Markus Naslund has apparently decided to retire from the NHL?!?! (story link included at bottom)
Now, I am not entirely killed by this, considering I originally thought we only had Naslund under a one year deal, and I had no problem with letting him walk if we had. Naslund was miscast when he came to the Rangers. He was supposed to be the guy to take the leadership and goal scoring place of Jagr. I like Naslund, but at age 34, he was a complimentary player, yet another in the long line of complimentary players on this team. I knew he'd be capable of getting his 25 goals, and almost approximating jagr's goal scoring, but he was not the dynamic, one on one, big game threat jagr was. (It was part of the reason that 10 months ago I thought the Rangers were doomed for mediocrity and a first round exit....if I had only not lied to myself for the past year, think of all the heartache I could have avoided, always stick with the gut). Naslund played solid for us, but he was not the big game threat we needed, so his departure is actually quite welcome....and curious.
It is very hard for me to remember the last player that retired with years and money left on his contract, and wasn't injured. Heck, most guys with injuries like an Albert Belle in baseball, or a Allan Houston in basketball, do their best to "rehab" them, and keep claiming they will return for YEARS to keep accepting those paychecks (because once you retire, the contract is done). Naslund is walking away from at least 3 million dollars here, and he never hinted at this being his last season. Very strange. Especially when you consider how badly the Rangers need an elite scorer, and how badly strapped they were with the cap situation. If Naslund returns, their is almost no way the Rangers could go after a marian hossa or gaborink (if they are stupid....which sather is) and still field a full team. There chances aren't great now, but they just got a lot better.
I liked Naslund, and I thought he did a fine job, but facts are he won't be that hard to replace. Drury and Gomez stepping up and having stronger years next year could almost account for his production, and a full year of a guy like antropov, and we probably score the same amount of goals, for 3 million less.
I wanna know how this retirement went down. Did the rangers tells him they were going to buy him out anyway, so why not retire, save them the cap space, and they would slip a 3-4 million dollar check into some off shore account for him? It would make sense, the Rangers were dead in the water for this free agency class, and looking at another first round exit next year (assuming they made the playoffs scoring 2 goals a game all season), so why not make it worth it for Naslund to retire since he was going to get bought out for less money anyway? Maybe Naslund returns to play overseas and makes more money there, and returns to the NHL a year from now with a "hunger" to return to the game? Who knows?
But the rangers have options now, with Naslund gone, they can weigh how realistic a run at a guy like Hossa would be, and proceed accordingly with Antropov.
Dave Pucks Adds:
Here are Naslund's stats for the Rangers last year:
24 Goals + 22 Assists = 46 Points in 82 games. Plus Minus of -10. Goals/shot = 11.2%
Playoffs: 1 goal + 1 assist = 2 Points in 7 games (all in game 1). 1 goal in 10 shots = 10%
Plus Minus of +2 (which is impressive considering we were outscored 19-11).
But in games 5 ,6 and 7 he had 4 shots and no points.
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