Rangers sign forward Matt Lombardi

It appears that the Rangers have signed forward Matt Lombardi to a two-year contract. Injuries really hurt Lombardi’s NHL career, but he put up 20-30-50 in 46 games in the Swiss league last season. His last “full” NHL season was in 2011-2012, when he put up 8-10-18 with the Toronto Maple Leafs. That was two years after his career high 19-34-53 with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2009-2010. His metrics are pretty terrible though.

We need to note the source on this (I haven’t heard of this source before today). I’d like to assume this is an AHL depth move, but it’s rare that AHL guys get more than one year.

Tom Renney named President of Hockey Canada

Per Darren Dreger, ex-Rangers head coach Tom Renney has been named the President of Hockey Canada. Renney took over head coaching duties for the Rangers at the end of the 2003-2004 season, and coached three full years and parts of two others before being fired in 2009. In 327 games as the head coach, Renney’s Rangers went 164-121-42. Renney’s Rangers also qualified for the playoffs in each of his three full seasons, ending a seven year drought without April hockey in New York.

Priorities for free agency

Not getting poached.

After a week in Aruba (side note: awesome trip), I have noticed that the Rangers have not signed their RFAs yet (three filed for arbitration), and there appears to be a bit of a panic about this. It’s not a huge panic, the way there was over Derek Stepan a few years back, but there is still a sense of unease that the Rangers will have one of their RFAs poached, and that the priorities of management should be to get the kids under contract.

Unless there is a legitimate concern that an offer sheet could come (i.e.: Ryan McDonagh last year), then RFAs are never high on the priority list in the beginning of July (or end of June). The reason here is that offer sheets are incredibly rare (due to multiple reasons), so teams focus on filling the holes they can’t fill internally via the UFA market. Time is of the essence in the UFA market. Time is on their side for RFAs.

So why the wait now, that UFA signings are pretty much over?

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Danny Kristo signs qualifying offer

This news broke over the weekend, but 24-year-old forward Danny Kristo signed his qualifying offer, meaning the Rangers will retain his services for at least one more season. Kristo was acquired last summer in exchange for Christian Thomas, and put up 25-18-43 in 65 games with the Wolf Pack last season. Kristo appears to be an offense-only guy, but his offensive zone skills should translate nicely to the NHL level. The problem is that he is a bit of a disaster without the puck, and the organization will need to see a massive improvement before he is a serious consideration for the NHL club.

Kristo’s NHL salary will be $826,875.

Quick notes: Skjei returning to NCAA; No “real” offer made to Stralman

Some quick notes (before I head off to Aruba…yea, be jealous) about the prospects, free agency, and those who left the Rangers.

Alex Kovalev retires

Ex-Ranger Alex Kovalev has officially retired from hockey after 24 years. Kovy last played for the Panthers in the 2012-2013 season, putting up a line of 2-3-5 in 14 games. Kovalev played four full seasons and parts of two more seasons in New York (303 total games), scoring 86 goals and 208 points. Kovalev was the last active member of the 1994 Stanley Cup team.

Rangers sign forward Nick Tarnasky

The Rangers have signed Nick Tarnasky, a 6’2 225-lb forward. Tarnasky has 245 NHL games under his belt, but hasn’t sniffed The Show since the 2009-2010 season. Since then, Tarnasky has bounced from the AHL to the ECHL to the KHL then back to the AHL. Tarnasky is going to be another depth forward at the AHL level.

Musings: What’s next? What is the ideal situation to trade Marc Staal?

Happy Almost-Three-Day-Weekend folks. A lot has gone on in Rangerland over the past few days, so let’s get to the musings.

Did you know that Staal has brothers? (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Their best and most complicated trade chip. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

  • The Rangers have $14.6 million in cap space to fill six forward spots and one defense spot. If you allocate about $12 million to Derick Brassard ($4 million), Mats Zuccarello ($4.5 million) , Chris Kreider ($2 million), and John Moore ($1.5 million), that leaves $2.6 million for three forward spots. That’s not much room to work with, even if you do use kids to fill the remaining roles.
  • The Rangers said that they want to add one more forward, but don’t know if they will sign someone or trade for someone. If they sign a forward, it’s going to have to be another experimental forward, like Benoit Pouliot last summer.
  • Mike Ribeiro is the name that will probably be thrown around a lot, as he was just bought out by Phoenix and could come cheap. I’d venture a guess that he would settle for a Brad Richards deal (one-year, $2 million). That’s as cheap as they come, but Ribiero hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire lately.
  • Aside from Ribeiro, the other UFAs are either too expensive or not intriguing: David Legwand, Derek Roy, Steve Ott, Saku Koivu, Michal Handzus. None of these guys fit (from a cap perspective or from a talent perspective).

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Rangers re-sign Jason Missiaen

Per Renaud Lavoie, the Rangers have re-signed RFA goaltender Jason Missiaen to a one-year, two-way deal worth $715,000 at the NHL level. Missiaen bounced between the ECHL and AHL last season, putting up a .919 SV% with the Greenville Road Warriors, but a pretty bad .864 SV% with the Hartford Wolf Pack. Missiaen will serve as organizational depth in the minors.

It’s time for the kids to step up

Probably the most ready (Photo: Blueshirts United)

Probably the most ready (Photo: Blueshirts United)

It doesn’t matter if you liked what happened on Tuesday or hated what happened on Tuesday. We are all Ranger fans, and we will all cheer for the team. What we can all agree on, based solely on numbers, is that some of the kids in Hartford are going to need to step up and take a roster spot. When I say numbers, I mean this:

In: Dan Boyle, Tanner Glass, Mike Kostka (AHL: Steve Kampfer, Matt Hunwick, Chris Mueller, Chris Bourque, Cedrick Desjardins)
Out: Anton Stralman, Derek Dorsett, Brad Richards, Brian Boyle, Benoit Pouliot, Raphael Diaz, Justin Falk

Seven NHL players left the Rangers on July 1, and only three came back. The defense was more or less a one-for-one swap, with Boyle replacing Stralman and Kostka replacing Diaz (Falk I consider to be a #8 defenseman at this point). So, barring any trades, the Rangers are pretty much done with the defense. It is also unlikely we see Dylan McIlrath or Conor Allen on Broadway this year. The roster numbers just don’t work.

As for the forwards, one forward came in and four left via free agency. If you assume Glass takes Boyle’s spot on Dominic Moore’s left, that leaves two RW spots open for competition (or a 3LW and 4RW, as Mats Zuccarello can play both sides), and a 2C/3C. There are really only three names that come to mind when it comes to kids on the cusp: J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast, and Oscar Lindberg.

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