While I was sitting down this morning to figure out what to write about on my day off, I remembered that today is Thursday. Which means it’s musings day. This actually worked out perfectly, because I’ve honestly been having some writer’s block lately. Everything I could think about was no more than a paragraph or two long. How wonderfully this worked out that today is Thursday….one or two paragraphs per thought is exactly what musings day is!
First things first, it’s great to see that the Minnesota Wild landed the two biggest fish on the free agency market. In the span of five minutes they went from being a perennial cap floor team to the second highest spending team in the league. The fans there are incredibly loyal and they love their team, so it’s good to finally see them rewarded. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter make them legitimate contenders. There aren’t many teams in the Northwest that can contend with them (Vancouver).
Speaking of the Northwest Division, the it seems that every team is leaving the Calgary Flames in the dust. Each team, save for the Canucks, made significant upgrades to address gaping holes, and the Flames added…Jiri Hudler. That division is no longer a pushover division. It’s going to be a dogfight in the West next year.
Now on to the Rangers, boy did they (and the rest of the conference) dodge a bullet when Parise not only shunned the Penguins, but took Suter with him out West. The Atlantic Division is now a weaker division, as both Parise and Jordan Staal are gone. The Penguins likely have the most skill in the division, but the Rangers aren’t as far behind them now as they were.
Aside from Rick Nash, there is one other option for the Rangers that has remained very quiet over the past few days: Shane Doan. We know he won’t sign before July 9 because of ownership issues in Phoenix, but if that comes and goes with no resolution, the Rangers are going to pursue Doan hard. Can you imagine a top-nine consisting of (in no particular order): Doan, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Ryan Callahan, Artem Anisimov, Derek Stepan, and Brandon Dubinsky? Not many teams can match that depth.
Another hole the Rangers need to fill? A right handed defenseman. With the Rangers looking to re-sign Anton Stralman, he becomes a big priority for them. Dan Girardi is the only right-handed shot on the blue line right now, assuming Michael Sauer won’t be back soon and Stu Bickel is the seventh defenseman. Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, and Tim Erixon are all left-handed shots. Dylan McIlrath is a right handed shot, but he’s likely another year away from turning pro.
While on the topic of defenseman, here are a few interesting points that came on on Twitter, thanks to Matt Calamia:
- Del Zotto finished last season with just five less points than Suter.
- Del Zotto finished last season with three MORE goals than Suter.
- Girardi finished ahead of Suter in Norris voting.
As Matt points out, this doesn’t mean that the Girardi and Del Zotto are better than Suter, but it is some interesting food for thought. Suter costs $7.5 million a year, Girardi costs $3.975 million, and Del Zotto will likely cost $2 million. But yet the Rangers are the team that overpays?
One last bit: I get asked a lot which prospect I think can make the roster. The easy answer here is Tim Erixon. But my dark horse is J.T. Miller, the kid is progressing faster than anyone thought possible. This is barring a trade of course.
Some questions before we wrap up:
- What do you prefer: A trade for Rick Nash involving a top-nine forward and a prospect, or signing Shane Doan?
- What are your offensive output predictions for Tim Erixon?
- Which right handed defenseman do you want the Rangers to target?