54° Good Morning
54° Good Morning

On Day 1, mixed results for Rangers, who aren't done


        OK, quick recap

        Biron, veddy nice get.

        Prospal, value.

        Christensen, counting on him to improve.

        Boogaard, feels like Sather was forced into it.

        Once Sather didn't want to pay Jody Shelley, 34, $3.3 million for three years (over-35 cap hit would have stuck even with buyout), Boogaard was deemed the best and toughest option. Not the most talented, mind you.

        As I wrote, $1.65 million a year for four years seems excessive for a one-dimensional player who likely will play less than 40 games, and given the Brashear debacle, which is fresh in memory on the ice and the payroll, ouch.

        But Boogaard is 28, and if he flops, there is the minors/buyout option, say in 2012.  IMO, he will deter the running of Lundqvist, protect Gabby and others, and presumably, with Prust, defend home ice, which the Rangers are going to need. Yeah, the Pens and Devils got stronger on defense, so did Philly to some extent, but the Flys remain questionable in goal.

           Again, I firmly believe that nobody's done. There's still time for trades, and for all the whining about not having spots for youngsters, well, there may be in October and beyond. In Sather's pocket is the option of demoting Wade Redden and creating cap space.   And don't forget the potential deals with some cap space available at the trade deadline.

          Listen, the Rangers, in the middle of the season were 31-32. They don't yet have the stuff of Stanley Cup contenders. They're hamstrung financially. Repeat: Hamstrung.

          But they didn't get weighed down with tens of millions in more immovable contracts. Ottawa and Gonchar? Oy. There was no quick, one-day fix. You're deluding yourselves if you thought that could happen when they decided to re-sign Staal and Girardi. And how many of you out there would have whined about trading prospects? Could they have done better today? Sure. 

           But think about Calgary: Jokinen?  Yes, they still might need another forward and  a veteran d. There's summer cap space. Hell, they could use another offensive star to make a deep run this season and the only star out there is Kovy and really, a bidding war with LA?

          Maybe Stepan or Grachev or McDonagh steps up during the season. Let's discuss it all tomorrow at 2 in the live chat, OK?

          Amazing jump in twitter followers today by the way, closing in on 3,100. And way more than 10,000 page views. I bow, hands pressed together. Humbly. Stick around, OK?  We'll rock on good or bad...Hey, it's hockey, right?


            Here's my story for the paper and a chart of today's signees.

             For three weeks last July, goaltender Martin Biron waited by the phone at his home near Buffalo for an offer from an NHL team. Yesterday, it took just a few minutes.
             “I’m planning on being the best insurance policy in the league,” said Biron, who signed a two-year, $1.75 million deal to play 15-20 games spelling Henrik Lundqvist and be reunited with Rangers goaltending coach Benoit Allaire.   

             “When I was, 14, 1,5 years old, Benoit and Francois (Allaire’s brother) had a camp north of Montreal,” said Biron, 32. “I went there one year as a student, another as a teacher. I had a conversation with (former goaltender) Sean Burke last year when we were in Phoenix and what it meant for him to work with Benoit, how it changed him and his game. It’s something that stuck with me.”
              “We were looking for a fit, looking for a place to feel comfortable to regain what I lost over the last year and a half, two years,” said Biron, a popular teammate on the Island. “I went into my first year in Philadelphia extremely confident and ran into some roadblocks. I felt I lost a little bit of an edge. Going here, it’s the right way to get back to where I was.”
               Or at least to the way he finished with the Islanders. “It was a tough season,” the 13-year veteran said. “Early on, I felt I was playing well but I wasn’t getting the results. Then, for a month, starting around the new year, I was watching from the press box many nights. That’s extremely hard… after the Olympic break, I went 7-0-2 and really got my confidence back but I felt the damage had been done. I want to make sure I start the season the way I finished the season.”
           Derek Boogaard, 28, the team’s other new face signed yesterday, along with returnees Vinny Prospal, (1-year deal for $1 million plus performance bonuses) and Erik Christensen, (two years for $1.85 million) generally finishes what he starts.
           When Rangers president Glen Sather declined to offer Jody Shelley, 34, a three-year deal because of his age, he targeted the six-foot-seven enforcer Boogaard. Edmonton and at least one other team wanted Boogaard, but he grabbed the four-year, $6.6 million Rangers offer.
             “Me and Gabby go back from when the team (the Wild) drafted me when I was 19,” said Boogaard. “It was sad to see him go last year. New York, when you’re on the ice out there, you’re on center stage. You can’t hide that. You’ve got to play to the best of your abilities and I’m ready to do that. To be able to play with Gabby again was definitely a push to be in New York.”
             Boogaard had nine bouts last season and 105 penalty minutes, which is the jam Sather wanted, apparently at whatever price. “Last year, there were too many times when I saw guys scraping snow into Henrik’s face and I didn’t like it,” said Sather. “I don’t think you’ll see that now.”


Martin Biron. Goaltender, 32. Two years, $1.75 million. The 6-foot-3 netminder will be a bargain as a backup. Career numbers: 208-176-25, 2.63 GAA, .910 save percentage. 
Derek Boogaard. UFA Left wing, 28. Four years, $6.6 million. Unwilling to give Jody three year deal (Flyers did, for $3.3 million over 3 years), Rangers opted for bigger, younger deterrent. The 6-7 enforcer, who made $1.2 million last season, has 522 penalty minutes in 255 NHL games. Also has gone 222 games without scoring a goal for the Wild, the NHL’s longest active streak.
Erik Christensen. Center, 26.  Two years, $1.95 million. Rejected first offer of about $1.5 million. Was 8-18-26 in 49 games after being claimed off waivers from Anaheim last Dec. 2.
Vinny Prospal. Center/Left Wing, 35. One year, $1 million, plus performance bonuses. Returns for second year; scored 20 goals, added 38 assists in his first season here.
Derek Stepan. Center, 20. Three-year, entry-level deal. Minnesota native opted to leave Wisconsin after sophomore year. Captain of U.S. gold medal team in World Juniors, led tournament with 18 points.  Drafted in 51st overall in 2008.


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