Glen Sather isn't forced to make the big deal
Arthur StapleArthur Staple
Staple, with Newsday since 1997, has covered high school
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Glen Sather has gone for the big splash often as Rangers president and general manager. Even as he's reined in his desire for remaking his team every off-season, there have been plenty of noteworthy moves -- signing Marian Gaborik three summers ago, making Brad Richards the highest-paid player in the league last summer.
So the allure of trading some of the assets Sather and his staff have patiently accumulated over the last few seasons for a big name like the Blue Jackets' Rick Nash or the Ducks' Bobby Ryan, or going for another bank run to offer the Devils' Zach Parise a front-loaded contract when July 1 comes, is very tempting to Sather.
There is also Wisconsin defenseman Justin Schultz, who becomes a free agent Monday morning. He would be another big addition without any subtraction besides money, the sort Sather and the Rangers can afford.
The big trade splash didn't happen here this weekend. Nash is still a disgruntled Blue Jacket because Sather wouldn't include Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan or Ryan McDonagh in any trade talks. Ditto Ryan, who would cost less but still too much at this point.
The market has yet to open, even though Parise has said there's no way he'd sign up with the Rangers.
Would it be so bad if Sather resisted temptation this summer? He claimed on Saturday that he would "love to bring back all our guys from last year." That won't happen, with Brandon Prust's $2 million a year contract demands pricing him into the open market, and Ruslan Fedotenko likely departing as well.
But the main core -- which includes Brandon Dubinsky for now, despite his being the clear choice to go in any deal for a forward -- is intact. Sather said Michael Sauer, whose presence would have made a huge difference in the playoff run, is "doing a little better" in his slow recovery from a December concussion; if Sauer can return at all next season, that addition is better than anything Sather could find on the open market for a quality defenseman.
"We made some pretty good strides last year," Sather said. "After we lost that first game in Sweden, I don't think we were predicting we'd be in the conference finals. And we did it with a really good group of guys."
The Rangers need more scoring, especially if there are smooth labor talks and the season opens in October -- Gaborik will still need a month or more to heal from recent rotator-cuff surgery.
But this is not a team with glaring holes anymore and Sather -- with a big assist from the likes of Gordie Clark, Jeff Gorton and coach John Tortorella, among others -- can take credit for how the Rangers have developed over the last three years.
His best moves have been not making too many. If the Rangers come away with only a couple of depth additions this summer, then it's on Kreider, Stepan, Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan, to name a few, to either continue their fine starts (Kreider), improve on some good play (Stepan/Callahan) or return with a vengeance to be better (Dubinsky).
It took Sather nearly a decade running the Rangers to realize there are no quick fixes. Now that his team has gotten closer to the top, it may be time to remember that maxim once more.