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With Lundqvist deal done, Sather faces tough questions

Dec 4, 2013, 12:39 PM EDT

Glen Sather

You all know by now that Henrik Lundqvist has agreed to a seven-year, $59.5 million contract extension to guard the New York Rangers’ goal through 2020-21.

There’s no telling how the above will work out, so we’re not going to waste much time hemming and hawing over it. Maybe Lundqvist plays great throughout the term of the deal, and as a bonus the salary cap rockets up and his $8.5 million cap hit ends up looking like a bargain. Or, maybe his play declines with age, or he suffers a bunch of injuries, and the Rangers are forced to buy him out.

All that’s sure is this: the deal is the deal, and the work isn’t over for Rangers general manager Glen Sather. Because if you haven’t noticed, this team has some issues, and with Lundqvist locked up, it’s time to start addressing them.

Here are three questions that Sather needs to answer:

— What are Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi worth? Both can become unrestricted free agents this summer, and it’s hard to imagine the Rangers don’t want them back. That said, Callahan’s lengthy injury log has to be considered. How many years do you commit to a 28-year-old who plays the way Callahan plays? Do you give him seven years? Because there’s almost definitely a team out there that would.

— Is there enough offense on this roster? If Lundqvist plays like he’s shown he can, the Rangers won’t need to be the highest-scoring team in the league, but 2.21 goals per game isn’t going to cut it. Now, to be fair, Rick Nash has only played 11 games, and maybe it’s taken time for the players to adjust to Vigneault’s system. Chris Kreider has great potential, too. It’s still a question that needs to be asked when a team’s offense ranks 25th in a 30-team league. No goalie is that good.

— Where does defenseman Michael Del Zotto fit in the club’s plans? New coach Alain Vigneault hasn’t been particularly impressed with the 23-year-old, that’s for sure. You never want to trade a young player when his value is low, but it’s not like his value has been decimated. They could still get a decent return if he was shopped. If, however, Del Zotto does get moved, Sather will need to bolster the blue line with at least one more puck-mover who can drive some offense. Because Ryan McDonagh can’t do it all himself:

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  1. pone27 - Dec 4, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    All of these situations regarding signing Lundy is what makes Sather such a terrible GM, and for years now.

    I am pretty sure us regulars on here who have a solid hockey IQ can all agree that this is what we were expecing Lundy to get, maybe even more, but we can safely assume he was going to get 8.5-10mil/yr. so that essentially is a no brainer.

    The debate here is more so of what is Sather going to do with all of these key guys who are going to be F/As. This is what separates guys like Sather, from a guy like Stan Bowman who knows he has a wealth of prospects to help absorb the hits that Toews and Kane will bring (pardon my biased Hawks reference, but let me finish.)

    Beyond who Sather has to re-sign, the team is going to suffer because the Rangers lack prospects big time. My personal opinion/thought if I was in Sathers shoes is to buy out Richards first and foremost, especially if you want to hold onto Callahan and Girardi. They are going to fetch cash and years on the market. Del Zotto can be traded, but you have to get picks in return. Kid is too young to trade for a veteran (with a rough salary more than likely) and the Rangers need depth in the prospect pool big time.

    Rangers are walking up a steep hill come this off-season, and its not because of the contract they gave Lundy, but because of the terrible decisions Sather has made over the years.

    • gaborik104life - Dec 4, 2013 at 3:16 PM

      I can’t argue that there is not a plethora of prospects however there are a few that can likely make the jump next year to help fill the holes that will be there. Miller, Fasth, Kristo and Lindberg for the O, Mcllrath, and Allen on D.

      • xdj511 - Dec 4, 2013 at 3:22 PM

        I wish I had your optomism. Miller and Fast have already had their time with the big club and besides brief flashes have been unable to do much. McIlrath this training camp was a noticable disaster, constantly running out of position to try to deliver the big hit resulting in opportunities for the other team. He is going to have to become a much smarter player in order to make the jump.

        I always feel like the Rangers have a handful of prospects that are on the cusp but never seem to make it.

      • gaborik104life - Dec 4, 2013 at 3:38 PM

        xdj agree completely with what you say regarding those players. That being said there’s plenty of time before this will really be debated. Miller was sent down for various reasons including not getting enough ice time. Since he went down based off what I have read he has played rather well, gotten significant ice time, and the best part points. The team had to many players for Fast to stay up unless he put on an incredible showing which he did not however it was not terrible. Again time in the ahl can allow him to round out his game. Mcllrath was terrible in the training camp however I forgot who said it but they said they wouldn’t bring him up until halfway through the season if at all. Furthermore while he was terrible in training camp since that point his game has really rose again based off the little I read about the prospects. So while these players currently cannot crack the roster there is plenty of time to go and hopefully there are surprises in the upcoming season regarding the hopefuls

  2. stakex - Dec 4, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    For starters, the other big question now will continues to be what happens to Richards? As I said in the other topic about the Lundqvist deal I personally think he might as well start packing. His play has been alright so far, but not good enough to save his job with the Rangers. He’s eating up $6.66 million right now and that could be much better spent.

