Paul Ranger

Paul Ranger will look to make his NHL return this fall with the Toronto Maple Leafs after signing a one-year, $1 million contract with the team, after playing with their AHL affiliates this past season.

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ cap situation just got a lot tougher as the team has signed defenseman Paul Ranger to a one-year deal worth around $1 million, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

Ranger, 28 (29 in October), was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 6th round (183rd overall) back in 2002. After spending two more years with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals, Ranger played in 69 games for the Lightning’s then-AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons, where he had 11 points (3-8). Ranger then spent his next five years with the Tampa Bay Lighning, accumulating a total of 92 points (18-74) in 270 games, which included a 10 goal, 31 point season in 2007-2008. However, in his final season with Tampa Bay in 2009-2010, Ranger played in just 8 games as he was granted “personal leave” from the team and told general manager Steve Yzerman at the end of the season that he was not prepared to make a decision on his future with the team, thus leading many to believe that, at the age of 25, Ranger had retired from hockey. However, two years later, Ranger reappeared as he signed a one-year, AHL contract with the Toronto Marlies. Ranger looked like he didn’t miss a beat. He was much better than his competition but when asked if he would like to play in the NHL if the opportunity arose when the lockout was over, Ranger said he didn’t want to. Sure enough, when the lockout ended, Ranger remained with the Marlies. He played in 51 games for the club and had 25 points (8-17). Ranger had a lengthy absence due to a concussion he suffered midway through the season.

The Maple Leafs are obviously willing to give Ranger an NHL shot as they gave him an NHL contract, but it will be interesting to see how he performs. This is obviously a low-risk, decent-reward signing since they can send him to the AHL and suffer a $100,000 cap hit if he doesn’t find his form. If that’s the worst case scenario, I’m perfectly OK with that. It’s just because they still have Cody Franson and Nazem Kadri as unsigned RFA’s and Mark Fraser is going to arbitration. So, unless the arbitrator sides with Fraser and the Leafs walk away, they’re going to have to trade a body on defense. Hopefully, Dave Nonis doesn’t think it has to be Franson or, God forbid, Jake Gardiner but instead somehow finds a trading partner and drops John-Michael Liles on someone in a salary dump. If they have to sweeten the deal by adding a draft pick, that’s fine by me so long as they can get Franson and Kadri signed to reasonable contracts and fit under the cap.

As for where Ranger will fit on the defense, he played on the right side with the Marlies but is also comfortable playing on the left. So, with guys like Liles, Fraser, Gardiner, Carl Gunnarsson, and even Morgan Rielly being left defensemen, it  seems likely that Ranger will be on the right side again. A third pairing of him and Mark Fraser would be solid with the other two consisting of Dion Phaneuf with Gunnarsson, and Gardiner with Franson. The Maple Leafs have roughly $5.5 million in cap space after this signing so a move should be coming to clear out cap room. Just hope that it’s Liles moving and not Franson.

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12 Responses

  1. OBWLeafer

    If Nonis loses either or both Franson / Fraser he would be making a huge mistake in my opinion. They were our best tandem on D last year by a landslide. I have no problem giving Ranger a shot as well, but Nonis will have to shuffle & deal someone someplace. In my perfect world it would be Captain Giveaway. He’s slow, lazy at times and makes far too many bad decisions for an experienced defender. Trading off his points for his giveaways is a no brainer. If you go back to the infamous third period meltdown, you’ll see on 2 occasions Dion had the puck within 10 feet of the blueline & couldn’t get it out. Goal scored both times. Phnuff said!

    Reply
    • Bradshaw Furlong

      Problem with trading Phaneuf is you have to guarantee you’re getting back a defenseman who can play the same minutes Phaneuf does. Players like that don’t come with a cheap salary, either. So you’re back to square one. I don’t think he should be playing those kind of minutes, but he has to out of necessity. No one else in the Leafs defensive group can play the minutes Phaneuf can.

      To me, I would first try trading Liles because unlike Phaneuf, the Leafs have other guys that can do what Liles does for less. If a trade of Liles is not feasible, they’ll have to try and find a way to walk away from the arbitration ruling Fraser receives.

