Sean Avery’s weird deal in New York is one of the stranger things going on in the league right now. Avery is an unrestricted free agent after this season and he and the Rangers are far apart on a deal, although not insanely far apart. Still, the Rangers seem reluctant to close the deal. Avery has responded by becoming sullen and refusing to speak to the press. All of this is happening as Avery is playing the best hockey of his career on the Rangers’ top line.
My theory was the Rangers weren’t budging on the money because they knew Avery loves New York, and his playing value seems entirely New York-based. Avery just wouldn’t be the same player on another team; we know this based on Avery’s history.
So we have the Rangers with a player who really does improve their team. Noticeably improves their team, for whatever reasons. But they know he won’t have the same impact anywhere else, for whatever reason. So the Rangers feel they can play hardball with Avery, since who else would want him?
Apparently other NHL teams. San Jose was interested in Avery right before the trade deadline, offering up Steve Bernier for him. So we know there’s now some interest in Avery around the league. And The Hockey News says there’s actually a lot of interest in Avery, the unrestricted free agent.
Obviously, Avery is a risk. And a bonehead. But the rest of the league is starting to realize just how much better Avery makes the Rangers. And they’re wondering if he can do the same thing for them. And now the Rangers can’t assume Avery won’t get a better offer.
Maybe it’s time to reopen the contract talks, right?