Thursday, July 03, 2008

No room for Jagr on new look Rangers

On the heels of losing Sean Avery to the Stars, Rangers GM Glen Sather has closed the book on Jaromir Jagr as well. Upstaging the press conference to announce the signing of Markus Naslund and Dimitri Kalinin, Slats told reporters that he has informed Jagr that the team will be moving on without him.

I think the New York media themselves will miss the enigmatic Jagr the most. You have to admit he's been a hell of a bargain for the Rangers at just under $5M per year. Though Sather says they never talked numbers, you have to believe it would have taken more than that resign the captain.

Truth be told, if Jagr had clicked with either Scott Gomez or Chris Dury, bringing him back at any price would have been a no brainer. Equally, if Avery could keep his off-ice antics to a minimum, it would have been easy to justify giving the grating winger $4M. In both cases the Rangers chose their future over the present. Jagr's return would have meant another year of Gomez and Drury pushed down the depth chart - and Dubinsky up it before his time...or worse yet, big $$ to Mats Sundin. And who believes Avery would ho have tried to stay in management's good books (remember the media gag?) once he got his NY payday?

Don't get me wrong, both players are worth what they'll earn next season. The price was just too steep for Broadway. And, no, that still doesn't explain giving Wade Redden $6.5M a year.

Unfortunately, Jagr's exit means goodbye to Marty Straka as well. That's a loss I'll feel deeply as I loooove him. I wish I had gotten a Straka jersey at Cosby's when I had the chance.

So out with Jagr, Avery, Straka, Marek Malik, Fedor Tyutin, Christian Backman, and probably Brendan Shanahan. I think Ryan Hollweg's days are numbered as well. I was about to add Paul Mara to this list, but apparently he's in talks to return.

In with Naslund, Nikolai Zherdev, Dan Fritsche, Patrick Rissmiller, and Aaron Voros up front; and Redden and Kalinin on the blueline. The Rangers still need to add a 6th defenseman (if they don't resign Mara) and some scoring depth at wing.

The stars won't be shining as bright on Broadway next season, but that may be a good thing. The Rangers are trying to build themselves into a younger, more hungry team. But now that fans have finally tasted the playoffs for a few years running, will they be satisfied with a quick fourth trip (which would be impressive considering the roster Sather has cobbled together) or is it the Cup or nothing?

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