When the Rangers re-signed Oscar Lindberg to his two-year deal (one-way deal, guaranteeing his salary), they did so with the assumption that Lindberg will make the club. His spot on the roster is still up in the air, as he could be as high as 3C and as low as 13F, but he will be with the Rangers when the regular season starts. Where Lindberg slots in will have a major effect on his production for the upcoming season.
Lindberg has been one of Hartford’s best forwards for two seasons now. Last season he put up 28-28-56 in 75 games, an improvement on his 18-26-44 from the season prior. While with the Wolf Pack, Lindberg played on the top line, getting significant powerplay and penalty kill time as well.
Last week, I went through the bottom half of the third annual Top 25 Under 25 for the New York Rangers. The bottom half of the list is fairly interesting, because it had some players fall off the list completely, and players like Ryan Bourque, Cristival “Boo” Nieves, and Steven Fogarty fall significantly. This has a lot to do with the recent influx of talented prospects from the 2015 draft.
Remember though, there are a good number of players under 25 years of age that are on the NHL roster, and naturally that puts them ahead of a lot of players that still qualify as prospects. So let’s round out the top-12 players in the Top 25 Under 25 for the Rangers.
12. Adam Tambellini – Forward, 2013 3rd round (LY: 16)
Over the past two seasons, I’ve gone through the Rangers organization and ranked the top 25 players under the age of 25 years old (2013, 2014). The ground rules for this list are simple: To qualify for this list, a player must be under 25 years old. It doesn’t matter if this player is in the NHL, AHL, or in any of the leagues around the world. If they are Ranger property and under 25, they were considered.
First, let’s go through the players from last year’s list that no longer qualify and honorable mentions who missed the cut:
Aged out: Derek Stepan, Mat Bodie
No longer with the oranization: Anthony Duclair, John Moore, Conor Allen, Ryan Haggerty
Honorable mentions: Adam Huska, Sergey Zborovskiy, Tyler Nanne, Ryan Mantha, Keegan Iverson, Marek Hrivik
Now let’s go through the top-25 players under the age of 25, starting with #25. I will group some of these players together, as some are so close in skill set that it was tough to rank one higher than the other.
Per Corey Pronman (please note that while he writes for ESPN, Pronman is one of the best in the business at ranking prospects, and ESPN’s Insider hockey writers are top notch), Pavel Buchnevich is the #14 ranked skater prospect heading into this season. Buchnevich is clearly the Rangers’ top prospect, and he should come to North America next season, after he finishes this season up with the KHL. Here’s what Pronman had to say about Buchnevich:
Buchnevich’s 18- and 19-year-old seasons have been some of the very best in the history of the KHL, showing he can play versus men at a high level in the world’s second-best league. He’s a winger with great puck skills, impressive hockey sense and above-average speed. He has size to couple with that and while he’s bulked up a fair amount, some more could help before he hits the NHL. Buchy is not a complete prospect, but he’s consistently dangerous offensively. He should be in the NHL in 2016-17, or as a potential late season add after his KHL season ends.
It’s worth noting that Buchnevich is ranked two spots ahead of Anthony Duclair.
The New York Rangers have named Steve Greeley as Assistant Director of Player Personnel and Nickolai Bobrov as Director of European Scouting. Greeley was an Associate Head Coach at Boston University for the last two seasons. Per Sean Hartnett, Bobrov was the North American representative for the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg for the last three seasons.
Bobrov replaces Anders Hedberg, who had disappeared from the Rangers front office page this month. This is a clear indication that new GM Jeff Gorton is replacing Glen Sather’s staff with his guys. Standard practice.
The New York Rangers have signed center Jarret Stoll to a one-year, $800,000 deal. Stoll has been a bottom-line center for the LA Kings the past four seasons, with production dropping each year. Last year he put up 6-11-17 with a 51.1% CF in roughly 54% OZ starts. Stoll will likely compete with Tanner Glass, Oscar Lindberg, and Viktor Stalberg for a bottom-six spot on the roster.
