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12 July 2007

Report: Cullen Could be Headed Back to Carolina

According to a report by John Dellapina in the New York Daily News, Rangers' Center Matt Cullen could be heading back to the city to which he helped bring Lord Stanley's Cup in 2006. Dellapina writes:

Sather is shopping center Matt Cullen, with a trade back to the Carolina Hurricanes very much on the front burner. Should the Rangers shed Cullen's contract (three years left at $2.8million per), they'd trim nearly $3million from this season's cap hit.

That could simply provide flexibility for potential in-season moves. But it just as easily could be the first step in a plan to clear enough cap space to sign free-agent defenseman Sheldon Souray, whom the Devils and Islanders have pursued. Unloading defenseman Paul Mara's $3million salary undoubtedly would be another requirement.

As we have discussed here all week, the Rangers moving Cullen is not a surprise. Cullen is a terrific third-line center, with great speed. He does all the little things well, and he is certainly the kind of guy you often find on successful teams. However, he is the most logical forward on the roster to be moved to clear cap room. The Rangers really created this problem when they signed Cullen last summer. As I wrote above, he is a good third-line center, but the Rangers signed him to center the 2nd line and set up Brendan Shanahan, hence his $2.85 million cap number. After watching Cullen struggle on the second line on Broadway, the Rangers felt so strongly that Cullen was not the answer at that spot, that they broke up their top line late in the season and moved Martin Straka to center the second line. They then proceded to tie up $14 million in cap space on Scott Gomez and Chris Drury to center their top two lines. When you have that much invested in your top two centers, you simply can't also pay $3 million to your third center. Well, at least not in the salary cap era (we all remember the Rangers paying Bobby Holik $9 million a year to be their third center). So, while I like Cullen, and I wish the Rangers didn't have to move him, the reality is that when you add as much salary as the Rangers have this summer, sacrifices must be made elsewhere on the roster. And, this is a necessary sacrifice.

As for Souray, I continue to believe that, even if the Rangers deal Cullen and move Mara and his $3 million salary, it still won't be enough to get a Souray deal done, unless you can get him to take a one year deal for $4 million. If Souray was willing to take that kind of deal, he would have already been signed. I know his agent is very close to Glen Sather, but Souray is also close to Martin Brodeur, so if he wouldn't take that kind of deal from the Devils to play with Marty, why would he take it from the Rangers?

3 fanatics have replied:

Katy said...

I was gonna post about this later after I tried to get more on it, but it seems the news is at a standstill and we will just have to wait now.

I know many Caniacs would love to see Cullen back after realizing how big the gap was that he left when he went to NY. Yes, he's a bit more expensive than what we would like to spend on a 3rd line center but we know he works here in Lavi's system.
I will be estatic if he comes back here!

Anonymous said...

Biased Devils Fan:

I fear for the worst if the Rangers start auctioning off role-players in order to wrap exorbitant amounts of cash in stars.

Over the last 2 seasons there has been every indication that the Rangers have learned that simply buying good players does not make you a good team and premium parts shottily cobbled together do not make a winning product.

I do not expect the Rangers to pursue Souray, they'd be crazy to, it'd be laughable.

That having been said, being crazy, laughable and ill-spending are hardly unknown traits at Madison Square Garden. Still, I'll be shocked if they take this revenue from Cullen and don't simply utilize it in signing their necessary RFAs.

Mike Thompson said...

I agree that Cullen may be the odd man out in NY. I for one would be happy to see him return to the Canes, where I believe he fit in perfectly. I don't see Sourey in NY next year either. I still think he has a better shot of being a Devil than anywhere else.

Before everybody jumps all over the Rangers for spending $$ on Drury and Gomez, take a look at the roster before the signings. As stated here and elsewhere, depth at center was a real issues for the Rangers. Picking up the two players they did went to filling a need, albeit with a high price tag. Let's not all jump on the bandwagon of "Rangers overspending for superstars like they did in the past."

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