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Blog: Slap Shots
The Rangers’ interest in Alexander Radulov, as reported by The Post last Sunday, is conditional. General manager Glen Sather and the front office are weighing the prodigal Nashville winger’s upside against alternatives who might be available to fill the club’s need for an impact player up front, most notably including Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan and impending free agent Zach Parise.
But though the Blueshirts don’t appear ready to pull the trigger, we’re told there is at least one other team closer to committing to a deal for the rights to Radulov — who, all things being at least somewhat close to equal (with all things meaning, money), seems to prefer continuing his career in the NHL as opposed to returning to the KHL.
The argument against acquiring Nash is the same now as it was in the days preceding the February trade deadline — the overwhelming cost of his contract, which runs through 2017-18 at a charge of $7.8 million per season against a cap that will be recalibrated and might decrease beginning next season, plus the cost in terms of assets the Blue Jackets continue to demand in return for a player with no big-game record in nine NHL seasons.
Understand: Even if the Players’ Association eventually does accede to the owners’ expected request to reduce its cut of hockey-related revenue from 57 percent, there essentially is no chance the union will accept a rollback, meaning large contracts such as Nash’s could eat a greater percentage of a team’s cap over the next couple of years than over the past season or two.
This, too, about the Rangers: Though it is believed the club is focused on adding a winger of some renown, the organization’s most critical offseason analysis of personnel will center on young centers Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov, following twin playoff disappointments.
If the front office isn’t confident Stepan — who was never quite consistent enough throughout his sophomore year in a top-six role and whose play deteriorated as the playoffs evolved — or Anisimov — who spent nearly all season on the wing anyway, and whose play was erratic throughout — can provide meaningful production as the second-line pivot, then the search for help might be better retrained down the middle.
Which means Ryan Getzlaf most certainly would become an object of desire should the Ducks engage in discussions about moving the first-line pivot with one year at $5.325 million remaining on his contract before he goes free, and so would Jordan Staal, if the Penguins opt to move the center who has one year at $4 million remaining before he can hit the open market (under current regulations).
Should the Rangers sign impending Wisconsin free-agent defenseman Justin Schultz (and no one is suggesting they are front-runners, much less a lock), that’s the day Michael Del Zotto eminently would become more of a trade chip.
* Though general managers expressed near universal distaste for the current choked-up state of the game, in which more and more teams pack their defensive zones inside out while adopting shot-blocking as a primary focus, there apparently is no appetite for adopting the “no sliding” rule that would eliminate much of the problem.
Imagine if the NBA allowed its players to kick their legs out to block passes, or if the NFL allowed defenders to face-guard receivers. That’s the NHL not only allowing guys to slide in front of shots, but encouraging it.
* There is a precedent for a team trading a suspended over-35 player to create cap space to a club willing and eager to accept the hit, so the Bruins (under current regulations) presumably could deal Tim Thomas if the goaltender does in fact sit out next season, but it’s one that could cost Boston if that’s the route taken by GM Peter Chiarelli.
When the Devils sent the suspended Vladimir Malakhov (and his $3.6 million hit) to the Sharks in order to get under the cap days before the 2006-07 season, they had to surrender their first-round pick to San Jose in order for GM Doug Wilson to make the deal, in which he sent little of value other than relief back to Lou Lamoriello.
A floor team likely would have interest, but the definition of the floor might change under the new labor agreement, where actual payroll would become the floor rather than potential cap dollars, including unreachable bonuses and off-roster buyouts.
Had those conditions been in place last year, anyone believe Nino Niederreiter would have spent the season wasting away — uh, sorry; learning how to be a pro — on the Island?
This just in: Ray Bourque thinks Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Justin Williams and Simon Gagne should ask Ed Snider for the parade route in Philadelphia.
Alexander Radulov, Rick Nash, NHL, NHL, Derek Stepan, Rangers, front office, front office, Larry BrooksFollow Larry, Artem Anisimov, Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, the PlayersвЂ™ Association