Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rangers, Old Men and RFAs Oh My

The New York Ranger have somehow managed to sign both Brendan Shanahan and their number one goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, to one-year deals.

25-year-old Lundqvist, who was a restricted free agent (RFA), signed a deal that will pay him $4.25 million next season. He made $817,000 last season where he won 37 games, which tied him for eight in the league. Of course, after next season he will become an unresticted free agent unless New York is able to work out a new deal during the season. However, it's important to remember that the Rangers really signed this deal in order to keep teams like the Oilers from stealing him while they work on a long-term contract.

Shanny, on the other hand, will make $2.5 million this season with easily attainable bonuses, which don't count towards the salary cap, that could bring his total salary up to around $5.3 million. The 38-year-old winger's showed last season that he could still score putting up 62 points and 29 goals in 67 games. While this was a little off of his previous year's pace where he played every game and scored 40 goals and added 41 assists, it was still a good season for an aging player and earned him a spot in the 06-07 All Star game. His season was shortened when he inadvertently slammed face first into the Flyer's Mike Knuble, fracturing Knuble's orbital bone and giving Shanahan a pretty serious concussion. This was a scary moment:

These two signings, coupled with the monster deals handed out to Gomez and Drury, put the Rangers right up against the cap. This means that Marcel Hossa and Sean Avery, the other two RFAs, will most likely find themselves on new teams next season. While Hossa won't have a great immediate impact on a roster, though he does have potential, Avery is the kind of player that many teams need.

The 5-10, 185 lb winger is a nasty, physical agitator with an underrated amount of offensive ability. He put up 10 goals and 28 points in 55 games with the Kings, which isn't bad for an agitator. However, his production increased dramatically when he was moved to New York at the deadline where in 29 games he scored 8 goals and added 12 assists. He also found himself playing on the top two lines with players like Jaromir Jagr and Shanahan. This also improved his plus/minus from a -10 rating with the Kings to a +11 with the Rangers. He showed in New York that he could handle additional resposibility and not put his team in tough situations by taking ill-advised penalties, a knock against him in previous years. His physical nature and offensive potential alone should guarantee him a raise and a healthy number of interested teams. A few of the teams that showed a serious lack of toughness in the playoffs (I'm talking to you Pittsburgh and Buffalo) would help themselves out by taking a look at the tough guy that has shown an ability to play on the top scoring line.

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