Red, White and Blueshirts


Just Checking In
July 10, 2009, 6:28 pm
Filed under: Free Agency

I’m currently on vacation in New Orleans but I just wanted to bring you some news. The Rangers have re-signed RFA F Dane Byers. Terms were undisclosed. Also, Paul Mara has signed a one year deal with the Montreal Canadiens.



Ales Is More: Rangers Sign Kotalik (UPDATED)

The Rangers have come to terms with UFA right wing Ales Kotalik. Terms of the deal are not yet known.

Kotalik, the 6-2, 227 lb. , 30 year old winger from the Czech Republic has scored 20 or more goals four times in his 7 seasons in the NHL and posted 20 goals and 23 assists in 75 games while sharing time with the Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers last season. He has also played 21 games for the Czech National team during his career.

Props to Brian Monzo of SNYRangers Blog  for breaking this story…..More details to follow…

UPDATED (6:45 PM)- The terms of the contract are reported to be 3 years 9 million dollars (3.0 per). Here is the official release from the team. This signing would seem to signal the end for Nikolai Zherdev on Broadway as it looks more and more like the Rangers will walk away from the arbitration award.



Free Agency Rumblings (UPDATED)

There are some rumblings on the free agency front this morning concerning the Rangers. The most surprising news comes from The Fourth Period where Derek Morris’ agent says that he has spoken several times with the Rangers and that they are still interested in bringing Morris back to Broadway. The agent also says that length of contract isn’t as important to Morris as feeling comfortable where he plays. Morris seemed to have nothing but good things to say during his brief tenure here last season so this situation may bear watching if Morris would be willing to accept a one or two year deal for probably less than the 3.25 million he made last year.

Derek Morris

Derek Morris

Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg is close to re-signing with the team for a reported 3 years at around 9 million dollars. This will almost surely (along with the Marian Hossa and Cam Barker signings) force the Hawks to make a trade and move some money as they still have to sign a backup goaltender to Cristobal Huet and are right against the cap for next season. The prevailing thought is that forward Patrick Sharp could be made available. If this happens, the Rangers should put in a call to GM Dale Tallon to see what it would take to bring him to NY. Sharp is a talented and young (27) winger who excels in front of the net on the power play (something the Rangers lack in their current forward group) and makes a reasonable  (by current standards) 3.9 million per season. He could probably be had for a prospect and a pick considering the Hawks current cap situation.

For the full Morris article on The Fourth Period click here. For some theories on what the Rangers might do to fill up the remaining spots on their blueline, Dan Akeson brings up  Marc Andre Bergeron, Mathieu Schneider and some other UFA options here.

Remember if any news breaks, we’ll bring it to you right here.

UPDATE (2:10 PM)- The Rangers have come to terms with restricted free agent Brian Boyle , whom they acquired from the Kings on Draft Day. Specifics of the contract were not disclosed. In other news, Saku Koivu has signed a one year 3.25 million dollar deal with the Anaheim Ducks.



Blue Monday (Updated)

While rumors continue to swirl about whether the Rangers are interested in pursuing Saku Koivu, Alexei Kovalev or Sergei Zubov, nothing seems to be imminent on that front. The most interesting news out of Rangers camp is that forwards Nikolai Zherdev and Ryan Callahan have both elected to take the team to salary arbitration for the upcoming season. I believe the Rangers would like to get Callahan under contract long term and will probably be able to do so and avoid a hearing with a deal that is both cap friendly and will make Callahan feel appreciated. The bigger story is Zherdev’s status. There have been reports of Zherdev having interest in returning to Russia to play in the KHL and of possible concerns within the Rangers organization over whether Zherdev can perform and co-exist with head coach John Tortorella in his new up tempo system. There are even indications that the team may walk away from the winger (making him and unrestricted free agent) should he be awarded a contract that does not fit into the team’s salary plans for next season. There is still a chance that the team comes to terms with the enigmatic yet talented winger before arbitration but it seems unlikely and this situation may turn ugly before a resolution is ultimately reached.

Nikolai Zherdev

Nikolai Zherdev

In other more positive news, Zherdev and prospect Artem Anisimov were invited to participate in the upcoming 2010 Russian Olympic Orientation camp. The invitation is a another sign that Anisimov (who registered 37 goals and 44 assists with Hartford of the AHL last season) may be well on his way to making an impact with the big club this upcoming season. Former Rangers Dmitri Kalinin and Alexei Kovalev were invited as well.

If any news breaks, we will be here to report it today and tomorrow will be the first of our Prospect Spotlight series which will feature NYR youngsters that the team is counting on to make an impact in the organization’s future.

For an explanation of the salary arbitration process and which facts teams and players are allowed and forbidden to use to make their cases, check out Blue Notes here. For more on possible Rangers target UFA Alexei Kovalev and his somewhat contentious departure from the Canadiens, check out TSN here.

