Update, 5:28 p.m.: OK, we’re back after a brief respite. TSN has linked the Rangers to Rolston, Campbell, Sundin, and obviously Jagr as well. No word on whether Glen Sather is still despondent after losing out on Adam Hall.
Update, 4:38 p.m.: Consider this another lull. Whoever had Alex Auld to Ottawa in the free agent pool, you’re buying drinks tonight.
Update, 4:08 p.m.: Apparently the Brian Campbell Sweepstakes are spiraling out of control. This is from “Aaron Portzline of the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch”:http://blog.dispatch.com/cbj/2008/07/fritsche_to_toronto.shtml:
“Earlier today, an agent told me that the price tag for Brian Campbell is out of control. ‘I’m hearing that any offer under $60 million is getting laughed at,’ he said.”
Just for the record, we should point out that Campbell had 62 points this season, and not as the above passage might suggest, 162 points.
Update, 4:04 p.m.: And that’s it. The Rangers have their team for the 2008-09 season. I’ll check in tomorrow from the Aaron Voros press conference.
Easy there, I’m just kidding. Put down the goalie stick…
Update, 3:49 p.m.: The Rangers have signed forward Aaron Voros from Minnesota. No confirmation from the team just yet. The 26-year-old Voros had seven goals and seven assists in 55 games as a rookie for the Wild. He at least provides some size at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds. but I think it goes without saying this is a depth move at best.
Update, 3:45 p.m.: Dellapina talked to Jagr, “who wouldn’t comment on the Pittsburgh rumors”:http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/rangers/. My friend from the Daily News also reports that the Rangers might be targeting not just Mats Sundin, but Markus Naslund as well. So is that the new game of NHL copycat—load up on as many Swedes as possible?
Update, 3:39 p.m.: Stop the insanity! The Lightning have “now also signed Adam Hall, and may be moving in on Olaf Kolzig”:http://blogs.tampabay.com/lightning/2008/07/lightning-signs.html. I love the Lightning’s new owners. It’s like they’re all playing Sega hockey, only with real people. Meanwhile, the Hall deal was for three years. Three years! For Adam Hall!
Update, 3:20 p.m.: Sportsnet.ca is reporting that the “Penguins have offered Jaromir Jagr a contract”:http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/2008/07/01/penguins_jagr/, adding that several other teams are in pursuit of the Rangers captain. Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review “described the conversations”:http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/chippediceblog/ between the two parties as “very preliminary.”
Update, 2:53 p.m.: Reader Alex comes back with another question:
Is it just me or is today going a bit slower than most July 1s of the past?
The answer is yes, and I know that not only because I just dozed off for a few minutes and there’s now a puddle of drool on my desk.
My theory has to do with the relatively thin talent pool this year, leaving a small number of players to sift through offers from an inordinate number of teams. Those players have the leverage, and until some of the big names are crossed off teams’ lists, everything else is going to move at a fairly deliberate pace.
A prediction: once the big dogs go—i.e. Campbell, Hossa, even Jagr—I believe a number of players will follow soon after.
Update, 2:29 p.m.: Radio station FAN590 (“and now TSN”:http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=242175&lid=headline&lpos=topStory_main) says it’s the Canucks who offered Sundin a two-year, $20 million deal (thanks to reader Jason for the heads-up). If this is true, good luck with that, Vancouver. Give us a call and we’ll try to explain the whole concept of a salary cap. Don’t worry, it took me a while to get, too.
Update, 2:13 p.m.: TSN chimes in with a report that says “Mats Sundin has offers from four teams”:http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=242175&lid=headline&lpos=topStory_main, including one team offering a multi-year deal worth more than $10 million a season. If this team is the Rangers, I grant you permission to form picket lines outside the Garden immediately.
Update, 2:09 p.m.: Crisis on the home front involving a 3-year-old who refuses to nap. It’s official: The uncertainty is getting to everyone…
Update, 1:48 p.m.: Another slight lull. My advice is stay tough, fight through it. This is a marathon not a sprint. Personally, I just made a sandwich.
Over/under on free agency day “lulls”: six.
Over/under on sandwiches today: about the same.
Update, 1:31 p.m.: Rumblings, unsubstantiated as of yet, that Sean Avery is definitely out the door and a signing elsewhere is imminent.
For the record, I’m not going to comment on every rumor because that’s a dangerous precedent. But in this instance, it is consistent with everything we had heard about Avery. But like I said, I have no confirmation of this.
Update, 1:17 p.m.: With the signing of Radim Vrbata, the Lightning officially have no money left. OK, I don’t know this for sure. But why wouldn’t I be surprised if one day next week their new owners look up and say, “Shoot, we need TWO goalies?”
