New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

Day one of free agency has come and gone for the New York Rangers. It’s time to throw Jeff Gorton into the court of public opinion.

Your honor, today we will bring before this court of public opinion the case of Jeff Gorton Vs. The New York Rangers’ Faithful.

If fans were to have any hope going into next season, the right moves need to be made throughout the free agency period.

This doesn’t necessarily mean big moves, but the right ones.

With the Rangers’ tight cap situation buzzing around like an annoying mosquito, Gorton was given the difficult task of maneuvering around bad contracts while filling the many voids that plagued the team throughout last season.

New York Rangers Free Agency Open Thread

A sub-par bottom six and defensive woes were at the top of that list, and Gorton wasted no time addressing said issues once free agency kicked off yesterday afternoon.

But judge, the reason we are bringing this case before the court is to examine whether or not Gorton made moves that will benefit this Rangers’ team in the long run.

The Rangers made it crystal clear that they had no interest in resigning trade deadline acquisition, Eric Staal.

Staal only registered six points (3 goals/3 assists) in 20 regular season games with the Rangers, and tallied no points in five playoff games.

The Minnesota Wild treated Staal to a three year deal worth 10.5M.

So long Eric.

Gorton’s next non-move was a bit surprising, as Viktor Stalberg was picked up by the Carolina Hurricanes for one year at 1.5M.

Stalberg didn’t exactly light up the stat sheet (9 goals/ 11 assists) last season, but he did inject the lineup with energy and grit at times throughout the season when the rest of the roster had gone missing.

We’ll come back to Stalberg later on.

May it please the court, I’d like to present the court with four players who were signed by the Rangers’ organization yesterday.

Michael Grabner (RW): 2 years, 1.65M

Nathan Gerbe (C): 1 year, 600K

Adam Clendening(D): 2 years, 600K/300K

Michael Paliotta (D): 1 year (two-way deal), 600K/70K

When analyzing these deals, it’s important to remember that Dominic Moore is current on the open market. Nathan Gerbe is a possible replacement not only for Moore, but also Oscar Lindberg who will most likely miss time at the beginning of the season.

Gerbe only registered three goals and four assists in 47 games for Carolina last season, but does add some speed to an aging Rangers’ roster.

He’s not exactly a power-forward, though.

Gerbe is a player that will most likely be sent to Hartford at some point in the season, which makes the signing a low-risk move.

Both Adam Clendening and Michael Paliotta are depth signings for the defense. Paliotta will most likely spend a good portion of next season in Hartford and Clendening could take McIlrath’s spot from last season as the seventh defenseman.

Michael Grabner was by far the “biggest” signing of the day for the Rangers. The speedy forward will add some grit to the bottom six and also replacement the void left by Viktor Stalberg.

Listen, I understand that Grabner’s two-year contract gives the Rangers more maneuverability moving forward, but I would have loved to see Gorton keep Stalberg, especially for 1.5M.

Having said that, Gorton still has eight RFA’s to sign, so every dollar will count moving forward.

Before I leave the jury to deliberate the moves made by Gorton yesterday, keep in mind that this process will take a couple of years.

Rebuilding a team (or restructuring as the Rangers are calling it) takes time and patience. Remember back in the late 2000’s when the Rangers were consistently making it to the first round of the playoffs but were not Stanley Cup contenders?

That is exactly what I would expect from the New York Rangers next season, and that’s OK.

The alternative is a situation in which the Rangers are stuck in mediocrity year after year with no end in sight (aka, the dark ages).

So what say you, Blueshirt Faithful? Did Gorton make the smart moves yesterday?

NEXT: Eric Staal Takes A Jab At Blueshirt Organization

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