The Sather Experiment has Failed!…AND NEEDS TO END!

A quick look at this offseason, my take on the Gomez deal, and why Slats, and not Bob Gainey should be the first GM fired.

Glen Sather, GM of the NY Rangers has assembled a playoff roster each season after the lockout. While GM of the low budget Edmonton Oilers, Glen once said that he could build a winner if he had the money the Rangers had. Well, thus far, mission unaccomplished. He has signed targeted players and pulled of deals that only he could. But if you were to ask, which team is in the most trouble, who would it be?

I would like to start off quoting pezzz123.

“Sather has fallen into the trap, once again. After shedding Gomez’ salary in a great trade, he overspent AGAIN come July 1(st). 7.5 (million) to Gaborik?? 1.4 million to Brashear?? He now has 40 (million) committed to 11 players, more money in less players than with Gomez on board. Dubinsky, Callahan, Higgins and Korpikoski are still not resigned. Their D is suspect at best, and it would be surprising to see Morris or Mara stay for less money, especially knowing that Mara did it last year. Losers, losers, losers.”

Well, Pezzz, I don’t think you have anyone disagreeing with most of those points. I am not sure what team you cheer for, or which teams you watch the most, most your posts seem to always have some logic to them and never really biased. Are the Rangers the big losers, its tough to say, but I think any GM who had any bit of foresight wouldn’t have done with Glen did. The Rangers have a tough offseason ahead with several RFA’s as you mentioned. Since starting this article, Callahan was resigned (but only 2 years), Higgins for 1 – and he’s eligible to be a UFA, and Dubinsky think they are worth more. And the Rangers will be tight against the salary cap. Even better, Slats trades Korpikoski for an underachieving scorer.

There are many Ranger fans who are on the edge with the Gaborik signing. It has a lot of potential. He is an offensive presence the Rangers lacked this season. Will he gel with new faces? Will he play with the over used Aaron Voros? I hope not! Will he stay healthy!? This new contract for Gaborik is probably it in the NHL. This is financial freedom. What happened when Rick DiPietro got his contract? He became unmotivated. I’m not saying he doesn’t want to win, but it appears he stopped with rigorous offseason training and he is brittle. What happens with an already injury prone forward when they decide ‘I’m set?’ I will guarantee he doesn’t play 82 games next season. The fact is the Rangers have limited cap space, and should and probably need to look from within. But what happens to a team when they have too many bad long term contracts and the economy struggles? Glen, how are you going to resign Marc Staal next year? Brandon Dubinsky long term? Do you have any young “homegrown” players you do want to keep? Even better question, how will you convince Marc Staal’s agent that he isn’t worth a 6 year, 39 million dollar contract? And how is your chemistry with Brashear going to work? Are you siding with Brashear and saying you tolerate that sort of behavior? Blair Betts is just going to be kicked to the side and walk to a smart team who wants him? How’s that #1 penalty kill looking? How will not having Gomez and having Gaborik on the IR help our horrible power play?

Glen, you started this offseason with limited cap space and holes to fill. I agree, if Torts doesn’t believe Gomez is capable of playing his system, it’s time to part ways. You got a very solid return for him. I like Higgins (even though I don’t think of him as highly as I once did), and I think McDonagh is a solid prospect. He needs some work, and I am not sure what his intentions are in regards to school, but he could be an NHLer very shortly. Pavel Valentenko is a wild card. I believe it’s a deal with 2 more years. If he wants it, he has a solid NHL career when contract is up. From what I read he is regarded like Ulf Samuelsson once was. Not a good thing for opponents. And he has a blistering shot. Again a nice pull. Bob Gainey had needs and hoped to finally be able to attract free agents to MontrĂ©al. He did, but in my opinion overpaid for Gianta. I think Gomez and Gianta will work for all you Habs fans. Valentenko had no future for the Habs after what happened, and Higgins wasn’t in the plans anymore. Why Gainey parted with McDonagh is a little puzzling right now, but we will see in a few years. Remember when he parted with Josef Balei? He turned into Fedor Fedorov and both panned out!

So Glen, you still are able to swing great trades. That’s all you can do in this new era NHL. This isn’t the 80s Glen. Or the 90s. When you came to NY, you spent money like no other. What did it get us? Mediocre draft spots and no playoff appearances. You and Dolan agreed post lockout it was time to rebuild! Excellent! And it worked! You had a young team, and instead of letting this team grow old and gel, you went back to your ways of signing bad contracts. Who would disagree that Wade Redden can’t be moved? Or that he has THE WORST CONTRACT may be in professional sports. Chris Drury is overpaid and his contract isn’t going anywhere. Rozsival’s deal won’t have many takers. And what happens if Gaborik gets hurt? Who would take that if it turns out to be bad?

