Rangers Off-Season Officially Begins

Now that the draft is concluded it’s time to preview the upcoming off-season for the New York Rangers. I stayed away from submitting my own mock drafts or draft pick profiles since I don’t have the insights necessary to offer anything you haven’t already seen on TSN or other hockey websites. I don’t watch Canadian Junior hockey so aside from some highlights I haven’t seen enough to formulate my own thoughts.

I will however convey the general feeling of disappointment felt by Ranger fans in the selection of Dylan McIlrath with our first round pick, 10th overall. Given the unexpected drop down the draft board by Defenseman Brandon Gormley and Cam Fowler, rated 4th and 5th respectively by TSN, the Rangers found themselves in the enviable position of being able to add one of this draft’s best players several slots later than anticipated. Instead the Rangers decided McIlrath was their man.

Was it the right decision? We won’t know the answer to that question for several years yet. Yes, the Blueshirts do have good young talent on the blue line with Marc Staal, MDZ and Ryan McDonagh (assuming they can get him under contract). In 3 or 4 years when McIlrath is NHL-ready, Staal will be 27, MDZ will have 4 years NHL experience under his belt at 23, and McDonagh will be 24. If McIlrath develops into a Derian Hatcher type, as was suggested in some scouting reports, the Rangers will have a formidable top 4 defense.

No, it wasn’t a sexy pick like what we wanted but maybe it will work out. Leading up to the draft, Rangers fans were looking forward to adding a skilled forward like; Jeff Skinner, Vladimir Taresenko, Nino Neiderreiter or Ryan Johansen. However, we as fans have a lot of faith in Gordie Clark; the man responsible for drafting the current crop of solid Ranger prospects. He’s earned the benefit of the doubt from fans so if he decided McIlrath was the right choice then I will temper my criticism.

As for my ideas on the rest of the Ranger off-season, I plan on attacking it on three fronts. The first will look into our own free agents, both unrestricted and restricted, my thoughts on re-signing them and how much that may take. Part II will focus on outside free agents that may be of interest and attainable given our cap situation. The 3rd part we’ll look at the trade market to see what Glen Sather may try to do there.

Sather already got the ball rolling in the trade market by dealing D Bobby Sanguinetti, a former 1st round pick in 2006, to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for the 157th selection (Round 6) this year and the 2nd round choice in 2011 previously acquired by Carolina from Washington in the Joe Corvo deal.

This deal tells me the Rangers may be closer to signing former Canadien 1st round pick, D Ryan McDonagh. Reports earlier this offseason erroneously stated a deal was already reached. But for the Rangers to move Sangs, they must feel comfortable McDonagh is close to signing on the dotted line.

I hate to give up a young player with upside but Sangs’ value wasn’t particularly high. He seemed to have fallen out of favor with Rangers management. Glen Sather said Sanguinetti, a native of Trenton, N.J., was a nice kid, but didn't see him fitting in with the Rangers given their defensive lineup. I feel fairly good in adding the pick this year, used on Swedish RW Jesper Fasth, and adding Washington’s 2nd round pick next year. That pick likely won’t be until the mid 50’s but could still yield a solid player next year.

Next: Ranger Free Agents; Who’s Staying and Who’s Going?