The Rangers must balance developing their youth with adding veteran talent, plus the reason for the Ducks downfall against Nashville.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers have a good core of young talent (Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Marc Staal) but none of them have been nominated for an NHL award or made the post-season All-Star team, leading Brooks to suggest the club won’t take a major leap forward next season without bringing in quality impact players. He suggests the time will come when the club will have to consider packaging three young assets for one young star who’s either in need of a change or might have a contract issue. Brooks also noted overworked star goalie Henrik Lundqvist isn’t getting younger, as he’ll turn 30 next March and acknowledged the current team, while good, needs to improve. The Rangers need a first line center but the only one of quality available in this summer’s UFA market is Brad Richards. Brooks suggested investing a long-term contract in Richards must be carefully measured, especially if the salary cap goes down after next season, and believes it would be a mistake to add Richards solely to act as a catalyst for Marian Gaborik.
Brooks also suggested Rangers head coach John Tortorella sound non-committal about veteran center Chris Drury, Vinny Prospal and Sean Avery returning next season. Drury, whose play has been in decline in recent years, has one year at a cap hit of $7.05 million remaining on his contract and could be a candidate for a buyout in June. Meanwhile, Brandon Dubinsky hopes he won’t have to wait as long for a new contract as he did for his last one, which he didn’t sign until one week into training camp.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Jesse Spector yesterday reports Marian Gaborik said it would be great if the club could add a center he could click with next season. He and Tortorella both said his decline in production this season was unrelated to the shoulder injury he suffered last fall. RFAs Ryan Callahan and Brian Boyle both expect to have relatively easy resolutions to their contract situations. Prospal meanwhile said he hoped to return with the Rangers next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The lack of quality talent in this summer’s UFA market could possibly spur Rangers GM Glen Sather to venture into the trade market for help. Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny could be a possibility if Avs management were to decide to move his contract, but they’d probably want Callahan and/or Dubinsky as part of the return. I believe Drury and Avery could become buyout candidates in June and doubt Prospal will be re-signed. Callahan and Boyle appear optimistic their contract negotiations will go smoothly.
NBCSPORTS.COM: Joe Yerdon reported on the reason the Anaheim Ducks were eliminated by the Nashville Predators, listing their poor defensive play, difficulty scoring at even strength, weak faceoff numbers and a lack of supporting offensive depth.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Eric Stephens also noted the Ducks poor defensive play as the prime factor in the club’s downfall against Nashville. While Cam Fowler acquitted himself well and Luca Sbisa overcome some nervous moments, veterans like Andreas Lilja, Francois Beauchemin and Andy Sutton were often victimized.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lilja is a UFA this summer, while Beauchemin and Sutton each have a year remaining on their contracts, and both could be difficult to move. The Ducks acquired Beauchemin midway through last season and probably won’t try to trade him or buy him out, as they’ll likely want to give him another season to regain his form after nearly two seasons with a struggling Maple Leafs team. Sutton could be bought out of the final year of his deal, though because he falls under the “over-35” rule, the team would see no cap savings as a result.