The fact about Free Agency is this: It is a weakness. It is an unnecessary evil. Free Agents, especially Day 1 Free Agents are grossly overpaid. Is it worth it? How many Day 1 free agent signings are you happy about Glen? Or even other teams. Free agents disrupt team chemistry in most cases. They inflate salaries, and worse they give soon to be free agents more bargaining power. “The hardest part for everyone will be to stay patient and understand that we are committed to building a team from within that can have long-term success in New York” -Slats. How? A team from within includes 2 goalies, bottom 4 defensemen, and 3rd and 4th line players? Prospects can only stay in Hartford for so long before they realize there is more money and opportunity in Europe. Free agency is the death of teams. Look at Detroit. Model of the NHL. How many free agents did they overspend for? They picked up Hossa. 1 YEAR! ONE! UNE! That 8 million they had room for and is now OFF THE BOOKS! Cap space should be used for RESIGNING CORE PLAYERS! That would be your Lundqvist (which was done) your Staal’s (good luck), Del Zotto, McDonaugh in 3 years. Dubinsky who is desired by many teams should be in that list too.

So Slats, you finally hired a good coach. You think you are more competitive with Gaborik. And you feel much better about the 09-10 Rangers than last years. You know what? I still don’t like our chances getting by Pittsburgh or Washington. Why not bond as a team? “We will be looking at players who can help us through this transition period while we are developing a core group of home grown players,”-Slats. This transition mentioned was after the lockout. How long does it last? The past two seasons, the Rangers have had A HUGE ROSTER TURNOVER? How does that develop our kids? How does that lead to success? IT DOESN’T! But you shouldn’t be constantly having a new scoring and secondary scoring line. I don’t have a problem with having 3-4 new guys a year. I don’t have a problem with letting a player like Colton Orr walk. Find guys who can get it done. Let them get ice time and experience and let the kids grow. A good company is constantly hiring new, young employees so that there is a smooth flow and a team roster will not get too old altogether. Not everyone is retiring at once. No youngster is expected to do too much, but in time are groomed for a role. A hockey franchise should be exactly that. How does a hard working employee feel when an outside hire was brought it because they didn’t think you could handle the job (though you felt you
were more than qualified with minimal training)? Are you going to stay? It disrupts the workplace, and it disrupts the locker room.

So to recap, Glen your last two coaching hires have been solid. You can trade with the best of them. How about the draft? Rockstrom found Henrik Lundqvist, not you. You decided to go with Al Montoya when goaltending was clearly not a need. How’d that work out? And Hugh Jessiman? Truth be told, you found some late round hard working 3rd line wingers, and that’s it. Your record in round 1 is disappointing. Second round isn’t any better. Dubinsky was a solid selection. How about the rest? The only thing that you can find in a draft are players who fall. Many of those are Russians (like Grachev) who fell because of sign ability. That’s never an issue for the Rangers, but teams are catching on. It’s just too bad you are completely irresponsible when it comes to managing a cap and building a “team” I won’t even touch the Kotalik signing, but someone tell me how he fits into this team or Torts system? Oh yeah a 3 year contract that we can’t move either!

Glen you are 65. Time to retire buddy. Let someone with foresight handle the mess you created.

Here is my solution – and/or player roadmap.

Name Age Salary Years Remaining Role Role within 2 years
King Henrik | 27 | 6.875 |5 years left Allstar goalie Elite netminder
Steve Valiquette| 31 | .725 | 1 year Mediocre backup AHL/Europe goalie
Miika Wiikman | 24 | .543 | 1 AHL Split Duty AHL Starter/3rd string
Matt Zaba | 25 AHL Split Duty 3rd string goalie
Chad Johnson | 23 AHL/ECHL Potential NHL backup

09-10 Cap hit: 7.6M (Lundqvist, Valiquette)
Analysis. The Rangers don’t have a goalie in case of something happens to Lundqvist. Ideally, I’d like to see someone who could get 20 starts down the road. Valiquette’s potential is realized and he probably isn’t good enough for 20 starts that I want. I am not sure which of the 3 prospects would assume the role. Benoit Allaire is one heck of a goalie coach and I am confident he can mold one of these three into my backup next year. I still would look to draft a couple of college or European goalies in the next few years. Let them play at a high level or elite league and gain experience because there isn’t a need in Hartford. May be another diamond in the rough like Lundqvist???

