We are now less than forty-eight hours away from the busiest day of the NHL off-season, free agent frenzy! Although there are not as many big names out there than there have been in year’s past, it still proves to be an exciting day, regardless of what team one cheers for.
Teams got busy this afternoon, waiving dead weight from the rosters in an attempt to free up extra space for Thursday afternoon.
The Anaheim Ducks waived Nathan Oystrick, the Lightning waived Todd Fedoruk, Florida waived Ville Koistinen, Calgary waived Ales Kotalik, the Senators said good-bye to one-time fifty goal scorer Jonathon Cheechoo, the Coyotes waived two players, Petteri Nokalainen and Jim Vandermeer, and the Rangers were the busiest, cutting ties with Aaron Voros, Donald Brashear, and Patrick Rissmiller.
One cannot help but feel bad for Rissmiller, who was signed two seasons ago to have a spot on the bottom six. The Rangers then signed Voros later that same day, and Rissmiller all but lost his job, appearing in only two games for the team since 2008. Hopefully he can find a job somewhere else and play with some regularity.
For Donald Brashear, who I actually liked, this comes as no surprise since Glen Sather announced weeks ago that he would never play another game for the Rangers. Hopefully the Rangers will handle this situation smartly, so they will not be on the hook for any of his salary.
Lastly, hopefully third time is a charm for Aaron Voros, as he was waived once again this afternoon. With the exception of a hot streak in his first month as a Ranger in 2008, he has brought absolutely nothing. No offense, no checking, and has been a relative punching bag in the majority of fights he has been in.
Something just tells me, though, that getting rid of Voros is easier said than done. He is best buddies with Henrik Lundqvist and Marian Gaborik, the two most important players on the team. Sean Avery is also thrown into the mix when these four “hang out” during the course of the season and the summer. That gives him a lot of pull with the organization, in my eyes, but hopefully that won’t stop him from finding work elsewhere.
Meanwhile, for Jonathon Cheechoo, it really is sad the fall this guy has taken since being on top of the hockey world in the 2005/06 season, when he scored 56 goals. As Adam Raider noted on the 100 Ranger Greats Facebook page, “I’m amazed at the turn Cheechoo’s career has taken. His goal totals over the years are as follows: 56, 37, 23, 12, 5. He is on pace for negative-7 goals next season.”
As a sad note, the Rangers and Red Wings lost a former long-time member of their defensive corps today, Willie Huber, who passed away due to a heart attack. Huber appeared in 655 games with the Rangers and Red Wings, as well as brief stints with the Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers. He recorded 104 goals and 217 assists for 321 career points. He was an all-star in 1983 in the midst of a 43 point season.
Huber will be remembered mainly as a Red Wing, as he had his best offensive seasons there. But I will always remember watching him on episodes of Rangers Classics on MSG, during the Rangers thrilling playoffs runs in the 1980′s with the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers.
He was way too young to go. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.