Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rangers Targeting Boston's Phil Kessel

The Boston Globe today published a story putting the New York Rangers in the hunt for Bruin's forward Phil Kessel, an unsigned Restricted Free Agent.

Boston's problems in signing the right winger are obvious. Their payroll is already at $55 million, just about $1.8 below the salary cap line. Their young star forward is looking for a multi-year deal. If they give him anything approaching what he wants - around $4 million per - it will put them well over the cap. This is actually permissible for the next few weeks - but would force Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli to have to trade or demote to the minors a current roster player by October 1st.

Would Kessel help the Rangers? You bet. Look at his stats for last season:
  • In just 70 games, he scored 36 goals and added 24 assists for 60 points.
  • His plus minus was an awesome +23.
  • And my favorite stat - the goals-per-shot-on goal was over 15%

All three of those stats would have led the New York Rangers last year in those categories.

And with opening night just about 3 weeks away (feels great to say that) the pressure is on the Boss-town GM to fix his salary cap mess. A trade for his young winger coming off a career year may be his only option. He certainly doesn't sound like he's going to dump other players to sign Phil:

While you like to bring along players of skill and youth and keep them in your organization, I also have to be cognizant of other dynamics,’’ he told the Boston Globe yesterday.

Chiarelli also described the contract situation as an "impasse", adding: “I’d like to have him in the mix, but obviously he’s not . . . and obviously teams are interested.’’

Who are those other teams? Rumors have three teams in the mix - the Predators, the Leafs (who don't have much to trade and may go the offer sheet route), and the New York Rangers.

Does he fit Tortorella's ideal mold for a player? Let's see:

  • Youth - he's just 21 years old.
  • Size - not huge but 6 feet and 195 pounds
  • Speed - he's known for his skate ability
  • American - he's born in Madison Wisconsin - and yes, the Ranger's do favor US-born players

So, yes - he'd be a huge addition here and would look pretty good as the 2nd option on the Gaborik line.

The word is that Toronto - who is talent poor but cap rich - is working on an offer sheet for the RFA right now. That means Boston will have to act fast if they want to get the most value they can for their player - because they can't match offer sheet and stay under the cap.

This means a small window of opportunity for Glen Sather and John Tortorella to jump in and grab the player.

We like Kessel's game and we like the Ranger's interest. Good hunting fellas.

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