PK percentage plummet to 26th overall during the course of the regular season. Grabner is 29 years old and is capable of lighting the lamp scoring 34 goals his first year on the island and 20 goals following that. More recently he scored 9 goals and 9 assists with the Maple Leafs in 80 games last year. Grabner is an offensive threat on the PK and has scored 12 shorthanded goals in the last 6 seasons. Grabner Signed a 2 year deal worth 1.65 million per.
The second addition today was Nathan Gerbe. The small, 5 foot 5 inch NHL forward was signed to a one year deal worth 600k. Gerbe spent most of his NHL time with the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes and is a proven penalty kill player who adds a bit of spark to any line. The feisty winger has proven he can be productive in the NHL but will have to prove his worth against a few young talented players in order to join the Rangers fourth line.
The third player added was defenseman Adam Clendening who has spent most of his days on various AHL/NHL clubs looking to find his game. The young, right-handed defenseman was signed in a 2 way deal worth 600K in the NHL and 300K in the AHL for one year. He will likely become the 8th defenseman for the NYR.
I suspect the NYR are most likely done this off-season. Baring any major deal that includes Nash, Staal, or Girardi the opening day roster will look similar to what is listed below.
Nash – Brass – Zucc
Kreider – Step – Miller
Buch – Hayes -Grabner
Glass – Lindberg – Fast
Extra: Nathan Gerbe
Mac – G
Staal – Klein
Holden – Skjei
Extra: Dylan McIlrath
I suspect there will be some competition on the bottom 6 forwards and a healthy portion of rotating in and out to find the right player combination throughout the entire season. Buckle up Ranger fans, this year will be an up and down fight to make the playoffs, especially with teams around us getting better.
Update 5:05 PM
Ranger have signed AHL defenseman Michael Paliotta. The 6’4, 23 year old defenseman, played 68 games in the Columbus AHL system last year and will add depth to our defense in Hartford.