    As for Callahan, there might be teams out there that would give him a big deal… but I don’t think the Rangers should. He’s one hell of a tough player, who can put some points on the board… but he’s hurt almost as often as he is healthy. Any sort of big deal with Callahan would be a huge risk. If push comes to shove, I think the Rangers would be better off trading Callahan than signing him to a big deal.

    On offense, do the Rangers have enough firepower? Arguably yes, but they are having serious issues putting it together consistently. Not only are their top lines having issues finding the net regularly, but the bottom six for the Rangers has been all but invisible…. contributing a goal every 7 games or so. You can’t put the blame on the bottom of the roster, and you never expect them to light it up, but they need to do more than what they are. Even if the Rangers don’t make big splashes for top scoring forwards, they should make some smaller moves to sure up the bottom six.

    And finally defense. I fully expect that either Girardi or Del Zotto will be traded by the end of the year. Del Zotto seems like the most likely to be moved on the surface, but Girardi is in line for a big raise this offseason…. one that Rangers might have trouble giving him. Not to mention he would bring a higher return than Del Zotto, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him moved instead.

    Its also possible that Sather decides to leave the roster mostly intact for the season and see how things play out. If the mediocrity continues, the Rangers have a top of free agents in the summer and big chances would be easy to make. I doubt that’s the rout Sather would take, but its possible.

    • jpelle82 - Dec 4, 2013 at 1:57 PM

      as far as callahan goes, unless he changes the way he plays the game, he’s not gonna make it to the end of another contract…torterella just abused the crap out of a good soldier for too long. he’s about as broken down as any 28 year old in the league

      • cofran2004 - Dec 4, 2013 at 2:11 PM

        I dunno… he seems fine to me. Thumb injury’s aren’t notorious for being huge career enders. The last major injury he had was his shoulder injury, and that seems completely healed.

        And now, he’s not being asked to do as much. I haven’t seen him going down to block shots as often, as Vigneault’s system doesn’t really call for it. He still plays with the chip on his shoulder, but he seems smarter about it. Plus, the intangibles he brings to the team are very important. He’s a lead by example guy, and the team does seem to feed off of the energy he brings. I’d be happier if he had Kreider’s frame and plays the way he does, but what can you do? I personally would feel a little let down if the rangers let cally go.

  3. xdj511 - Dec 4, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    Well I was here ranting not too long ago about the Rangers future and Sather’s role in it. Today we know that Lundqvist is going to be with us for the long haul. So, what does that mean going forward?

    Richards is going to be bought out. If he suddenly turned into Wayne Gretzky c. 1983 it wouldn’t be enough to save him.

    The money coming off the books from Richards will be enough to re-sign Callahan and Girardi. After another season the salary cap is going to go way up, anyway (why did we have a lockout again?) and huge contracts aren’t going to be as much as an issue when it comes time for long-term deals for McDonagh, Stepan, Kreider, etc.

    If we do fall out of contention this season hopefully we’re able to trade some pieces for prospects and draft picks. We can always deal off Cally and Girardi at the deadline and then re-sign them when they become UFA’s this summer. Hopefully we can get MDZ’s value up and trade him for some forward depth, and Cam Talbot is going to be very attractive to Florida, Edmonton, NYI, etc. as a possible solution to their goaltending woes.

    The onus is on Sather to make the right moves. He has shown an ability to make great trades. Let’s see how he does.

  4. barkar942 - Dec 4, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    Personally, I think everyone thinking Girardi will be traded has been hanging around the hemp pile lately! Staal, Mc D, Girardi and Stralman will be the core four. DelZ will be gone and there will be two spots up for grabs next year. I think Moore will come along better than DelZ long term.
    Go here- http://capgeek.com/charts.php?Team=22 to see the Rangers Cap Hit for next year. Here are my predictions for next year.
    Richards will be gone.
    Cally 5.5m a year.
    Brassard will get no raise for a two year contract or he will be sent off sooner with DelZ.
    Boyle, Pyatt and Pouiout will be gone.
    Zucc 3M per year 3 year
    Dom Moore will be two year 1.75m per year
    Kreider will get the Stepan deal of 3m per year for two years.
    Girardi same as McD 4.7m per year.
    Stralman 3m per year 3 year.
    Faulk and Moore may both resign at 1.25m to 1.5m per year, or they will let one of them go and bring up McIlrath.
    The core of this team is good, but a couple of changes could make this team more consistent and more of a contender.

  5. bleedrangerblue - Dec 4, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    We can only pray Boyle , Pyatt , and Pouliot are gone. Enough already. Richards prob should go to. Keep Cap Cally (be real people). He’s our captain.

  6. jaybyrd99 - Dec 4, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    The sad part is that sather will still be the GM to make moves .

  7. bronxtale247 - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:52 AM

    Exactly Jay, Sather is a moron. Has ruin the rangers by trying to run the team like Brian Cashman of the Yankees except he’s forgotten we have a salary cap. We have old slow players locked in for yrs that are waste of money..that goes for Nash too. And NO can’t miss prospects. The worst draft eligible team for the past ten+ yrs with god awful 1st round picks (Jessiman) it’s said to say but the rangers will be looking up at the rest of the east for yrs to come.

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