With Tuesday's deadline to submit qualifying offers, the Rangers extended qualifying offers to five of their restricted free agents: Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, Mats Zuccarello and newly-acquired depth defenseman Justin Falk.
Conspicuously absent from that list?
Former top-four defenseman Michael Sauer.
The 25-year-old Sauer, who was shaping up to be a promising young player for the team's blue line, has not played since sustaining a concussion Dec. 5, 2011, after being rocked with a hard, clean hit from Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf.
Multiple sources told ESPNNewYork.com that Sauer is still experiencing lingering effects from the concussion and is not ready to return. Though the hope is still that he can eventually make a comeback, the Rangers' decision not to qualify him is a good indication that his playing career is in jeopardy.
The Rangers also did not qualify defenseman Jyri Niemi and forward Nick Palmieri. The team was not planning to qualify fellow restricted free agent Benn Ferriero, either. Ferriero was traded Sunday to acquire Falk from the Minnesota Wild.