Name Age Salary Years Remaining Role Role within 2 years
Wade Redden | 32 | 6.5 |5 years left 2nd pairing D/PP Aging Dman, buyout scenario
Michal Rozsival|31 | 5 | 3 2nd pairing D/PP 2nd pairing D
Dan Girardi | 26 | 1.55 | 1, RFA Overplayed 1st pairing 2nd pairing D
Marc Staal | 23 | .827 | 1, RFA 1st pairing Top Pairing/Shutdown D
Bobby Sanguinetti 22 .855 | 2, RFA AHL, PP QB Potential 3rd pairing NHL D/ PP
Michael Sauer | 22 | .846 | 1, RFA AHL, 7th D 3rd pairing NHL
Matt Gilroy | 25 | 1.75 | 2 AHL, 7th D Potential 2nd pairing
Michael Del Zotto |19 Juniors Potential PP QB, top pairing
Ryan McDonagh | 20 College Potential 1st, 2nd pairing
Corey Potter | 26 | AHL, 7th D 6th,7th D
Pavel Valentenko | 21 KHL NHL bound in 11-12? 3rd pairing D
Tomas Kundratek | 19 Juniors Potential 3rd pairing
Ilkka Heikkinen | 24 AHL/6th, 7th, D Makes the team or Europe
Brian Fahey | 28 | .500 | 1 AHL/7th D AHL

09-10 Cap Hit: est. 17.3 (Redden, Rozsival, Girardi, Staal, Del Zotto, Gilroy, Sauer)
Analysis. To state the obvious, there will be two contracts that will hurt this team. One was an somewhat understandable resigning in Rozsival. He can be solid and we did need someone. I question if he or Redden fits into John Tortorella’s system. Rozsival could probably be dealt for minimal return. Though he has a strong cap hit, his salary is less than that thanks to a front loaded deal. I could see Atlanta or another team (who has an owner induced salary cap) interested. Redden can’t be moved. We could theoretically send him to the minors one season but that’s it. A buyout is a last resort. Hopefully Wade can turn his season around and be stronger mentally. Fans shouldn’t boo him because we can’t get rid of him. Boo Sather when shown. Chant FIRE SATHER! HIRE HTR’s RANGER_FAN! Anyway, lets suppose we can sign Staal. He would probably get 3 million next year in arbitration. Then long term would cost 5-7. Can we really be paying 17 million on a mediocre top 3? And have like 38 million tied up on only 6 players? And if the cap dips to 52 million? See Slats – foresight! Add Dubinsky next year and its probably 41, Callahan 44. Oh, that’s 44 million on 8 players. 8 million for another 15 players seems like a challenge! In a couple years, I think we are set with homegrown talent with Redden still on the roster, then Staal, McDonagh, Girardi, Gilroy, Sauer, Del Zotto, and possibly Sanguinetti on the roster. That is 7 definite roster players, and a wildcard in Sanguinetti. Not to mention Potter may still be in the system, Rozsival could still be on the team – though I think he will be dealt to get salary flexibility. Valentenko might opt to try North America again and could be NHL material. And I really like the kid Kundratek. So to all the rumor people, if it was up to me, expect Dan Girardi to be dealt in the upcoming season – depending on how camp goes for some rookies. He has reach his potential and isn’t worth much more than what he’s getting now.

Name Age Salary Years Remaining Role Role within 2 years
Marian Gaborik| 27 | 7.5 |5 years left 1st line RW 1st line RW
Chris Drury | 33 | 7.05 | 3 2nd line center 2nd line center
Ales Kotalik | 30 | 3 | 3 3rd line wing/PP 3rd line winger
Sean Avery | 30 | 1.938 | 3 3rd line LW agitator 3rd line LW agitator
Donald Brashear| 37 | 1.4 | 2 4th line LW goon Not on the team in 2 years
Aaron Voros | 28 | 1 | 2 13th forward/punching bag AHL/4th line
Artem Anisimov|21 | .822 | 2 3rd line center 2nd line two way center
Patrick Rissmiller|30| 1 | 2 Borderline winger Borderline winger
Ryan Callahan | 24 | 2.3 | 2 2nd/3rd line RW 2nd/3rd line RW
Christopher Higgins|26| 2.1 | 1 2nd line LW 2nd line LW
Brandon Dubinsky|23 | (2.5) 2nd/3rd line C/LW 2nd line C/LW
Nik Zherdev | 24 (3.5) 2nd/3rd line RW potential 1st line or KHL
Brian Boyle | 24 (1) 4th line center potential 3rd line center
Enver Lisin | 23 (1) 3rd line forward potential 2nd line
Evgeny Grachev |20| .875 | 2 AHL/scoring line LW/C potential 1st line LW/C
Paul Crowder | 24| .975 | 1 Possibly 4th line C potential 3rd line
Dale Weise |
21 | .700 | 2 AHL/4th line energy RW potential3rd/4th line RW
Dane Byers | 23 | (.7) AHL/4th line potential 3rd line