      Reply
      • OBWLeafer

        I don’t understand why so many people stick up for Captain Giveaway with the excuse of where will you find a d-man to play those minutes. The only reason Phnuffy plays so many minutes is because the coach gives them to him. If he’s not there, you give more minutes to the rest of the crew collectively. No one HAS to put in that many minutes. As far as trading Liles is concerned, Nonis shopped him prior to and during the draft and there were no takers not even for a draft pick. Dion’s contract will be hard to move as well unless it were to happen at the trade deadline where a team was looking for a rental and only having to pay a portion of the remaining $$ on the contract. I don’t expect a big return, I just think it would be a plus to have him gone. We have guys who are or will be ready to make the jump. I’d rather have some guys who can stop other teams from scoring goals than a guy who scores some points but leads the league in giveaways. I honestly lost all respect for him in the payoffs when he backed down from Lucic in game 7. Please don’t tell me Phnuffy knew he was too important on the ice instead of being in the box for 5 minutes with Lucic. It would have been the perfect trade off in my opinion. Twice Phnuffy had the puck within 10 feet of the blueline and he could’t get the puck out. Goals were scored shortly after both of those failed clearings. He’s slow, sometimes looks lazy, (Just reaching for a player with his stick) he isn’t very intelligent and he definitely is not a very good leader. Phnuff said….lol

      • Bradshaw Furlong

        Okay, give the group collectively the minutes. Who plays against the other teams top players? Are you okay sending out Gunnarsson with Gardiner or Franson with Fraser against Sidney Crosby? Because I would much rather have Phaneuf do that. He’s the best defenseman on the team.

        Who can you say it’s a plus to not have Phaneuf? If you take a look at his Corsi numbers, they weren’t fantastic. However, that was because at the beginning of the season he was paired with Kostka and Holzer. Once he got paired with someone who wasn’t an AHLer, his Corsi improved. This while still playing, by far, the toughest minutes on the team. If you take Phaneuf off the team, I’m quite confident in saying that the Leafs don’t make the playoffs.

        Again, no defenseman on the Leafs is capable of playing against other teams top players. Name anyone on defense and tell me you’d honestly want them playing against top line forwards consistently.

        About “backing down” from Lucic. C’mon. If fighting is all about momentum, why give the Bruins more momentum by having Lucic pound the hell out of our captain?

        Furthermore, you don’t have to be physical to be good defensively. Luke Schenn is a great example.

      • OBWLeafer

        Well, we can both agree to disagree. You like him, I think he’s a pylon. Neither of us make the decisions on the ice so it’s all moot other than debating. All I can add is great players make the players around them better. It would appear to me, and as your point of the corsi shows, Phnuffy seems to need better players to play with to make him better.

  2. Bradshaw Furlong

    But bad players can also hold back good players. Ala how Tyler Bozak holds back Phil Kessel.

    Reply
    • OBWLeafer

      That’s true and unfortunately Nonis overpaid so as not to disrupt the ‘Bromance’. A 3rd line center on most any other team. It will be up to Kadri or whomever to take over and cause a break-up….lol.

      Reply
      • Bradshaw Furlong

        I said it on my post about Bozak re-signing, they’re essentially paying him to win face-offs and be Phil Kessel’s friend. Apparently that’s worth $4.2 million haha

  3. leafster27

    Ranger still has it and will be a force for the Leafs on D. I saw him play a few times (last Marlies season) and the guy was incredible.

    I have no problem having Dion around but Carlyle must limit his minutes as he does become lethargic when he’s out there too long. As for trading Liles, it won’t be easy. Burkie screwed our Leafs on that contract. BTW, does Liles have a one-way contract? If not, can they not send him down to the Marlies to hide his cap-hit?

    Reply
    • OBWLeafer

      Don’t quote me on this but I’m pretty sure they can send Liles down, but because of the new rules would only be able to clear about $900k of his salary off the cap. I read this somewhere but can’t remember where…lol Old age!

      Reply
    • Bradshaw Furlong

      He has a one-way contract but with the rules in the CBA, they can no longer hide his cap hit by sending him down.

      I like Liles and I don’t think he ever fully recovered from his concussion and started to look better in the playoffs when he got the chance, but I still think the best move would be letting him go. Though, it will be hard.

      Reply
      • OBWLeafer

        [Wade Redden Rule] League Minimum Salary ($525,000) + $375,000 So as I said Leafs would only clear $900k in cap space by sending Liles to AHL. Ala Cap Geek.

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