Different looking Blueshirts for next season
If you're a New York Rangers fan, this has not been the case for your favorite hockey team. The Rangers have either let players sign elsewhere or buy them out in hopes of re-tooling the club for next season.
Prior to the start of free agency, the team went ahead and bought out Brad Richards. While Richards, now a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, had a solid regular season (20 goals and 31 assists for 51 points...good for third on the team in scoring) and a decent postseason (five goals and seven assists for 12 points), the fact that he had six years remaining on his contract spelled the end of Richards's time on Broadway.
Yesterday, the Rangers lost three players on the first day of free agency. Both forward Brian Boyle (signed three-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning) and defenseman Anton Stralman (signed five-year, $22.5 million deal with the Lightning) signed deals with the Lightning while forward Benoit Pouliot signed a five-year, $20 million deal with the Edmonton Oilers and will be with their respective clubs for the foreseeable future.
Boyle was more than a well-liked player for the Rangers. He was someone that played hard on a nightly basis, stuck up for his teammates, sacrificed his body and did what he could to contribute offensively. Boyle also had a strong showing with the Rangers' during their long playoff run this year as he had eight points (three goals and five assists) in 25 games.
On a team that was defensively sound all year long, Stralman was one of the team's best blue liners. He played on the second pairing, logged a lot of minutes and next to Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi, was the team's most consistent defenseman this season.
Pouliot was an intriguing case for the Rangers this season. He is someone that has a lot offensive talent (15 goals and 21 assists for 36 points), but at the same time, did not show it on a nightly basis while also being prone to taking untimely penalties.
While Richards, Boyle, Stralman, and Pouliot all left New York for different opportunities, the Rangers managed to keep one of their best utility players in Dominic Moore along with bringing in veteran defenseman Dan Boyle (two-year, $9 million deal) and rugged forward Tanner Glass (three-year, $4.5 million deal).
There is no doubt that Moore earned his two-year, $3 million deal with the Blueshirts yesterday. After taking a season off to deal with the loss of his wife, Moore had a solid regular season with 18 points (six goals and 12 assists) and was one of the team's unlikely best players in the postseason with his timely goals (three goals and five assists for eight points) and his ability to fit in on any line.
Dan Boyle should be more than a solid addition to the team's already strong defensive corps. Boyle is someone who can produce from the point, be a solid presence on the team's power play, and provide veteran leadership to a still somewhat young Rangers' blue line.
Glass is someone that will play on the team's fourth line next season. He can kill penalties and fight, which is not an upgrade over Boyle, but is someone that the Rangers felt they needed and someone who played under team head coach Alain Vigneault when he was bench boss of the Vancouver Canucks.
These deals may not be much, but it shows that the team is going to go with a different look next season. The team should have a lot more youngsters in their line-up, which means that offensively, Vigneault will have a lot more speed and creativity to work with next season.
While it is tough to see the likes of Richards, Boyle, Stralman and Pouliot go, change is a good thing and for the Rangers, is something they need to adapt to if they want to play for hockey's Holy Grail again come next June.