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Free agency weekend in review
Posted By On July 3, 2011 @ 6:48 am In Hockey,New York Rangers,NHL | 442 Comments
1) This is mostly about Brad Richards, and though I had a whole bunch of reservations about the contract, and still do, and though I had a whole boatload of concerns about his melon, and still do, there isn’t even a hint of a question that the Rangers are much, much better today. 
2) Away from Richards for a moment, Washington was as big a winner as there is. Got a first and second rounder for a goalie it wasn’t going to use anymore, added some grit, and stole one of the best goalies in the whole darn league in Tomas Vokoun for $1.5M.
3) Not sure what the heck Philly was (is) doing, or if it’s better or worse now. I think they upgraded the goalie position, but, my God, if they’d thought it out, maybe they could have gotten Vokoun who is miles better than Ilya Bryzgalov and like $49 million cheaper.
4) You can sqwauk all you want about the money Richards got, but there were a lot worse contracts signed: James Wisniewski. Ville Leino. Ed (older than dirt itself) Jovanovski.
5) Mike Rupp was a nice pickup for the Rangers. Expectations will be low. I think he will exceed them. How long before John Tortorella talks about his “bite” and “jam?”
6) Good job by Glen Sather getting his offer to Richards in there moments after noon, via conference call, and without the dog-and-pony show in Missisauga. And then telling everybody about it. Good for him.
7) Does anybody really expect that Jaromir Jagr has anything left at 39? And wasn’t Jagr just a beacon of etiquette the way he treated Pittsburgh and Detroit?
8) It sure became clear this weekend how bad the CBA is … for the owners. Remember what a victory everybody said it was for the owners’ side? Well, the cap brought everybody’s expenses way up, and the floor made it worse, and now you have teams that can’t afford to spend money spending silly money on mediocre players just to get to the mandated minimum. Idiotic. And now I worry that there might have to be another lockout as they try to fix it (and probably make it worse).
9) I’ll say this. Nobody on television anywhere on this continent covers any sport the way TSN covers hockey. Whatever network is second, in any sport, is not even close. Those guys get the goods and deliver them. And I’m not normally one to praise TV types.
10) I don’t normally do make-believe lines. But after seeing so many proposals this weekend, the ones I’d like to see for your NYR: Stepan-Richards-Gaborik, Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan, Fedotenko-Boyle-Prust, Avery-Rupp-Wolski/Zuccarello/other. That’s barring the acquisition of a legit first-line winger.
11) … Because, I don’t think Wolski or Erik Christensen is the answer there, I don’t think Vinny Prospal will be back, and I think Stepan has the hands, the skating, the nose for the net, and the defensive responsibility to get a shot there. And he won’t dog it like some others we won’t name (woof, woof).
12) That said, I think the Rangers now have enough legit top-9 or 10 forwards to make a deal, to trade some of their future for some now. I wonder if Sather will be looking to do that. And if he can find a way to make another big splash and fit a legit first-liner under the cap.
13) I’m sure I ticked off some people when I warned that this Richards contract could be Drury 2.0. I still think it could be on the back end, with the annual cap hit and the full no-move clause. Again, right now, the Rangers are better by a lot, and right now they don’t have cap issues. Come back in a few years.
14) One of the dumb questions on the Tortorella conference call was about whether Richards might be the captain. Hello? Ryan Callahan is the captain. He is. Guaranteed, signed, sealed, delivered, no-doubter. The only thing holding up the announcement, I’m sure, is that Tortorella wants to make it official in the room, with all of his guys present, before the season. And to tell the guys before he tells us.
15) Finally, as our friend Ria the Silent Bonehead said last night: Thanks to Sean Mayer, LoHud’s sports editor, for letting me blow off the Yankees-Mets game and stay here with all you nuts all day and night (not to mention the day before, the night before that, the day before that).
16) OK, one more thing. Not to pat ourselves on the back, but with all your patronage this weekend, RR went over 9 million views (since we started keeping count, whenever that was). So take a bow, Boneheads.
AP photo, above.
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