Rangers making a last ditch effort before 2004 armageddon?

Kovalev, Bure, Nedved, Leetch, Messier, Carter, Holik and now possibly Leclair, Jagr, and Bowman? All this with one year before the much prophesized “Armageddon” in relation to the end of the current CBA? Are the Rangers making a late last ditch effort to win the cup with their current team before the CBA expires?

In what began as a few whispers two years ago, September 2004 is drawing more and more attention from all sides, especially Gary Bettman and the fans who truly make or break the NHL. With de facto gag orders on both sides of the table (NHL owners and NHLPA), the GM’s of certain high payroll teams, like Dallas, Toronto, Detroit, and Philadelphia, are beginning to show their concern over a likely work stoppage by toning down any new contracts. Many GM’s have been extremely weary of new deals that run past the current CBA. If in fact there is a work stoppage, there will almost certainly be some sort of a cap on team salaries or a luxury tax. This means that the few high payroll teams that don’t reduce payroll before next September may be forced to move either their big name players or depth, both of which may hinter any shot at the Stanley Cup.

However, The New York Rangers seem to be one team that is willing to take on a lot of salary. With only one season left before the CBA runs out, it’s a risky move. While most teams are toning down in order to keep their squads together, the Rangers are making one last thrust towards the Cup. Its almost a certainty that they will run over any new cap or luxury tax that is implemented next year, and when that time comes there will be a fire sale in New York. And they won’t be in a good position afterword. Players like Holik and Kasperitis, who the Rangers overpaid for, won’t bring the return they will desire, and trading these players to keep the team afloat will also mean swallowing some of their salaries on the Rangers part.

In my opinion, the pressure to “win now” has come from above Glen Sather in the organization and that all invovled in the running of the team have decided to let the CBA fight happen and just try to make something next year. They went in over their heads in too many deals, brought in too many players at wrong positions, and overpaid for a handfull of players. The organization is concious of what may very well happen next summer and are prepared to deal with the consequences. As much as myself, as well as many others, dislike the workings of the Rangers front office, I say let them do what they will over the next year. Let them go and get Fedorov and Hatchter, Jagr and Leclair, and see if Bowman can control all those egos. Because after September 2004, any chance for the future will depend on their ability to draft and make smart, cost effective trades that bring depth, not Superstars, to the team.

I don’t know if a payroll of 80 million will bring the Rangers the cup next year, or even get them in the playoffs, but in their current situation, they might as well go for it. And hell, if they finish 9th again, it sure would be a good laugh.