"I think we have better players than Sean Avery, plain and simple," said Tortorella, who has long questioned Avery's role, relegating him to the bench at the end of last season. "I can dodge it 10 different ways without trying to run Sean over -- I thought he had a good camp, but I think the makeup of our team and some of the people we've added and some of the youth we've added . . . put Sean in this spot. I wish him good luck in everything, but we've gone by that."
In the final year of a contract in which he was owed $1.93 million, Avery, 31, was battling for a spare forward's slot with center Erik Christensen, whom Tortorella said was deployable in more roles. "Sean is a player we have used as a banger and forechecker," Tortorella said. "We don't use him killing penalties or on the power play. With Erik, I can use him in a number of different spots."
If Avery isn't claimed by another NHL club by noon Wednesday, a likely scenario, he could be assigned to the AHL Connecticut Whale. His agent, Pat Morris, said his client was keeping his options open.
Avery, an irritant who has a history of crossing the line on the ice, and a bright fellow with interests in the fashion, entertainment and restaurant industries, was relatively successful under coach Tom Renney in his first stint in New York (23-40-63 in 86 games and 5-7-12 in 18 playoff games in 2007 and 2008).
He signed a four-year contract with Dallas, but it turned sour and was re-acquired by general manager Glen Sather on waivers when he was banished by the Stars on March 3, 2009.
The emergence of rugged forward Brandon Prust last season and the signing of free agent Michael Rupp diminished Avery's shrinking ice time. With opening night on Friday in Stockholm, the Rangers will be without All-Star Marc Staal -- sidelined with concussion-related headaches. Because of the relatively young defense, the Rangers are actively looking for reinforcements. "We've had conversations today," Tortorella said. "I think it has to happen pretty quickly if it does, and it could."
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