Man, you go away for the weekend, and things happen!
First of all, we came to a deal with Girardi. It pays $3.1 million this year and $3.4/year over each of the following three, for a cap hit of $3.325 for the next four seasons. That's a little higher than I'd like, but it's not terrible. On the grand scale of Prospal, Dubinsky, Callahan, Christensen, et cetera, it seems high. However, in the frame of Rozsival, Gilroy, Del Zotto, and probably Staal one day soon, it sounds reasonable. Maybe defensemen are just supposed to make more? Anyway, the deal is done, Girardi is locked up, and we move on.
Then, we made a trade: Aaron Voros (finally?) and prospect Ryan Hillier (a left wing) for Ducks D-man Steve Eminger. Eminger is 6'1", 202 lbs, and a fairly physical guy. The Rangers will be his 6th NHL team since the start of the 2007-2008 season, but I would swear I recall liking him when, if I recall him correctly from the ducks. He's supposed to be a hitting, shot-blocking, stay-at-the-goddamn-blue-line kinda guy, and I like that. He's 26 years old, entering the final year of his contract, which will pay him $1.5 million, but is back-loaded, so he's only a $1.125 million cap hit.
I like this move. We clearly didn't see much in Hillier (when do we ever see much in our prospects?), and Voros was never seeing the ice again (we all liked him, but he never did much). Let Voros try to find his game our West, and let us pick up another solid blue-liner.
Meanwhile, the Staal negotiations apparently continue. Word is that the Rangers are trying to lock him down for 6 years, and that he's trying to earn himself a good million dollars more than Girardi. That's not entirely unreasonable. As I've said, I'd rather see Girardi around $2.5 million and Staal around $3.5, but if they're each $750,000 above that, I'm not gonna lose any sleep over it.
There should at this point be no one left worrying that Staal will not be a New York Ranger on day one this year. Sather has gone on record saying we will match any offer sheet Staal is given, and that's really Staal's only negotiating power here. This was a wily statement, actually: it discourages teams from actually sending Staal any offers, a fact which gives the Rangers even more leverage in negotiations with him. Personally, I therefore wouldn't be surprised if this standoff holds out for another little while, showing Staal he's not getting any offer sheets, before we finally lock him down. I imagine we'll get the six years we're looking for, and I imagine the length of the contract and lack of offer sheets will keep Staal happy without the money getting too crazy. I expect this contract will end up at $4-4.5 million.
Oops, before I get into this last thing, I forgot to mention last week that we signed defensive prospect Ryan McDonagh to a 3-year contract with an annual salary of $875,000 and potential annual bonuses up to another $425,000. It seems we're giving him every opportunity to be a real Ranger this season, and our defensive corps getting younger, again, can't be a bad thing. McDonagh is 21, 6'1", 200 lbs. Sorry, I really thought I'd written about that - I just totally forgot to.
Anyway, this sure starts to sound like Redden says hello to Hartford, doesn't it? The fools over at SNY Rangers Blog, who tend to have accurate, quick facts about every story, coupled with terrible italicized opinions, are confused about why the Rangers have so many defensemen now. But, they also think Redden deserves another chance (No, really, they said that. I can't find the post right now. Gold Star to anyone who does. But, they said that). Well I'm not all that confused.
Without Redden, we're looking at the following seven as our top-6 plus one to rotate in: Rozsival, Staal, Girardi, Gilroy, McDonagh, Eminger, Del Zotto. That's...actually pretty good, all things considered. If we assume we sign Staal for a $4.25 million hit, those seven amass a total cap hit of $17,837,500. This is all completely reasonable. You know what's not reasonable? Thinking Wade Redden has a place among those other seven, increasing our entire defensive corps's cap hit by over 36% (to $24,337,500). Why would we do that, when we have seven other, better choices, for less money? I say we bring up McDonagh, sign Staal around $4 million, and send Redden packing. We do this, we actually have a pretty good squad of defensemen, at pretty reasonable prices.
More thoughts on total cap space will come here on this very blog after the Staal thing is resolved. But, for your reading pleasure, here are two pieces in which Larry Brooks makes a case that the Rangers should pursue Ilya Kovalchuk. The argument basically boils down to "who the hell else are we saving that money for?" It's a valid point, though with offers on the table like the laughed-at Kings' 12 years/$63.6 million and the reliably-reported-yet-completely-unbelievable Devils' 17 years/something over $100 million, are we really interested in jumping into this game? 17 years from now, Ilya Kovalchuk will be 44, and we will all own flying cars.
Well, the LeBron James of hockey will be making his decision sometime this week. I look forward to the announcement, less for which team he signs on with, and more so I can laugh at the absurd contract length and salary he will no doubt be receiving. I also look forward to more moves by the Rangers, who so far (despite overpaying Girardi and Boogaard by a total of a little over a million dollars) have had a fairly smart off-season.