UPDATE (2:30 PM) TSN.ca is reporting Christopher Higgins has come to terms with the New York Rangers on a new contract. Higgins, acquired from Montreal for Scott Gomez, was a restricted free agent. ESPN is reporting it is a one year deal worth $2.25 million.

UPDATE (4:25 PM) Apparently, Alexei Kovalev will not be making a return to Broadway as he has signed a 2 year 10 million dollar deal with the Ottawa Senators. For more details click here.



FREE AGENCY DAY 3: ALL QUIET IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE

The third day of free agency has been slow as the Rangers have been pretty quiet. There are a few reports circulating that Glen Sather has been working the phones trying to acquire a No. 1 center to complement newly acquired winger Marian Gaborik, as well as a power play quarterback to man the blue line next season but nothing has materialized as of yet. Another report says the Rangers have been in contact with Montreal Canadiens stalwart Saku Koivu about possibly signing on to bring his emotionally charged game to Broadway but that New Jersey, Los Angeles and Minnesota (where Saku’s brother Mikko plays) are also very interested in securing his services.

For some observations from the Rangers’ week long prospect development camp, check out Steve Zipay’s Blue Notes and for some comments from Marian Gaborik about his joining the blueshirts click here and here.



FREE AGENCY DAY 2: ANTROPOV GONE, DEPTH FOR THE WOLFPACK

While the Rangers were quiet on the second day of free agency, a few notable moves took place. The first being the departure of Rangers winger Nik Antropov, who was acquired at last season’s trade deadline, when he signed a 4 year 16 million dollar deal with the Atlanta Thrashers. The Rangers had some interest in getting Antropov to return to the team early on but after Sather spoke to his agent and was told Antropov was seeking more than 5 million annually, the team instead turned it’s attention to the other options available both already on the roster (qualifying Nikolai Zherdev for next season) and in free agency (Gaborik). Some question whether the Rangers would have been able to fit Antropov into their plans at the 4 million per year he eventually signed for if they had not given Donald Brashear such a ridiculous 2 year contract but I believe that both sides had already felt it was better to move on to newer pastures.

The Rangers also signed a trio of depth forwards that are almost certainly destined to begin the season with the team’s affiliate, the Hartford Wolfpack. Tyler Arnason, a defensive forward and NHL veteran having spent time with the Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalance was signed to a two way contract and could get a chance to make the fourth line of the big club during training camp. Chris Chappell, an undrafted free agent who scored 38 goals and added 38 assists for Owen Sound of the OHL last season and Corey Locke, who lead the AHL’s Houston Aeros in scoring last season were signed to minor league deals. The Rangers also re-signed P.A. Parentau who plated for the Wolfpack last season.

For the official releases on these signings, click here: Arnason, Locke, Chappell, Parentau.



FREE AGENCY DAY 1: The Gift of GAB

After making only a tiny ripple during the first few hours with their signing of tough guy/cheap shot artist/scourge of Ranger fans Donald Brashear to a 2 year 2.8 million dollar pact, The Rangers made the big splash in the free agency pool that everyone had been waiting for later in the day when the team agreed to terms with superstar winger Marian Gaborik on a 5 year 37.5 million dollar deal to bring him to the Garden.

The Brashear signing was met with mostly anger and disbelief from the blueshirt faithful as this was the same player who ended Blair Betts season prematurely during last year’s playoffs with a cheap shot elbow that broke Betts’ orbital bone. Brashear has been a lightning rod for controversy in the past with his endless taunts and late hits of Rangers players such as Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan and others. GM Glen Sather explained the signing of this seemingly past his prime, one dimensional enforcer as a necessity after losing fan favorite and character guy Colton Orr to the Maple Leafs (4 years @ 1 million per) earlier in the day.

The bigger and more welcomed news came as the frenzy of early signings seemed to be slowing down, The Rangers announced they had come to terms with the Minnesota Wild’s all time leading scorer, winger Marian Gaborik on a 5 year deal. Gaborik is one of the NHL’s fastest and most dynamic talents and is a threat to score every time he is on the ice(a component the Rangers haven’t had since the departure of Jagr). The only question mark concerning Gaborik is his history of hip and groin injuries which have kept the mercurial winger out for extended periods over the last few seasons. According to GM Sather, the team has been in touch with the surgeon who performed Gaborik’s hip surgery (the same doctor who performed A-Rod’s surgery) last season and also had their doctor’s look over the reports and everything came up clear before they decided to make the commitment. Gaborik is a world class talent who has scored 40 goals in a season once and reached the 30 goal plateau in 5 of his 8 professional seasons. If he can stay healthy, he brings to the Garden a dynamic one on one presence that will excite the fans and put pucks in the net on a consistent basis. He is a game changing forward. If the injuries persist and Gaborik can’t stay out of the trainer’s room, this will be a long season and the Rangers might be stuck with another albatross of a contract but all indications and hope from the front office point towards the opposite being the case.

Rangers Newest Forward Marian Gaborik

Rangers Newest Forward Marian Gaborik

To see the official releases of both signings, click the links here: Brashear and Gaborik