Ok, Bleacher Report hockey community, I'm here. I have yet to write a hockey article, but I needed to after the first day of free agency.
I'll get started by saying that I've followed the Rangers since the 1992-93 season (just in time) and have been through the highs and lows of the past 16 seasons. We've seen players come and go since their improbable run to the '94 Stanley Cup Championship.
Now, already 15 years later, one may begin to grow a little weary of the Blueshirts and their teasing.
Gomez was a playmaker, who scored a career-high 33 goals in the 2005-06 (his previous high was 19 in his rookie season). Gomez stayed on par, in terms of career averages, in his two seasons with New York (70 points in '07-'08 and 58 in '08-'09).
Drury, on the other hand, is a role player, who only scored 30 or more goals twice in his 10-year career. Scoring 25 goals in the 2007-08 season and 22 season last season was to be expected.
So, why are Ranger fans frustrated with these two players?
Simple—they want results, and they want them now. That’s how it is on Broadway. Obviously, Gomez and Drury are not perennial All-Stars, and they never had the goal-scoring ability to lead a team's offense.
However, as proven playoff veterans, they are looked upon in a way similar to Mark Messier in his early years with the Rangers. As a result of depending on these two players to carry New York to the Promised Land, they now see No. 19 (Gomez) up in the northern lights with Montreal.
The best move of the early offseason so far may be the subtraction of Gomez's contract. It’s unfortunate for him to come across as the scapegoat, but the real victim is Glen Sather.
The new NHL and its salary cap stipulations have seen Sather overspend on players that obviously don’t deserve it (Gomez, Drury, Redden, and Rozsival).
Now, Sather has to keep the team competitive while staying under the cap. With Gomez being shipped off to Montreal this week, it opened up cap space for Sather to use.
Enter Marian Gaborik and his new 5-year, $37.5 million contract. Compare that to Wade Redden (three goals in '08-'09) and the 6-year, $39 million contract he received last year, and Gaborik looks like a steal.
I've always been a fan of Gaborik and what he can bring to the table (notice the keyword, "can"). With two groin injuries and hip surgery (January 2009), one may be skeptical. I, for one, am wary of this signing; however, I expect big things from Gaborik when he is healthy.
I am happy with this signing, knowing that the Rangers didn’t trade away the likes of Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, and/or Marc Staal for Dany Heatley and the attitude he carries with him.
With the money Gaborik is receiving, one would think the Heatley trade possibilities are now out the window.
Gaborik is still considered one of the fastest skaters in the league with the goal-scoring abilities that the Rangers have lacked since Jaromir Jagr. If you put Gaborik on a line with Dubinsky and Zherdev (if he stays), you could see a whole new team at the Garden.
The Rangers still need a top center with Gomez gone, and they could make a more realistic move for Dallas's Brad Richards. With Richards winning a Stanley Cup under John Tortorella, it seems logical; however, with his inflated contract (just like Gomez's), the Rangers would almost be back at square one.
If Dallas could pick up some of Richards's contract, this could help make the move easier. With New York taking Sean Avery and his contract back, it almost seems like the Stars owe us, right?
If no moves are made to acquire a new center, then maybe Tortorella and Sather are comfortable enough with Brandon Dubinsky's development.
Personally, I am a big Dubinsky fan, but I do not think he is ready for that role.
With Gaborik's injury history, it would be smart to have another offensive threat. Richards may or may not be the answer, though. Getting him would still require the subtraction of either Dubinsky, Callahan, or Staal.
The Rangers would be better suited for a cheaper alternative in this department.
Only time will tell with the way Sather works his "magic."
In closing, I will argue for the sad signing of Donald Brashear. With Colton Orr leaving, Sather found it necessary to add the enforcer who ended Blair Betts's season during the playoffs.
This addition almost guarantees that Betts (the staple to the Rangers penalty killing) will not be re-signed. If Betts does stay with the Rangers, let's just hope that half of his salary is coming out of Brashear's pockets.
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