The New York Daily News fan poll of Ranger free agents, who to keep and who to toss, has created some points of discussion and one has to believe that most of it has nothing to do with cap space. It all has to do with our personal likes and dislikes. I will now list the players, put their News poll numbers, my opinion and finally what I think that the Stealth GM will do.
Sean Avery News Poll: Keep him 86% -- Dump him 14%
One has only to look at the Ranger record with Avery in the lineup and without him. We have posted it here many times. He is the ultimate agitator, the annoying pest and a skilled hockey player. Jagr had some of his biggest success this year when Avery played on his line along with Dubinsky. When coach clueless was asked about Avery's contributions clueless responded that a lot of players are contributing. That's been the party line since Avery filed for arbitration and the Stealth GM called him a detriment. Some detriment. The bucks are far apart. Avery is currently at $1.9 mil and would like $4. The Stealth would prefer numbers in the $2-2.5 mil range. As you can see they are worlds apart. The Rangers cannot do without Avery. He is the spine of the team. He must be signed. Perhaps a three year deal at $10 mil might get it done. I hope so. My sense is that the Stealth GM will make a big issue out of the money and will not sign Avery claiming that the money will help him with the cap. I hope I'm wrong.
This looks like a no-brainer. There are no big bucks involved. Sign him and give him more playing time. I believe that the Stealth will do this.
Jaromir Jagr News Poll: Keep him 81% -- Dump him 19%
I can understand the fans in large numbers wanting to bring Jagr back. He has been great in his three seasons even though he has digressed the last two years. However, after his first record breaking season, he had no way to go but down. He seems to be thinking along the lines of two more years and then back to Europe and specifically The Czech Republic. He also says that he may check the free agent market to see his worth. My opinion is that he will be disappointed by the free agent market. My feeling is that he also hurt himself when in an interview he admitted that he had not gone full board all season. In effect, he was saving himself for the end and while it was good, it could have been better. He was invisible the last game against the Pens.Michal Rozsival News Poll: Keep him 60% -- Dump him 40%
To me bringing Jagr back is to bring back the same style of play for the last three years, basically a perimeter game. Bringing back Jagr will be stifling to the growth and potential of our younger players. Bringing back Jagr will ensure that the Stealth will bring back Straka and Rozsival. Bringing back Jagr will also ensure that Chris Drury will remain as the third line center. Did we give Drury all that money and all those years (5) to be a third line center? Think of this? Drury and Gomez, both big time players, are unable to play with Jagr on the same line. The team has become a Jagr oriented team or worse a Czech oriented team. Bringing back Jagr ensures that the Rangers will basically have the same team with the same offense that we had last year. Do we really want that? I don't and neither should Ranger fans. I am going against the grain on this and I say: do not bring Jagr back.
Turn the team over to Gomez, Drury and the young kids. Tough decision, but I say dump Jagr. However, my feeling is that the Stealth GM will find a way to sign him. How do you go to Prague, in the Czech Republic, to open the NHL season and not have the greatest player Europe has ever produced in the lineup? Unless he goes free agent and Tampa Bay signs him.
The biggest surprise to me. What were those 60% watching the second half of the season? His series against the Pens said it all. Giveaways, uncertainty at the point and too many penalties. He took three in a row in the last game. To me the worst indignity was not making a move when Jerko Ruutu stuck his stick in his face. I say dump him. The Stealth GM will probably sign him and if Jagr is signed he is a lock to be signed.
Martin Straka News Poll: Keep him 45% -- Dump him 55%
I'm surprised how close this one is. His relationship with Jagr not only helps him stay on the team it gets him first line status. Has an obsession with making a play, passing the puck. Refuses to shoot even when presented with golden opportunities. I still see him and Staal on a shorthanded two on one in OT against the Pens with no shot. However, coach clueless likes him. He once said that Straka is the kind of guy he would love to have as a son-in-law. I wonder what his teenage daughters think about that? There is $3.3 mil involved here, dump him. The Stealth GM will probably sign him if Jagr is signed, otherwise he might dump him also.
Brendan Shanahan News Poll: Keep him 42% -- Dump him 58%
I like this guy. He is a throwback old time hockey player. He is fearless. Who else on the team would have the guts to challenge Brashear to an old fashioned showdown? Yes, he has lost a step or maybe two. Yes, his shot doesn't have the zip it once had. But he is still one of the smartest players on the team, is an excellent penalty killer and is dynamite in the shootout. Also, without a doubt he is the leader of this team on the ice and in the locker room and he is a helleva lot smarter than the coach. I say keep him. The Stealth GM will look at his salary ($5.3) and probably dump him unless they can agree on a lower salary which is quite possible.
Marek Malik News Poll: Keep him 14% -- Dump him 86%
Didn't know Malik had that many relatives. The Stealth and I agree. Dump him.
Darius Kasparaitis News Poll: Keep him 9% -- Dump him 91%
Kaspy has fewer relatives than Malik. Time has caught up to the old belter. Sadly, dump him and I'm sure the Stealth will agree.
So there you have it. It will be a most interesting off season. Do we bring back all the Czechs and continue with the same style of play that we have had the last three years? Is that what we want the same old stuff? The same old defense at all costs. The same old perimeter style game. The same old pass, pass, and then pass some more. The minimum ice time for the kids. The 'rounding up the usual suspects' for the power play. We need a QB for the power play. We need a bruiser on the back line. We need a forward who is a sniper. The trading deadline brought us Sjostrom and Backman. Backman has a $3.4 salary next year. What a deal. What a GM. What a mess.