Update, 1:05 p.m.: Among other questions, longtime reader Chris F. asks if the MSG.com ads on this site presents a conflict of interest since I cover the Rangers.
Actually, I wasn’t even aware of the ad until just now, and I’m pretty sure the ad is through Google, so it doesn’t really count.
So don’t worry. I’m not going to preface every piece of news with “In another brilliant stroke of genius by Glen Sather…”
Update 1 p.m.: Reader Rocco writes:
“At 37 years old, do you really think it’s worth investing in Mats Sundin for even just one year?”
You may recall I was against Sundin originally, but I’m OK with a reasonable contract if a) it convinces Jagr to stay; or b) Jagr leaves and it provides the Rangers with another weapon in his absence.
I will say, however, the Rangers are better served going after wings either via free agency or trades because I think moving Chris Drury away from center is a waste of the team’s best two-way forward.
Update, 12:56 p.m.: Reader Noah asks:
“If Avery follows the money elsewhere, do you think he will be mercilessly booed by the Garden Faithful?”
That’s a good one. I suppose it depends on how quickly he signs with another team, but I think most fans understand that Avery does want to re-sign with the Rangers and the team might not be willing to meet his demands.
A safe bet is he gets a mix of cheers and boos. But merciless boos? I doubt it.
Update, 12:48 p.m.: It’s official. The list of the Rangers’ unrestricted free agents:
Sean Avery, Mitch Fritz, Andrew Hutchinson, Jaromir Jagr, Darius Kasparaitis, Marek Malik, Paul Mara, Michal Rozsival, Brendan Shanahan, Martin Straka, Jason Strudwick, Steve Valiquette.
Update, 12:32 p.m.: Reader Bill asks regarding Jaromir Jagr:
“Is a 36/37 year old player with declining offensive skills and no value in the defensive zone worth $5 – $7 million per for two years?”
With this talent pool, I believe so. Fact is, if the Rangers don’t re-sign Jagr and can’t find a comparable wing to replace him—which they probably can’t—they take a significant step back.
The Rangers could be a strong up-the-middle defensive team without Jagr and I think regardless of what happens today, they’re still a playoff team next season. But I’m of the belief the most recent group wasn’t far off from being a legitimate contender, so I don’t see the merit in scaling back now
Update, 12:25 p.m.: And now our first lull in the action. Anyone know any card tricks?
Update, 12:08 p.m.: Reader Alex asks about Brian Campbell or Wade Redden. The short answer is both players would be upgrades for the Rangers, but given the short supply of top-tier free-agent defensemen, both players will likely be grossly overpaid. That doesn’t mean the Rangers won’t target them, but I think they’ll show restraint if the money spirals out of control.
Meanwhile, still no confirmation from the Rangers that no one has been re-signed.
Update, 12 p.m.: And we’re off and running. I am awaiting confirmation from the Rangers that none of their unrestricted free agents have been re-signed. Could the Marek Malik really be over? Who could forget that shootout goal against the Capitals, and…..well, that shootout goal against the Capitals?
Update, 11:47 a.m.: Well, that didn’t take long. Reader Kopfy chimes in that he thinks Jaromir Jagr will sign with the Penguins.
I know a lot of people have speculated about this, and I suppose I could see Jagr flourishing at right wing alongside Evgeni Malkin. But what doesn’t jibe is the idea that Jagr needs to be the centerpiece of a team, which he clearly wouldn’t be in Pittsburgh. Plus, the fans haven’t exactly embraced him in his returns to Mellon Arena. Or have you not noticed?
Pregame: OK, I already got my morning workout in, just had a peach that dripped all over my laptop, and I have several fans going in my office above the garage (other than ice rinks, I prefer fresh air). In other words, it’s time to get to work.
The plan is to just update this page as the day goes. If it gets too cumbersome, or if the news is just too big, we might reconsider. Otherwise, the latest news will be on the top of the page.
For starters, let me throw out this link to Larry Brooks’ story saying “Brendan Shanahan might sign with the Devils”:http://www.nypost.com/seven/07012008/sports/rangers/shanahan_may_sign_with_devs_118032.htm. We’ll see if it’s true, but it does make sense seeing how it will enable Shanahan and his family to stay in New York, and it will provide the offensively-starved Devils with more of a threat on the power play.
Meanwhile, I’m assuming many of you will be commenting below. But if you have something you definitely want me to see, I would urge you to e-mail me at sweinman@LoHud.com. Perhaps as the day goes on, I’ll answer some of your questions on the blog.