I’m all for giving people a second chance, and he’s certainly an upgrade on Glass. He’s also very good in the faceoff circle. I haven’t watched much of Stoll, so I unfortunately have to go primarily based on numbers. This is a low-risk signing. At $800,000, he can be buried in the AHL at no cap cost, he’s an upgrade on Glass, and insurance if Lindberg isn’t ready.
Over the past two weeks, the Rangers have “been linked” –in quotes for a reason– to a pair of rumors. The first is that they are keen on landing UFA forward Curtis Glencross. Glencross, coming off a four-year deal that paid him $2.55 million per season, is seen as someone who can add forward depth to the Rangers at a discount price. The thing is, the Rangers added their cheap depth forward in Viktor Stalberg, and are content letting Oscar Lindberg take the final spot on the roster. Since Tanner Glass is the 13F, there’s enough depth for 14F and beyond in Hartford that signing Glencross isn’t necessary. He is an upgrade on Glass though.
The other is that the Rangers are inexplicably trying to move Keith Yandle. This made little sense when the Rangers were in cap trouble, and makes even less sense now that the entire team is signed and they still have a shade more than $850,000 cap space. The Rangers didn’t deal a first round pick and their best prospect to keep Yandle for half a season. This one is just silly.
As Josh pointed out, the most likely move for the Rangers is to bring in a guy or two on a PTO. Perhaps Glencross is one of them. Beyond that, the Rangers will go to camp with what they have. The rest of the roster decisions will play out depending on camp performance.
Two former Rangers will be members of the US Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2015: center Chris Drury and defenseman Mathieu Schneider. Drury spent four seasons in New York before retiring, putting up a pair of 20-goal, 50-point seasons before injuries and age slowed him down. In his four years, Drury put up a line of 62-89-151 in 264 games while serving as captain of the team for three of those seasons.
Drury’s signing during the 2007 offseason, along with Scott Gomez, was thought to solidify the center position, but never seemed to fit that billing. His signing was deemed a failure, which I think is a bit harsh. Age caught up to him, but he had a pair of productive seasons in New York.
Schneider played two seasons with the Rangers, putting up a pair of 10-goal, 30-point years. In his 155 games, Schneider finished with a line of 20-44-64.
With Derek Stepan signed, the Rangers don’t have much left to do this offseason. All their key bodies are signed, the roster is filled out, and the only thing remaining is proper training camp evaluation. In the one month since he has taken over, Gorton has made one trade and 15 signings. Let’s break them down in chronological order.
Conor Allen (was not offered QO) – This is a move that seemed to surprise a lot of people, but when you take a step back and look at the full picture, it made sense. The Rangers needed to make room for younger prospects like Calle Andersson, and the 25-year-old Allen just wasn’t doing enough to show he belonged. He may be a tweener, but he’s good enough that he should be given a look by a team that is short on defense.
Trade for Magnus Hellberg – Gorton sent a 2016 6th round pick to Nashville for the goaltender, who will likely serve as the starter in Hartford when the season starts. Mackenzie Skapski (hip) and Cedrick Desjardins (knee) will both miss the start of the year. Hellberg is young, and will be working with Benoit Allaire. It’s never a bad thing to have options.
Two questions this week. As always, submit your questions using the form on the right, and we will answer them in our weekly mailbag.
asfjr asks: With the possibility of expansion coming in the next 2 or 3 years, what rules are there for protecting players with NMC/NTC? Say expansion happens after the 15/16 season, would the Rangers be required to protect Marc Staal since he will still have an NMC, but still be able to expose Dan Girardi since he will only have an NTC?
Now this is an interesting question that I simply can’t answer right now. There are no provisions in the current CBA that account for an expansion draft, so this is something that would need to be negotiated by the league and the union. When expansion is approved by the Board of Governors (and yes, it’s a when, not an if), then this will be a hot topic.
No-move clauses are designed to protect against any involuntary movement, meaning trades or demotions. However, there are varying degrees. Take Derek Stepan: He has a full no trade for part of his deal, and a limited no-trade for part of his deal, but he has full no-move throughout. What I am interpreting this to mean is when his NTC goes from full to limited, his NMC will protect him from a demotion. A full NTC and NMC covers everything. A limited NTC and a full NMC covers demotions and limited trades. That’s just my guess though.