Shelley, Christensen, and Free Agency, Oh My 2!

Jody Shelley has been offered a contract. Supposedly its around $825,000 a year for the next two years. I wouldn’t have exactly signed him for a two-year, but Glen Sather knows what he’s doing, right? Yeah so anyways, at least we got him and what seems to be Brandon Prust locked down. We finally keep a line that works in tact. Now knowing our luck, they’ll be terrible just in time for the 2010-2011 season. Just kidding.

Erik Christensen was finally offered that contract we knew he was going to get eventually. Just like I said before, it was a two year deal in the neighborhood of $750,000 a year. Unfortunately, the cocky little center turned down the contract hoping to get his “value” in the open market. This kind of annoys me, because we took this guy when no one else wanted him and he thinks because he scored a few points with Marian Gaborik he has the right to make millions?
Hopefully, he’ll hit the open market and no one will want him and we can pick up even cheaper.
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Well I’ve decided to take a deep look into our possible Free Agency market since the big shin dig starts tomorrow at high noon (ET). Since we don’t have much cap space, and Mr. Sather has come out publicly saying we’re not going to be active, I’m only going to go over what seems to be the obvious positions we will pursue. I feel that we’ll only go after a sturdy back-up goaltender for Henrik Lundqvist and a solid center (possibly looking into someone to mesh well Gaborik and win face offs). We might pick up some other small-end guys, but if we get anyone big, I’ll be surprised. Although, look I’m writing about here, this IS the New York Rangers after all.

As for a decent back-up goalie, they’re looking for someone with stability that has experience (unlike Alex Auld) and can win those games that Henrik is not playing (unlike Steve Valiquette).
Possible candidates could be:

Antero Niittymaki - agreed by most theorists on the internet, Niitymaki would make the most sense and is probably the best fit for this position. Mainly because he’ll come cheap due to the plethora of Goalies in the market. He knows he’s looking at a back-up job, if he thinks otherwise, he’s insane. Niittymaki made $600,000 last year and he’ll want a raise after his decent performance last year. I can see the Rangers giving him somewhere around $750-850K. Hell, we paid Vally $725K a year to win against the Flyers. One year. I see Niittymaki as the best fit and our best choice for the back-up goalie position. We’ll see. I can also see us getting…

Patrick Lalime – Yeah, he’s 35, and yeah he’s no where close to the stable back-up he use to be. But we’re talking about price and value here. Last year he went 4-8-2 witha 2.81 GAA and a .907 SV%. Not terrible numbers. He made $1 million last year on the Buffalo Sabres and if they don’t take him back we could snatch him up for around the same price, probably less. Like I said if the Sabres don’t take him back, which looks unlikely, and they don’t grab this next guy who still lives in the Buffalo area, we might pursue…

Martin Biron – I think he’s the most talented on this list, even considering his terrible year (.896 & 3.27) on the Islanders, but c’mon, its the Islanders. They can make Patrick Roy look awful.  His last year price tag of $1.4 Million will come down quite a bit as well. I’d like to see him make the move. I’ve met him when I interned for the Islanders and he was an awesome guy. Kind of a recluse, but a great family man. He’ll be happy to stay in the New York area. He wants to either go to Montreal or Buffalo so only time will tell for him.

Two other guys I can see are Johan Hedberg, who had his best year last year with a .915 SV% and will definitely be worth a one year deal around $800,000 (even ESPN said so) and Vesa Toskala. I know what you’re saying, Toskala is a failed experiment. But he might do well as a back-up with a decent defense in front of him. I said decent, calm yourself. And his contract will come down DRASTICALLY from his $4 Million bloated price last year. He’ll probably accept anything to reprove himself, which is good if he’ll want to rebuild his confidence.

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Now as for Centers, this is like guessing the lottery numbers, but I’ll tell you the two I’d like to see us sign.

Eric Belanger – There’s a few things I like about Belanger, he’s not over the hill, he’s only 31. He played with Gaborik on the Wild for 2 years. He’s good at face-offs, notching a 56.4 win percentage last year. And he’ll probably come at a cheap price, he made $1.7 million last year, but after the Wild traded him to the Capitals, I think its clear neither team want him. Expect a deal for him to be around the same amount, maybe a little less, maybe a little more. He’s also bad ass. Check out this video.

The other player I’d like to us get is:
Kyle Wellwood – Kyle is only 26 years old and if we signed him to a long contract, you will not see me crying. He would probably mesh well with Gaborik and as well as Belanger, he can win face-offs (53.8% last year). He might stay in Vancouver on the Canucks but I can’t see the harm in trying. Wellwood made $1.2 million last year on the Canucks and could see an increase, but thus, my desire for a long contract. On the Rangers he would see more of a role that he had years ago on the Maple Leafs, which were his best years, statistically.

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What do you think we should do? You agree with me? You disagree? Well then get your own blog.
Just kidding. Love you. Mean it.

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Tags: Alex Auld Antero Niitymaki Brandon Prust Buffalo Sabres Eric Belanger Erik Christensen Glen Sather Jody Shelley Johan Hedberg Kyle Wellwood Marian Gaborik Martin Biron New York Rangers Patrick Lalime Steve Valiquette Vancouver Canucks Vesa Toskala

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