A look at what the Rangers could do.
The Rangers after 8 years of spending big cash on aging veteran players, they have finally decided to end the madness and start from scratch. They are now focused on building through the draft and giving the chance for their young prospects to play and rebuild the entire organization. All of this is a real good thing for the organization as it could give the Rangers in a few years quite a strong young team that will be competitive and that would have grown together.
However, I think the Rangers can spend a bit of cash as they have it to spend. In the past it was not spent wisely but I think the moves I am going to suggest would be wise investments and would make the team not only competitive now but also would still keep them a young up and coming franchise.
First of all I would definitely sign Demitra. The guy is a very productive player as he has scored at least 20 goals in each of the last 7 years, he averages just under a point a game for his career and at age 29 he is far from being over the hill and is in the middle of his prime. He would be a good guy to centre a line with Jagr and perhaps play with young Balej who could use the fellow Slovak as a mentor.
Secondly, I would acquire Sykora and Salei from Anaheim in exchange for Baranka, Fardeleau and Lundmark plus a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick. The Ducks are looking to trim payroll so the Rangers who can afford to take on contracts should take advantage of this. The Ducks dont mind getting in return some young talent. Lundmark hasnt quite panned out in New York as some have hoped but he is still a good young talent who maybe could use the change in scenery. The Rangers are fairly deep in young defencemen led by Tyutin so giving up Baranka can be done. And the Ducks could use the size of Fardeleau as they are a rather small team. Now you ask why give up young talent when you are rebuilding? well Sykora at age 28 is not an aging veteran player and neither is Salei at age 30. Sykora brings them a winner, a player with lots of speed and skill, and a good sniper to a team in need of goalscorers. Salei brings decent size and sandpaper to a blueline that is lacking it and his experience will be a big help to what could be a young defence in New York. These 2 guys are players the Rangers can keep for a while and would be a huge asset to help guide the other youngsters in the organization.
Third, I would trade Blackburn to the Leafs for Antropov, Tellqvist and Belak. See both Blackburn and Antropov have had similar paths to the NHL. both were relatively high first rounders, both started their NHL careers earlier than expected, both have had serious injuries, both have had their development time messed up due to either injuries or mismanagement and both have alot of talent and alot to offer still in their young careers. Now I know most of you Ranger fans are going to cry bloody murder because you feel that Blackburn is a frontline goalie who is a franchise player. Well right now I and probably others would think that he is not quite in the class of a Fleury or a Luongo. But granted he is a good goalie prospect. If the Rangers felt that highly of him, they would have most certainly filled other needs at the draft instead of drafting Montoya. But the Rangers were smart to draft Montoya to give them more assets. and with those assets in goal they could make this trade that would fill many needs the Rangers have. Antropov is still a developing player. he got better last year because he was more healthier and he learned quite a bit from Nieuwendyk. Granted he has some work left ahead of him but he is heading into the right direction. And considering he is 6’6 and only 24 years old, he would fill a need for a big forward who could play in the top 2 lines and he would fit in team wise as he is young and still growing as a player. his versatility would help them alot too as he can fill in at wing or centre. he also has a bit of a mean streak in him, more like a dirty streak as he tends to cheap shot and take penalties alot. but if he can channel that, he would be an effective physical forward for New York. And here he would get more quality playing time. Tellqvist would give the rangers a bit of a better option as backup than Labarbera. It would at least give them a bit of competition for the backup role and some depth at the minor pro level. with Dunham at number one and Tellqvist and Labarbera just behind, it would allow Montoya and Lundqvist to develop properly and get lots of playing time wherever they are and not be rushed into service.
Belak fills a need as the teams policeman. being able to play defence and forward is a huge plus as well. and being only 28, he can fill that role for a while yet. and whatever position he plays, he brings size and toughness to it which the Rangers lack. every team needs such a role player and he would fit the role nicely in New York.
I believe the deal would be worth it for both teams. The Leafs need a top goalie prospect to take over Belfour and the rangers need some more depth. A change in scenery sometimes helps a player and that may be what Antropov and Blackburn need for their careers. and look, the Rangers wont get a superstar like a Primeau or a St Louis for Blackburn, but they do get 3 decent players who would fill needs with the team and fit into their rebuilding.
so with these moves the Rangers would be in pretty good shape.
Forwards: Demitra, Balej, Jagr, Holik, Antropov, Belak, Sykora, Betts, MGreen, Ortmeyer, Scott
Almost ready Prospects: Murray, Moore, Prucha, Giroux
Down the road prospects: Dane Byers, Jarko Immonen, Hugh Jessiman, Lauri Korpikowski, Darin Olver, Bruce Graham, Ken Roche, Billy Ryan, Greg Moore, Nigel Dawes, Brandon Dubinsky, Zdenek Bahensky, Rick Kozak
Jagr, Demitra, Sykora, Holik and Antropov would start out a decent top 9 forward group. players like Prucha and Balej could be good fits on teh top 2 scoring lines while guys like Murray and perhaps Ortmeyer could fill in decent checking roles and allow them to grow into them. and Betts and Belak would give them parts of an agressive 4th line. and looking in a couple of years, Dawes, Immonen, Korpikowski and Jessiman will likely be full time Rangers.
Defence: Kasparitius, Rachunek, Poti, Salei, Tyutin, Purinton, Strudwick
Almost ready Prospects: Lampman, Nycholat, Pock, Grenier, Kondratiev
Down the road prospects: Nate Guenin, Jake Taylor, David Liffiton
Kasparitius, Salei, Strudwick and Purinton would add a nice physical element to the defence to offset the speed and skill of Rachunek, Tyutin and Poti. And kids like Kondratiev and Pock will seriously challenge for jobs.
Almost ready prospects: Tellqvist, Labarbera
Down the road prospects: Montoya, Lundqvist
As long as Dunham can stay healthy, I dont see too many problems in goal as Tellqvist would make a nice backup and Montoya and Lundqvist are sure fire top prospects giving the team lots of hope for the future in goal.
These few acquisitions will allow them to be competitive and perhaps challenge for a playoff spot in a rather wide open East, it keeps them still young as no player acquire would be over 30 and fast on the decline, and it would still keep openings for jobs for some of the kids to take and battle for.
So there you have my opinion of what the Rangers could do, what do you think?