Sunday, July 15, 2007

Cullen Is Safe For Now

One week ago it looked like the Rangers were on the verge of trading center Matt Cullen in order to free up cap-space.

Last week it was reported that the New York Rangers and the Carolina Hurricanes were close to a deal which would send the third line center back to Carolina. A move which would have benefited both teams as the Rangers needed more salary cap flexibility and the Canes needed more depth up the middle.

Now a week later it looks like the Rangers have cooled their quest at cap-room. The difference is all-star defenseman Sheldon Souray has signed on with the Edmonton Oilers leaving no first-pair defensemen left on the free-agent market.

Since Souray has been taken off the market trade talks for Cullen between the Rangers and Hurricanes have broken down. "I would have thought that this would have been brought to a head this week, but it's a tricky process and it hasn't," Hurricane’s GM Jim Rutherford told the Raleigh News & Observer.

The Rangers may still attempt at adding a top-of-the-line defenseman in order to fill what they view as their last hole, but with the free-agent market now picked clean there is less of a rush.

Another option which may come up in the next couple of weeks is a possible deal with the Phoenix Coyotes for defenseman Ed Jovanovski. The Coyotes feel like they are in a position to deal with a lot of depth at the defense position. However Jovanovski does have a no-trade clause in his contract and would have to approve a deal to whichever team gets him.

Jovanovski will earn $7 million next year and $6 million over the next three seasons he is under contract so the Rangers will still have to unload salary to make a move. Besides Cullen two major contracts the Rangers have which are likely to be dealt are Paul Mara and Marek Malik, but if Phoenix is looking to unload a defenseman they will probably not be too interested in either.

The Rangers have about $3 million left under the cap of $50.3 million set by the NHL. That amount is expected to be filled by yet unsigned restricted free-agents Sean Avery and Marcel Hossa.

As always you can read my work at the Hot Stove New York

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