Rangers Rumors & News
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As of 12 o’clock noon, the NHL free agency period officially began. Rangers’ unrestricted free agents include: Sean Avery, Mitch Fritz, Andrew Hutchinson, Jaromir Jagr, Darius Kasparaitis, Marek Malik, Paul Mara, Michal Rozsival, Brendan Shanahan, Martin Straka, Jason Strudwick, Steve Valiquette.

Despite the free agent splash that GM Glen Sather made last season when he signed both Scott Gomez and Chris Drury in one fell swoop, this year’s offseason is arguably much more interesting. There seem to be two schools of thought concerning the Rangers:
1) That last year’s team was only a player or two removed from being a legit Cup contender and that management should make another run at it with a roster built around Jaromir Jagr. Under this scenario, the Rangers would pursue free agent Mats Sundin to partner with Jagr while Drury would move to Gomez’s left wing on the second line.
2) That Jagr can no longer dominate games over an 82-game schedule and that his lack of a two-way game, not to mention is lack of chemistry with either of the club’s premier two centermen, makes him a poor fit for the team moving forward. Under this scenario, the team would turn the page on the Jaromir Jagr era, likely handing the captain’s ‘C’ to Drury and finding a goal-scoring winger that would be compatible alongside Gomez.

I am squarely in Camp II, as I was never a big Jagr fan even when he was breaking franchise scoring records. However even putting my personal feelings aside, one has to acknowledge that it makes little sense to lavish $86.75 million on Gomez and Drury, only to relegate them to 2nd and 3rd line duty; while moving Drury to the wing would be an utter waste of the center’s proficiency in the faceoff circle and his savvy in the defensive zone. In early May, I suggested that the Rangers make a hard push for free agent Marian Hossa, the only established goal scorer on the free agent market. Hossa has his detractors, and I agree with much of the criticism; he is certainly not a dominant player. However, I think this is an instance where the glove simply fits. While Jagr is the type of player that needs to dominate the puck in order to be productive, Hossa is a pure sniper who is at his best when he’s finding open ice and burying scoring chances that his playmaking centerman creates. While no one will confuse Scott Gomez with Sidney Crosby any time soon, Gomez is exactly the sort of fast-skating, smooth-passing, creative centerman alongside whom Hossa would thrive. To me, signing Hossa would not simply be about maximizing your investment in the 29-year-old Slovak, but also about maximizing the value of the seven years, $51.5M you’ve invested in Gomez.

Could Hossa price himself out of the Rangers’ plans? Of course. The buzz coming out of Edmonton is that the Oilers could offer an absurd long-term deal at $9 million per year, and Hossa is not that type of talent. However, I would certainly feel comfortable besting the five-year, $7 million per offer that Pittsburgh reportedly put on the table.

One thing is for certain: It’s going to be interesting.

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