Thu 17 Dec 2009
When Matt Gilroy was assigned to Hartford, the talk on the blogs was whether the move was a cap space transaction or was the rookie defenseman being singled out as a scapegoat for the Rangers overtime loss to Chicago over a week ago. The answer is simple – yes he was being used as a scapegoat. Not for any specific player, but as a scapegoat for the Rangers President/GM.
No GM has been more ill-equipped to handle the NHL in a salary cap age than Glen Sather. Yes, Lou Lamoriello faced problems coming out of the lockout, but he managed to wiggle his way out of being over the cap by dealing away Vladimir Malakhov and a conditional first round draft pick to San Jose. The Devils, who do not have the deepest pockets in the NHL, banished Alexander Mogilny to the minors to clear up cap space as well.
Ken Holland and the Detroit Red Wings have been pushed to the edge of the cap, but at least they have a Stanley Cup to show for the efforts.
The Chicago Blackhawks will find themselves in salary cap hell next season thanks to some bad contracts (e.g. Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet). However, they also have a plethora of young talent (e.g. Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews to name a few) that had to be paid at the risk of losing them.
The Philadelphia Flyers also find themselves unable to add decent goaltending because of their cap woes. However, the Flyers feature young stars like Jeff Carter and Mike Richards and signed a center (Daniel Briere) for less money and more production – when healthy. Paul Holmgren was even able to address his need for a bruising defenseman when he traded for Chris Pronger at the 2009 NHL Draft.
The mess the Rangers are in is the direct result of Sather being woefully out of touch with the way NHL teams need to be run in the 21st century. Let’s be honest, Sather is living off the Edmonton Oilers Dynasty that was carried on the backs of Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier and built by Sather’s chief scout Barry Fraser’s work in the draft.
Sather’s draft record has been spotty at best during his tenure with the Rangers. He has drafted solid players like Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto and had some bad breaks with the career-ending injury to Dan Blackburn and the tragic death of Alexei Cherepanov. However, most of his higher draft picks either don’t make the NHL (Hugh Jessiman) or don’t even sign with the organization (second round draft picks Darin Olver and Antoine Lafleur).
To his credit, Sather’s draft picks have been as spotty as Holland’s and Lamoriello’s. However, the Devils and Red wings have not picked as high as the Rangers and those two teams have GMs who are able to scout out talent to make up for the draft shortcomings.
Sather’s solution has been to throw money at all of his problems. I am not going to condemn Slats for throwing money at the problem. Let’s face it, that is was things are done in New York. The problem is the idea of spending. The problem is who the money is being spent on and how Sather is building the Rangers.
Following the 2007 season, Sather keyed his efforts on adding a number one center. He moved swiftly to sign Chris Drury and Scott Gomez. Both are good players, but neither is a true number one center. The problem is that Sather gave each player number one center type money (Drury – $7 million cap hit and Gomez – $7.3 million cap hit). The end result was that the Rangers had a pair of number two centers making first line money.
Following the 2008 season, Sather keyed his efforts on adding a couple of top defensemen and re-signed Michal Rozsival and signed Wade Redden. At best, both Rozsival and Redden are second pair defensemen who are being paid as top pair blueliners (Redden – $6.5 million cap hit and Rozsival – $5.0 million cap hit).
Most Ranger fans probably wouldn’t have a problem with Redden and Rozsival if they were making about half (or even two-thirds) of what their current contracts are. It was highly unlikely anyone was going to pay Redden in the neighborhood of $4 million per year over six years and Rozy wasn’t going to get a four year deal at around $3 million for four years. Heck, given the fact the Rangers gave Rozsival a shot at the NHL after missing all but one AHL game during the 2003-2004 season due to injury, the Rangers were due a little hometown discount.
This idea of a hometown discount should have been applied to the Drury and Gomez contracts. Drury grew up in Connecticut as a Ranger fan so he should have been most willing to provide his beloved Blueshirts with some type of hometown discount.
While Gomez had no direct connection to the Rangers, he did spend his seven NHL seasons playing across the Hudson with the Devils. That should have been worth a million or two.
Even when Sather re-signed Henrik Lundqvist at a cap hit of $6.875 million per season the GM was being more generous then he probably had to be. We can agree to argue whether or The King should have been a little more cap friendly, the one thing we can’t argue about is that Sather should have looked to his counterpart in New Jersey for guidance on how to build his roster.
Lamoriello has let it be known that no Devil will be paid more than Martin Brodeur – and that is probably the way it should be given Marty’s status with the Devils. With Brodeur making $5.2 million per season, Sather should have been able to ink Lundqvist to a similar deal with some adjustments to show how “generous” Cablevision can be.
The Rangers could have and should have adopted a similar stance when it came to the Drury and Gomez contracts (i.e. that the goaltender is the face of the franchise and the salary “cap” for non-superstar players). At the minimum, the Rangers would have saved a couple of million dollars in cap space and it might even have helped to drive down Redden’s and Rozsival’s asking prices.
In today’s NHL, there is a need for teams try and save every dollar that is possible. Every dollar not spent/wasted is a dollar that can be used to acquire other players. Even if we accept the idea that Gilroy was sent to Hartford, wasn’t there a better way to save cap space? Do the Rangers really need both Donald Brashear and Aaron Voros, especially when Coach John Tortorella is only going to play one them – and they are only going to get fourth line minutes?
Frankly, the Rangers could have (and should have) dumped both players and saved the pro-rated portion of both salaries ($2.4 million) – which is more than Gilroy’s salary.
For those who believe that Gilroy’s assignment to Hartford was not a scapegoat move or a salary cap move, how do you explain Bobby Sanguinetti being recalled when the Rangers decided to to go with seven defensemen?
Well, there is one explanation and the answer to that explanation can be summed up in this link .
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