And finally we have arrived, the biggest question mark of the New York Rangers off-season; Derek Boogaard. Glen Sather is one of those general managers who want's his team to have a "hired gun." And when your hockey team is playing in the Atlantic Division with teams like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New Jersey, it's hard to argue that having an enforcer isn't vital to your success.
Anyway, the enforcer role is one that the Rangers have been trying to successfully fill for the past few years. Two years ago Glen Sather didn't re-sign Colton Orr, who ended up with the Toronto Maple Leafs thanks to a nice and shiny 4-year $4 million contract. In order to fill Orr's shoes, last year Sather went out and signed Donald Brashear to a two-year $2.8 million dollar contract. Brashear ended up being a complete bust, and was subsequently waived and then traded a few weeks ago. Jody Shelly, a late season acquisition last year, was also allowed to walk this off-season; finding himself in Philadelphia for the next three years.
So when the doors opened to free agency this year Glen Sather knew that he needed an enforcer. It didn't take Sather long to find one, signing Boogaard to a four-year contract which will see him cost the Rangers $1.625 million in cap space. The move caused instant hysteria in Rangers fans, especially since Shelly (who wanted to remain a Ranger) signed for $1.1 million a year.
When you basically come down and analyze the move, you can't be upset with Boogaard. He is one of the scariest players in the league, he loves to drop the gloves and he can easily be the enforcer that the Rangers have been missing since Orr walked out of the door. However, you can easily be upset with the contract.
Look, here is what it really all comes down to. Boogaard brings a ton to the table that a lot of other NHL enforcers can't do. Sather wanted an enforcer, and he got one of the best guys for the job in the NHL. Boogaards brings a "Scare factor" that not many guys can match, and his presence on the bench should keep the elbows low and the cheap shots nonexistent. It should also keep players at bay when storming Henrik Lundqvist's crease.
When you look at it from that angel, Boogaard is a tough signing to dislike. Those are all things that Rangers fans have been begging to see, and they are all things that Boogaard
will should deliver. But his contract is still a huge part of this argument.
The general enforcer usually makes around a million dollars, sometimes the good one's make a little more. But for Boogaard to make almost $1.7 million is a little troubling. Yea, he was the best man for the position, and yes, the Edmonton Oilers were doing everything in their power to out-bid the Rangers for his services; but for a team strapped so close to the cap the cap his is huge. In the end the Rangers truly only overpaid by somewhere around $400,000, not a huge number, but big enough to potentially irritate future moves for the team.
Regardless, it was a position that needed to be filled, but a contract to forget. It's especially troubling to think about has fast Boogaard was signed, and how much work guys like Erik Christensen and Dan Girardi had to go through to ink their name on a contract. And let me just add that Marc Staal is still un-signed.
Glen Sather's final grade for the Derek Boogaard signing: C+/B-