Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers are currently not actively shopping Kevin Hayes, a move that will probably disappoint more than a few people. Hayes has seen his name in the same category as Dan Girardi and Marc Staal as players fans want to see traded. There is a narrative among some writers and fans that is being pushed, and it has painted Hayes in a negative light.
Objectively, Hayes did not match his rookie campaign, there’s no denying that. But some reviews that he’s been a downright disappointment are, bluntly put, wrong. It’s sad that the linked article states that the Rangers’ hopes of signing Jimmy Vesey is the primary reason why the Rangers haven’t traded him. There is legitimately zero proof that the Rangers are indeed going in this direction or that they are holding on to Hayes simply as a negotiating ploy.
The first two days of free agency are over, and the Rangers –to everyone’s expectations at this point– stayed relatively quiet. Many, including most of us here at BSB, expected the Rangers to make a big trade at the draft. When that didn’t happen, a quiet July 1 was all but assured. The Rangers did just that, stayed quiet. July 1 is a nice tradition of GMs spending way too much money, so let’s jump into some thoughts following the first two days.
1 – First and foremost, the Rangers did the right thing by staying out of the madness. The dollar amount on most of the contracts wasn’t bad, and it can be argued that a lot of players received fair market value. However term was insane. Seven years for Andrew Ladd? Six for David Backes? The Rangers already have two terrible contracts that are already in “regret” years. Be happy they didn’t add another.
The Rangers have made another depth defense signing, inking Michael Paliotta. The 23-year-old was a third round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2011 draft. He played a full four years at Vermont, really upping his scoring in the final two years.
The 6’#, 205 lb defenseman was shipped to Columbus as a part of the Brandon Saad trade, and was declined a qualifying offer by the Blue Jackets this June. He put up a line of 8-15-23 in 68 games with the Springfield Falcons, his first full pro season. It’s expected he will be in the AHL all year.
Adding on to the Michael Grabner signing, the Rangers have inked Nathan Gerbe to a one year deal at $600,000. The very small (5’5) forward finished his stint in Carolina, where he was primarily a bottom six forward, putting up 3-4-7 in his final year.
Gerbe will likely compete for a fourth line spot, and perhaps fill in while Oscar Lindberg is on the shelf with his hip surgeries. He’s not going to light the lamp, but he’s a decent fourth liner and a decent penalty killer.
With Viktor Stalberg headed to Carolina, the Rangers promptly replaced the Swede with another lightning fast skater in Michael Grabner for two years at a $1.6 million cap hit. Grabner got a huge deal from the Isles in 2011, but was traded as he was a healthy scratch regularly. He regained his footing with the Leafs, posting a solid 9-9-18 in 80 games.
Grabner and Stalberg have similar skill sets. They are both fast skaters, good on the penalty kill, and good on the forcheck. He’s not the 20-goal –or even 30-goal– guy he once was, but he’s still a solid depth forward for a team that needs speed. The fact that he’s on a decent contract helps too. The second year means he can be exposed in the expansion draft. That fact shouldn’t be overlooked.
The Rangers have signed defenseman Adam Clendening to a one year, two way deal, per Darren Dreger. Clendening is a right-handed defenseman that is more of a 7th or 8th defenseman. He spent most of last year with the Oilers (20 games), but also was with the Penguins organization for a few months.
The former second round pick has 50 NHL games, with a line of 2-9-11. This is a depth signing, replacing one of the many departed players in Hartford.
NHL free agency is upon us. Players are free to sign wherever they want as of noon today. The trade madness went down on Wednesday, with a few moves affecting the Rangers. Bob McKenzie is predicting that Milan Lucic goes to Edmonton, Andrew Ladd to the Islanders, Frans Nielsen to Detroit, Loui Eriksson to Vancouver, and Troy Brouwer to Calgary. Let’s see how much of that he gets right. Personally, I think all that sounds right, plus I think Eric Staal goes to the Isles. They are getting gutted right now and need to replace them.
I’d like to see the Rangers target Brandon Pirri and Michael Latta. Both are going to come cheap as unqualified RFAs. Latta would be a great fit for the fourth line, and is tremendous in his own zone. Pirri can be a low budget 20-30 point guy in the right situation/deployment. I’d also like to see Viktor Stalberg back. Of course, this is on the right deal.
I will be live blogging the frenzy. So check back early and often. Expect GMs to lose their minds, and all of us to laugh at a few deals. It’s inevitable, as Justin said this morning.
Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers are set to announce Jeff Beukeboom as assistant coach, replacing the recently departed Ulf Samuelsson. Samuelsson was in charge of the defense and penalty kill before departing for Carolina’s AHL team to be their head coach.
Beuk is beloved by many fans for his play in the 90s with the Rangers. He was one of the few big, tough, stay at home guys that could actually do more than drop the gloves. His style of play has been extinct in the NHL for years, though.
Beuk has been instrumental in the development of a lot of Rangers defense prospects, specifically Dylan McIlrath. It is assumed Beuk will take over the same that Samuelsson had before his departure.
Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers are trying to keep winger Viktor Stalberg, although the current asking price is too high for the cap strapped club. They are trying to get the price down, but it remains to be seen if they can actually retain one of their better free agent signings.
The Rangers signed Stalberg to a one-year, $1.1 million contract last summer as a “show me” deal, and Stalberg delivered. As one of the fastest and most consistent Rangers, Stalberg put up 9-11-20 in 75 games while playing predominately on the bottom-six.
Stalberg was one of the better possession forwards for the club as well, doing a solid job of both helping to generate shots and suppress shots against. He’s a typical Swede: A solid hockey player in subtle ways that helps his team win. At the right price, he’s a major asset to the Rangers depth at forward.
The 4pm hour was one of the most active hours in the NHL I’ve ever seen on a non-major day (draft, free agency, trade deadline). The first hammer fell when Taylor Hall was shipped to New Jersey for Adam Larsson. Larsson is a solid defenseman, but worth Taylor Hall, straight up? Not a chance. Edmonton got fleeced in this deal, and now the Rangers get to see him in the division. Lovely.
Then P.K. Subban went to Nashville for Shea Weber. Weber carries the big shot and goal totals, but Subban is easily the better defenseman. Subban drive possession and suppresses shots infinitely better than Weber. If you’re looking for your purely offensive defensemen, then Weber is your man. Subban plays a more complete game and still puts up the same point (not goal) totals as Weber. Also, David Poile turned Seth Jones and Shea Weber into Ryan Johansen and P.K. Subban. Wow.
Then Steven Stamkos re-upped in Tampa Bay for eight years at an $8.5 million cap hit. That is a big time home town discount for Stamkos. And luckily for the Rangers, it takes him off the market, meaning they won’t make bad trades to fit him in. Phew.