The New York Rangers brought back Raphael Diaz to Manhattan on July 1 when they announced the signing of the Swiss blueliner to a one year contract. Diaz was a free agent after playing the past season with the Calgary Flames, where he played in 59 games and scored four points. His new deal is worth $700,000, a solid deal for the Rangers when you consider that Diaz has the experience of over 200 NHL games played. It is already his second stint with the Rangers which acquired the 29-year-old from Vancouver last spring in exchange for a fifth round pick.
Happy to Be a Ranger Again
In a recent interview with a Swiss newspaper Diaz expressed how happy he is to re-join the Rangers organization: “I am very excited to be a Ranger again, it is fantastic to be part of a top team and of course it is nice to join a familiar organization.” Though it surprised him that the Rangers offered him a contract already in the first day of free agency. “That it happened so fast was surprising to me, I was very happy when my agent told me that the Rangers have offered me a contract and it didn’t take me long to accept it”, Diaz said.
— Raphael Diaz (@diaz_raphael_61) July 3, 2015
It is a good deal for Diaz and he is relieved that his career in North America is secured for one more year that early in the summer. It gives him the chance to focus on the preparation of the upcoming season instead of a long free agent summer, waiting for an offer. This happened to Diaz last season when he saw his NHL career in jeopardy as he remained unsigned till the Calgary Flames offered him a contract only in early October after a try-out.
A Good Signing for the Rangers
It is not only a good deal for Diaz but also for the New York Rangers. The undervalued Diaz is a very reliable defender who doesn’t commit a lot of mistakes defensively and has some offensive upside as well. He has a lot of international experience as he participated in two Olympics, several IIHF World Championships, once taking home the silver medal, and WJCs.
Newest #NYR Raphael Diaz now occupies Cam Talbot's number 33
— 🇺🇸 (@BuchnevichHC) July 9, 2015
The value of $700,000 seems to be a very good bargain for the Rangers when you compare it to Diaz’ fellow countryman Yannick Weber who was signed by the Canucks just some days after Diaz, but for a value of $1.5 mio and one year. One reason why the Rangers were able to add Diaz for a low value was probably his overall NHL-situation. He saw his NHL career in jeopardy already several times and hardly found a team last year. Therefore he was happy to sign with any NHL team and he wasn’t in a position to request a higher salary. However, the deal works out well for both parties, Diaz has one more year in the NHL to prove that he belongs into this league and the Rangers signed an experienced and reliable defender without spending a lot of money.
Looking for Consistency in New York
Diaz is a widely travelled hockey player. He played already for four different NHL teams but never really managed to become a fix starter. This won’t become any easier in New York as the team possesses a strong top four defence. Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Keith Yandle are top seeded, which leaves Kevin Klein, Dan Boyle, Diaz and other Rangers prospects fighting for a roster spot. However, Diaz is aware of the tough situation on the Rangers blueline: “There will be a big fight for a roster spot, but this is how things are in the NHL. I need to be ready when the season starts.”
It will be another chance for Diaz to impress, which could secure him the multi-year contract he is looking for. But the Rangers roster will be hard to make and he needs to be ready from the very first day of camp. It might be one of his last chances in North America and if he would fail to get a contract extension or a new offer from another team in the next free agency, this could also mean that his NHL-adventure is over and he would need to think about a return to Switzerland sooner or later.
Independent Scout covering European Hockey and Prospects for TheHockeyWriters. Located in Switzerland and blogging on www.scouting-factory.blogspot.com. Opinions on blog are my own