09-10 Cap Hit: est.: 32.71 (Gaborik, Drury, Avery, Higgins, Dubinsky, Callahan, Anisimov, Lisin, Voros, Boyle, Kotalik, Brashear, Rissmiller)

But uh oh! That totals 57.61M. How will that work? Are the Rangers yet again only going to carry 20 players? I don’t like Rissmiller can be buried again, it depends on his contract. If he can, we are at 56.61. We may also have to carry 6 D. Take away Sauer and we are just under 56 million. Notice Zherdev is not included.

I think Zherdev won’t be back. At best we may be able to get a conditional pick or he’s leaving for the KHL. I hope we can sign Dubinsky long term, but it might be wishful thinking. Lets say he gets 2 years totaling 5 million. That means our contracts that are up next year are Staal, Girardi, Higgins, and a few other less significant players. That is about 4.5 coming off the books with those three. How are they going to be resigned with lower cap?? Glen, what is done is done. But please stop with the signings. I want Derek Morris back – but WE CAN NO LONGER AFFORD IT! Was Kotalik really necessary? No. Brashear? HAHA yeah right. I think Gaborik’s best option is Anisimov at center which is very sad. I hope Dubinsky can do it but I fear they won’t gel. I want to see Grachev at some point this year get important minutes but that may have to now wait for Gaborik to get hurt.

Anyways our outlook:
Avery Anisimov Gaborik
Higgins Drury Kotalik
Lisin Dubinsky Callahan
Brashear Boyle Voros

Staal Girardi
Redden Rozsival
Del Zotto Gilroy

The most amazing part of that is each line is different than last year. No line will have instant chemistry between the 3. Dubinsky/Callahan and Drury and Kotalik have played together and may be the only constants. As mentioned, look for Gaborik out and Grachev in at some point. Even better is Slats dismantled our #1 PK. Out are Sjostrom Betts and Korpikoski. How are we going to stop Pittsburgh and their PP? And don’t give me the refs will not be giving them the benefit anymore now that he has a cup.

So our PK may be Dubinsky and Callahan along with Drury and Higgins??? Weak! I know Anisimov can contribute too, and Avery if he must but Sean will be in the sinbin.

Our PP will focus around Gaborik instead of Gomez or Jagr and will still be largely ineffective unless Redden and Rozsival SHOOT THE PUCK!

If I am GM and restrict stupid signings, in 3 years I hope to see this lineup! (Most bad contracts are done in 3 years)

Grachev Anisimov Gaborik
Kreider Dubinsky Callahan
Byers Stepan Weise
Hagelin Crowder Soryal

In 3 years, Gaborik is still making 7.5, Dubinsky will be a 5 million dollar player, Callahan 4 and other than that, young relatively cheap talent! This offense could cost only 25-27 million compared – at least 5 million cheaper!

If Anisimov doesn’t develop, or Kreider, look to resign some players we would lose to free agency OR make a trade for someone who fits the coaching style and fills the role.

Staal McDonagh
Del Zotto Gilroy
Redden Sauer
Kundratek Valentenko Sanguinetti

I said I would trade Girardi for salary reasons above. Solid D core. What do don’t see is Sanguinetti until 9th! Might he be bait? Staal would probably command 5, Redden still making 6.5, and a defense that might cost 20 million.

Still solid and costing about 7.5 So my plan would call for this roster – and an estimated 54.5 million cap hit.

So am I missing something? Why should Slats buy talent that doesn’t work when he could have a young healthy team, capable of competing. I know the offense doesn’t look strong but hey, that’s what trades are for! Find a weakness? I have assets I’m willing to part with! As of right now they’d include Girardi, Sanguinetti, Lisin, as well as may be Bourque, or Werek if they develop.

So to all the Gainey haters, how has this man screwed up more than Sather?