NEW YORK RANGERS: The jury is still out on my beloved Blueshirts, but I see more pluses than minuses for Sather this offseason.
Gomez for Higgins (and prospects McDonagh and Valentenko)? Anytime you can get rid of an overpaid underachiever, that's a good day. When you can trade said o.u. for a solid player with potential for a rebound season AND get a couple of decent prospects AND clear cap space, that's a great day. PLUS.
Using that newly-cleared cap space to land Gaborik, one of the top snipers in the league (when he's healthy)? Given Gaby's recent health history, this is a bit of a calculated risk. As a poker player, I can appreciate that. PLUS, but only if Gaborik pots 40+ this year.
Letting fan-favorite and sparkplug Colton Orr slip away and replacing him with Donald Brashear? Orr signed a 4yr, $4mil contract with Toronto, while the Rangers are going to pay Brashear $2.8mil over 2 years. Personally, I'd prefer four more years of Orr. MINUS.
Letting penalty-killer extrordinaire Blair Betts walk and signing Brian Boyle as his replacement? I haven't seen enough of Boyle to have an impression, but I know what the Rangers are losing. This would be a huge MINUS if Boyle weren't 6'7", 252 lbs. For now, we'll call this one EVEN.
Signing UFA Ales Kotalik? A proven 20-goal man for the reasonable price of 3yrs,$9mil. PLUS.
Re-signing Ryan Callahan? Getting this deal done was a must. For my money, Callahan was the Blueshirts' best skater last season. PLUS.
Swapping Korpikoski for Lisin? Lisin projects to be another 20+ goal scorer, but Korpi seems to me to be a more complete player. EVEN for now, and a PLUS if Lisin scores 25+.
While Ranger fans everywhere will continue to dream of a scenario in which Ottawa accepts Wade Redden and a like-new smart car for Dany Heatley, the reality is that re-signing Brandon Dubinsky is CRITICAL. Without Dubie, the Rangers don't even have anyone who can fake the role of #1 Center. You've had a good summer thus far, Slats - don't blow it now by losing Dubinsky.
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: I'll make this one short and sweet: Much has been said (and written) about the firing of GM Dale Tallon and the acquisition of Marian Hossa (and summary dismissal of Martin Havlat). Trade rumors abound as the entire league wonders which players will have to be moved in order for the Hawks to attempt to re-sign Kane, Toews and Keith next year. Fans and pundits debate whether or not to crown Chicago "09-10 Stanley Cup Contenders". Since winning the Cup is ultimately what it's all about (take that, Hokey Pokey!), it's important to note the utter failure of Chicago management to address the weakest link on the Blackhawks' roster: Cristobal Huet. Sure, they tried to deal Huet, but there were no takers for his (rather substantial) contract. Now, Chicago is stuck with a goalie who might've hit the pinnacle of his career over a 13-game span in the spring of 2008. Can Huet prove himself worthy of the starting job on a vastly improved Blackhawk squad? The answer to that question should tell you all you need to know about the Hawks' Cup chances.