NHL Free Agency Quick Hits: Rangers Do Alright, Fans Whine Anyway

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I didn’t want Tanner Glass either, but as I said yesterday on Twitter, amidst an overabundance of complaints about his signing, if the biggest thing Ranger fans have to complain about this off-season is an annual salary of $1.45 million being paid to a fourth liner, then that means Glen Sather did not do so bad after all. It’s a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Sather didn’t, hence the damning, and a furious one at that. The onslaught continues on social media today towards the team for signing a bottom-three grinder who really is not that good. Yes, I am disappointed, but it’s not the end of the world, and what’s done is done. In the weeks leading up to the beginning of free agency, I saw many a post from fans hoping that Sather “learned from his past mistakes” and will not sign anyone to a long-term deal. He didn’t. Now, fans complain that he did not make any big moves. Would you have rather had him blow everyone out of the water and offer perennial 60-point center Paul Stastny a seven-year deal, then complain when he does not turn into a 100-point scorer overnight? There were not that many players on the free agent market that had interest in coming to New York, or would have fit if they did, both physically and salary cap speaking. Instead of putting his ability to re-sign RFA’s Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard, and John Moore in jeopardy, he went out and signed veteran defenseman Dan Boyle for two years/$9 million, a steal, brought back Dominic Moore for 2 years/$3 million, which is pure perfection, and Tanner Glass at a questionable three years/$4.35 million. Horrible? Not exactly. Puzzling? Yes. Based on the reaction from fans, it is like he is the be all, end all of signings this season, as if the fan base was promised gold and given a tin cup instead. Ranger fans are some of the most passionate and knowledgeable in all of sports, but my goodness, there certainly are some dumb ones out there.

Brian Boyle left because he did not want to stay, plain and simple. He was not shafted by Sather, who then went crawling over to Glass. For weeks, we all knew bringing him back was going to be tough, and Stralman even tougher. So why is everyone surprised? Glass is not meant to be Boyle’s replacement in persona, merely a gap-fill on the fourth line which has to potential to look very different next season. If he happens to be as awful as everyone says, people who probably never watched him play a game in their lives, then he can be banished to Hartford with the money coming off the cap. Oh, but won’t someone claim him and screw the Rangers? Why would they? I thought he was the worst player in hockey history. Sure, he completes the un-holy trinity of head-scratchers that include Aaron Voros and Pat Rissmiller, but the Rangers will not live or die next season because of Tanner Glass. He will not cause them to make or miss the playoffs. A championship is not in the hands of a fourth liner. I would say the same thing about Boyle, though of course, I would have rather had him back.

As for Dan Boyle’s signing, he was another one thrown to the wolves until Brooks Orpik got one of the most disgusting deals in recent memory, at five years/$25 million, for a guy that can barely skate, and only hits—nothing else. Hell, when I heard how much he got (coming after the Pouliot and Bolland deals), I speculated that then-free agent Matt Niskanen was going to be paid in billions. Then, all of a sudden, people went, “Gee, that Boyle deal looks like a bargain now!” It is, and was even before that. From the moment he signed, every analyst on the NHL Network praised the deal. He left money on the table to come to the Rangers (three years/$15 million from the Islanders, and slightly less from the Red Wings) and he fills a much-needed void of a second-pair defenseman and powerplay quarterback. He’s no spring chicken at 38, but his play has not slipped in his old age, and it is only for two years. Stralman was a guy who was out for a paycheck, hidden under the guise of “family security” and chose tax-free Florida to settle down instead of high-priced New York. Whatever. He’s gone now, and that’s that. Bringing back Dominic Moore was an absolute no-brainer, and the Rangers got a deal with only $1.5 million per season, for two years. He is a face-off winner, grinder, leader, and can chip in a few goals every once in a while. After being a journeyman throughout his whole career, it is nice to see him remain a Ranger.

Based on yesterday’s moves, the Rangers did not get better, but they did not get worse either. Once the RFA’s are brought back and people take a deep breath, they will realize that the Rangers are alright, and surrounded by teams in the Eastern Conference who did not improve either. I am fully expecting a trade to be made in the next few weeks, so for now we will just have to sit tight.

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