The New York Rangers are staring down the barrel of some rather awkward situations with prominent restricted free agents this summer. If progress isn’t made in the next couple weeks, they’ll need to go to salary arbitration with the likes of Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan and Brian Boyle. That being said, GM Glen Sather narrowed down his list of problems by signing arbitration-eligible RFA Michael Sauer as well as one RFA who wasn’t eligible for arbitration in Artem Anisimov.
Sauer signed a two-year deal worth $2.5 million, according to Jesse Spector. Meanwhile, Andrew Gross reports that Anisimov agreed to a two-year, $3.75 million contract extension. Anisimov’s $1.875 million cap hit and Sauer’s $1.25 million mark drive the Rangers’ current payroll to $51.4 million, according to CapGeek.com. That gives the Rangers about $12.9 million to sign Boyle, Dubinsky and Callahan (or make other moves if they decide to let one or more of those players walk).
Sauer is a Rangers second round pick (40th overall in 2005) who finally found his way into the team’s rotation after playing just three games heading into the 2010-11 season. Sauer appeared in 76 games in 10-11, scoring 15 points while earning an impressive +20 rating while averaging 17:31 minutes per game. Sauer seemed promising in a role as a second pairing defenseman, working well with fellow young blueliner Ryan McDonagh.
The Rangers also drafted Anisimov in the second round (54th overall in 2006). After playing in just one game in 2008-09, Anisimov played all 82 games in both 09-10 and 10-11. He scored 28 points while averaging a little under 13 minutes per game in 09-10 before improving to 44 points and more than 16 minutes per game in 10-11. Anisimov spent some time as the center of the Rangers’ top line last season but should be their second or third line center with the addition of Brad Richards.
Both of these moves are solid ones for the Rangers, a team that stays afloat largely because homegrown talent picks up the slack for questionable free agent moves. If Richards actually works out, this team could really be onto something … but let’s make sure they lock up their remaining free agents before anyone gets too excited.