15 Points to Consider – July

Jeff Angus



Shea Weber’s future in Nashville, Erik Cole’s fantasy impact in Montreal, a sleeper defenseman for 2011-12, and more.

1. Glen Sather has never been one to draw a hard line in the sand with unrestricted free agents (ever since coming to New York, at least). However, he seems to be more than willing to fight tooth and nail each and every summer with his restricted free agents. The Rangers have three players who filed for arbitration – Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, and  Michael Sauer. Sure, restricted free agents have fewer rights than unrestricted free agents, but since the death of the "second contract" (thanks to Kevin Lowe's offer sheet to Thomas Vanek), these young players seem to be hitting pay dirt, much, much earlier.


Dubinsky and Callahan are the heart and soul of the Rangers team (especially Callahan, who epitomizes everything I value in a hockey player). I doubt either player leaves Broadway this summer or any time soon, but I don't see how potentially straining a team-player relationship over a few bucks is the best way to go about negotiations?


2. The Leafs made a great move in acquiring Cody Franson from Nashville for next-to-nothing, but I don't get all of the "top four defenseman" talk. Darren Dreger and other media members mentioned how the Leafs had acquired a legitimate top four defenseman. Some basic stat checking paints a different picture. Franson played just over 15 minutes per game in the postseason for Nashville, good for sixth among the six defensemen. During the regular season, his 15:10 per game ranked him eighth among all defensemen who suited up for at least 30 games. He's big and has a phenomenal breakout pass, but his mobility and defensive positioning is severely lacking.


The real winner in this trade will probably end up being one of Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, or Roman Josi (my personal favorite). Nashville's three best defensive prospects now have an open roster spot to compete for.


3. There is perhaps no bigger opportunity for a player to increase production than the winner of the top line LW battle in New York. Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik are firmly entrenched at center and on the right wing, but the left wing is wide open. The contenders: the inconsistent but talented Wojtek Wolski, the agitating but talented Sean Avery, the young and savvy Derek Stepan (who is better at center), the scrappy Brandon Dubinsky, or do the Rangers bring back Vinny Prospal for one more kick at the can?


Callahan would be a great fit if he could move over to the left wing – I know Gaborik likes to play exclusively on the right side.


4. Rumor out of Nashville is that Shea Weber wants a