Brooks On Rangers Could Be Leafs

Interesting column by Larry Brooks on what the Rangers obviously need to do (according to Brooks) to become an elite team in the NHL, get an elite superstar up front. I raise this because if Brooks thinks the Rangers are devoid of talent, where does that put our Buds? Take a look below and replace all Ranger references with Maple Leaf ones….do you buy in???

Before that, recall what I have said about Bettman and how this Coyotes thing will shake out? These guys are vindictive. Another team may end up here, but Balsillie won’t be anywhere near it. Now proof of the second plan is public. The Argo boys are being mentioned and bet all your Terry Greer rookie cards that they are plan A for the second team here. It may not be this year or next, but Bettman would sooner make them the proud owners of a team here than Balsillie. Look for the Argo boyz on Primetime sports with McCown on Monday to discuss. He has put them on to talk Argos in January before, clearly they owe him that right????

Here is Brooke:
“IF WE’VE learned any thing from this year’s playoffs, it’s that it is im possible to thrive in the NHL without elite offensive talent. Which means we have also learned — or have been reminded — how far away the Rangers are from contending for a championship. The Penguins have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, the Caps have Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green, the Hurricanes have Eric Staal, and the Rangers . . . well, and the Rangers have no one remotely comparable. Fact is, the Blueshirts don’t have a forward who would be selected in the top, what, 100 in a league-wide dispersal draft. Fact also is that it has become nearly impossible to get a top-end, difference-making talent any way other than by bottoming out and hitting the draft lottery jackpot, for it is rare indeed that an elite player gets to free agency in his prime. Which brings us to 28-year-old Marian Gaborik, eligible to become a free agent on July 1 following a season in which he, a) turned down an $80 million contract extension from the Wild because he had no interest in continuing to play for Jacques Lemaire; and, b) was limited to 17 games because of a hip injury for which he underwent surgery in early January. Gaborik is one of the NHL’s great talents, having scored 219 goals in 502 games after joining Minnesota as the third-overall selection in the 2000 Entry Draft (after Rick DiPietro and Dany Heatley). But he also has been a chronic visitor to the injured reserve, having played 65 games or fewer in four of his last five seasons. As such, he presents a significant risk, even though he nearly carried the Wild into the playoffs after returning for the final 11 games of the season. The question is whether he is a risk worth taking for the Rangers, who historically have swung and missed in free agency more often than Alex Rodriguez in the playoffs. And the answer is . . . well, the answer is a qualified yes, if the Blueshirts could somehow convince Gaborik to accept a one-year, incentive-laden contract for which he qualifies because of the number of days he spent on IR. It isn’t ideal, but the Rangers could apply up to approximately $4.25M in bonuses to the 2010-11 cap, if necessary. They are choked under the cap, choked beyond belief really, when considering how little they have to show for their expenditures. But it would be a mistake of significant proportions if the Rangers don’t put on a full-court press July 1 to convince Gaborik to try Manhattan by promising to make him the NHL’s highest-paid player if he hits his marks. There is no guarantee Ilya Kovalchuk ever will become available to the Rangers, none whatsoever. There is no player on the roster other than lone untouchable Henrik Lundqvist for whom the Rangers could acquire an elite offensive force by trade, though if we were in GM Glen Sather’s golf shoes, we’d be calling Ottawa and offering Marc Staal for Heatley, we’d be calling Tampa and offering Staal for Vincent Lecavalier or Steven Stamkos, we’d be calling Colorado and offering Staal for the third-overall selection in the Entry Draft, and you get our drift. Forget Mike Cammalleri, a nice player who is going to get way too much money as a free agent. Forget acquiring Jonathan Cheechoo, who has had two consecutive bad seasons. Forget Brian Gionta, who belongs on the other side of the river. Forget B players. Montreal and L.A., both of which have cap space and a serious interest in dealing for the very available Lecavalier, likely will be in on Gaborik if Tampa keeps its captain. Vancouver likely will be a player if the Sedins skip town. And Minnesota will try to convince Gaborik to stay home now that Lemaire has left the building. But Gaborik’s history of injury may prevent him from hitting the long-distance home run he’s seeking. In that case, the potential reward overwhelms the risk of offering Gaborik a one-year, bonus-heavy contract to get him to Broadway, with the implied promise of riches to follow a healthy season”


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