Ranger fans woke up this morning to the news that Vaclav "Vinny" Prospal had been signed to a 1 year deal worth $1.1 million, according to Larry Brooks of the NY Post here.
Recently bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning, it was known that the Czech forward was not going to be looking for a large contract as the Lightning owe him around $1.2 million every year until the 2014-2015 season. Instead Prospal was looking more for a place where he could get another crack at the Stanley Cup, and what better place than where your Stanley Cup winning head coach is?
Prospal played under John Tortorella with the Tampa Bay Lightning and certainly knows the style of play Torts likes and how to prepare for such a system. A very versatile forward, Prospal has been known to play both center and wing which gives some flexibility to the coaching staff looking for a number one pivot. This signing gives the Rangers some insurance in case Brandon Dubinsky cannot handle being the top line anchor.
Of course, Dubinsky's contract situation is still being ironed out. In the same article, Brooks mentions that Dubinsky may sign a one year deal and go through what Henrik Lundqvist did two years ago. Lundqvist signed a one year deal and was given a contract extension after January 1st so the extension didn't count on the salary cap during that year. Lundqvist got his money and extension and is now locked up to be a Ranger for a long time. Dubinsky should sign his qualifying offer, which is just under $700,000, and play this season to show what he has.
Then again, there is another possibility which is going through the minds of Ranger fans now. Bringing in Prospal means Dubinsky could be on his way out. Trade rumors have been abound this summer that teams are interested in getting Dubinsky for high priced talent including Ottawa Senators' winger Dany Heatley. If I am Glen Sather, however, I am only trading Dubinsky for a top line center. New York got its scoring winger in Marian Gaborik on July 1st and with young players like Ryan Callahan, Enver Lisin, and Christopher Higgins rising through the wing ranks, it seems unnecessary to get someone like Heatley.
On the other hand, a big name like Heatley would mean a big contract would have to go out. If it is for Heatley, the most likely candidate would be Michal Rozsival. I doubt the Senators would like Wade Redden back and Chris Drury will most likely not waive his no movement clause to allow such a trade.
We know Glen Sather to be very in touch with his head coach during the summer and will consult with the coach on what the team needs on the ice to succeed. A former player who may be available, like Brad Richards of the Dallas Stars, could be another target of the Rangers as has been hinted by Larry Brooks and others in the hockey world. Whether it is true or not, another big salary would be going back to Dallas and in this case, it could be Wade Redden. But then the issue of what to do on the blue line is raised.
Dubinsky will be signed and the Rangers then sign a depth defenseman, like Francis Bouillon, and go into training camp with a solid roster. Sather has said he will not give up young talent just to get a star so a trade will really have to wow the Ranger general manager, especially for someone like Brandon Dubinsky.
As for Prospal, this is a good signing at a cheap price. Prospal has been a consistent scorer in his career and will certainly make the Rangers a more dangerous team.