Even as the Rangers participated in the celebratory aspect of hockey returning to its outdoor roots this week, organizational decision makers have been embroiled in the very serious business of roster construction for the remainder of the 2013-14 season and beyond.
During a between-periods segment during a TSN broadcast Tuesday night, reporters Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie said general manager Glen Sather has “gauged” interest from other general managers on unrestricted free agent right wing Ryan Callahan and unrestricted free agent defenseman Dan Girardi.
McKenzie suggested Girardi is looking for a seven-year deal in the neighborhood of $35 million and Callahan is looking for seven-year contract starting around $42 million.
There are valid reasons to either re-sign or trade Callahan and Girardi. The duo, both homegrown Rangers, have long been contributors and leaders. Callahan is a top-six forward who can kill penalties while Girardi is a top-pair, right-handed defenseman who plays against opponents top lines.
But Callahan will be 29 on March 21 and Girardi will turn 30 on April 29. Additionally, trading one or both will allow the Rangers to free up additional money in free agency. The Rangers have 11 free agents this summer, and, according to industry website capgeek.com $29 million in cap room.
Nabokov healthy, starting
Evgeni Nabokov made the start in goal for the Islanders Wednesday night.
“Just an experienced guy,” head coach Jack Capuano said in his pregame press conference at the Stadium. “He’s practiced hard the last week, he’s 100 percent and that’s the decision we made.”
The start was Nabokov’s first since suffering a groin injury on Jan. 6. He did play the third period of the 6-3 loss to Dallas on Jan. 27.
“We obviously [were concerned] about Nabokov and the fact he hasn’t played much,” Capuano said. “Talking with our doctors and our trainers, and watching Nabby practice over the last week, once we knew he felt comfortable — and I had the conversation with him —that made our decision much easier.”
Nabokov entered the game with a 9-8-5 record in 25 games. He has a 2.85 goals against average and .905 save percentage.
What’s in a name?
The Coyotes announced yesterday they will change their name to the Arizona Coyotes beginning next season.
“Becoming the Arizona Coyotes makes sense for us since we play our games in Glendale, [Ariz.] and the city is such a great partner of ours,” said Coyotes co-owner, president and chief executive officer Anthony LeBlanc in a statement released by the team. “We also want to be recognized as not just the hockey team for Glendale or Phoenix but the team for the entire state of Arizona and the Southwest.”
The name change was not unexpected as Coyotes ownership announced the move during their introductory press conference over the summer.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.