March 23, 2007 -- Even as the Rangers posed for their 2006-07 team picture yesterday on their practice rink, Glen Sather was working on keeping Michael Nylander in the picture for at least the next couple of seasons. The Post has learned the GM is in the midst of serious negotiations with agent Paul Theofanous regarding a contract extension for Nylander, who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. It is believed the two sides are talking about a two-year agreement that would carry Nylander through the final season of Jaromir Jagr's contract, presuming the Rangers exercise their team option on Jagr for 2008-09. Nylander, who will turn 35 the first week of next season, has been one of the Rangers' most astute free-agent signings since the market opened in 1995. The team's first-line center has out-produced his contract by a mile; the anti-Scott Fraser, if you will. Playing a second season for just over $2.026 million, Nylander has recorded a point a game for the Blueshirts (45-107-152 in 152 games) and is primed to establish personal bests in assists (51 after 56 last year) and points (73 after 79 last year) with seven games remaining in his 13th NHL season. He's also the center with whom Jagr feels most comfortable, no small endorsement. The value of the deal being discussed is not known, though 34-year-old left winger Martin Straka, whose production as a Ranger (49-92-141 in 152 games) all but equals Nylander's, recently signed a one-year extension through next season for $3.5 million. * Straka, who missed the past two games with a knee injury, is expected to rejoin the club for tomorrow afternoon's match in Boston. In a classy move, the Rangers included goaltender Stephen Valiquette in the team picture though the decision already had been made to assign him to Hartford immediately after practice to accommodate Kevin Weekes' return to health. Valiquette, recalled from the Wolf Pack when Weekes sustained a sprained quad Feb. 13, started one game for the Rangers, the critical March 3, 3-2 shootout victory over the Blues.
In the aftermath of Colton Orr's knockout of Todd Fedoruk 21 seconds into Wednesday's 5-0 victory over the Flyers, Tom Renney said Orr's presence "allows teammates to play fearlessly to their ability without being compromised." Fedoruk was released from St. Vincent's Hospital at noon yesterday after spending a night under observation.
I know people get frustrated with Nylander sometimes cause he doesn't shoot enough but he has been a steal for what we have paid for him and his production. That first line hasn't looked as solid as it did at the start of the year especially with Straka being hurt lately. I don't know if Dubinsky would play on that first line anyway. It is a difficult choice when you think about whether to keep Shanny either, do we lock him up for another year or is he blocking a kid from coming up. Tough to balance.