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Brendan smith

Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

One of the under publicized storylines of the offseason is what the Rangers plan on doing with Brendan Smith. Smith, acquired at the trade deadline last season, was a solid if unspectacular player for the Rangers down the stretch. He was certainly one of the top three defensemen on the team, and was a rock in the playoffs.

Smith is an interesting player. As a UFA defenseman capable of playing the right side, he’s in high demand. But without a solid scoring line or a reputation as a “shut down defender,” his contributions are tough to measure using traditional methods. What we do know is that Smith is a solid skater who is good in his own end. He has good positioning and doesn’t leave people open in front to deliver a hit. He also doesn’t snow angel often.

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derek stepan

The news came fast yesterday. First came the front office moves. Then came the Matt Puempel extension. Then the Dan Girardi buyout. Then came the next bombshell, as Bob McKenzie noted that Derek Stepan’s name has been “prominent” in trade talks around the league. Now that doesn’t mean Stepan is going to get traded, but McKenzie is not “Rumor Break” or “Hockey Insiderrrrrrrrr” or “NHL Rumors Daily.” When McKenzie says it, it’s legitimate.

With the Girardi buyout, Kevin Klein’s potential retirement, and now the possibility of a Stepan trade, GM Jeff Gorton is making some serious moves to retool this team for a Cup run in Henrik Lundqvist’s window. The Girardi buyout and the Klein retirement save $5.8 million ($2.9 million each) on the cap. As for the Stepan trade, there are several ways Gorton can go, and each option is intriguing.

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Jun
14

Rangers to buy out Dan Girardi

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dan girardi

Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America

The Rangers have made it official. They will buy out the remaining years of Dan Girardi’s contract. Girardi had three years remaining at a $5.5 million cap hit. The buyout will save the Rangers almost $3 million this year and $2 million the next two years. The Rangers will have a $1.1 million cap hit for the three years following.

Girardi was a career Ranger with a great story, going from undrafted free agent to top pairing defenseman on a Stanley Cup Finalist. However his game deteriorated very quickly under Alain Vigneault, and his lack of foot speed was exploited over the past three seasons.

Girardi finishes his Rangers career with a line of 46-185-230 in 788 games, and 6-27-33 in 122 career playoff games.

Categories : Transactions
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Jun
14

Rangers re-sign Matt Puempel

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matt puempel mats zuccarello

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

The Rangers have re-signed forward Matt Puempel, which now makes them compliant with the expansion draft. The terms of Puempel’s deal were not disclosed. The contract is for one year and $725,000.

Puempel was plucked off waivers from Ottawa last season, and put up 6-3-9 in 27 games while playing primarily on the fourth line. It was necessary to re-sign Puempel (or Fast/Lindberg) before the expansion draft, as the Rangers were not compliant until they had him signed.

It’s unlikely Puempel is selected by Vegas. Expect him back next year, serving as a 13/14F.

Categories : Signings
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jed ortmeyer

The Rangers have announced former players Jed Ortmeyer and Steve Eminger to the front office. They have also added Ben Prentiss as a strength/conditioning coach.

It’s cool to see Ortmeyer back in the fold, he was one of my favorite Rangers post-lockout. Worth noting that Prentiss was the main trainer for most NHLers in the Northeast, including Kevin Shattenkirk.

Categories : Transactions
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kevin klein

Photo: Jim McIsaac (Newsday)

In the Unexpected News Of The Day department, Larry Brooks is reporting that defenseman Kevin Klein may actually be leaning towards retirement. Klein has been somewhat of a marvel in New York since arriving, playing solidly through the beginning of this season, and surpassing career highs in points. He earned a reputation for scoring clutch goals in the two seasons before 2016-2017.

Klein has been dealing with some major back issues though, which caused him to miss a good chunk of this season. He was also a healthy scratch through most of the playoffs. It’s unclear if the back issue severely slowed him down, but it was evident that he could not keep up his play and was a liability on the ice. His decline was sharp in the second half of last season, all the way through this full season.

Brooks noted that Klein may continue his career in Europe if he does retire. It’s worth noting that Klein does have a year and $2.75 million ($2.9 million cap hit) left on his deal. Retiring means forfeiting that money. No decision has been made (again per Brooks), but retiring certainly helps the Rangers out.

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Jun
13

Rangers release preseason schedule

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The Rangers have released their preseason schedule for next season. They will play six games from Septembe 18-26, and again it will be against the same usual teams:

  • 9/18 – vs NYI, 7pm
  • 9/20 – vs NJD, 7pm
  • 9/22 – @ NYI, 7:30pm (played in Bridgeport)
  • 9/23 – @ NJD, 7pm
  • 9/25 – vs PHI, 7pm
  • 9/26 – @ PHI, 7pm

It would be nice to see some different teams in the preseason, but I get that teams want to limit travel.

Categories : Preseason
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Jun
13

Attempting to predict a bribe for Vegas

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jt miller nick holden

AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

The deadline to request players waive their no-move clause for purposes of the expansion draft came and went yesterday. The Rangers did not ask Marc Staal or Dan Girardi to waive their respective clauses, meaning they will be automatically protected in the coming draft. To me, that comes as little surprise. There were no other defensemen to protect, as both Kevin Klein and Nick Holden are certainly not worth protection spots. So why ruin a relationship with a guy that has given his heart and soul to the team?

Don’t get me wrong, I am still of the belief that Girardi will be bought out. But at least that gives him the ability to choose his next destination. As for Staal, he still has some power to choose his, if the Rangers decide to part ways with him as well. But with this move, we know that both Holden and Klein will be exposed. And that gives us a little bit more predictive power on any potential bribe with Vegas.

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marc staal dan girardi

Photo: Andrew Theodorakis/NY Daily News

Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers did not ask defensemen Marc Staal and Dan Girardi to waive their no-move clauses by the 5pm deadline today. That means both will be automatically protected in the coming expansion draft next week. Ryan McDonagh will be the third defenseman protected.

This comes as little surprise to me. There weren’t any other defensemen worth protecting. Kevin Klein isn’t a regular. Nick Holden also isn’t worth a protection spot. Even with his 11 goals and 34 points, dangling him in the draft takes attention away from Jesper Fast, Oscar Lindberg, and Michael Grabner.

No need to panic. The true test will be following expansion, to see what Jeff Gorton has up his sleeve.

Categories : Offseason
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Jun
12

Potential trade partner: Calgary Flames

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jets antti raanta

John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP

As the expansion draft nears, we are going to begin hearing rumors of trades with Vegas to protect players and/or bribe Vegas into taking a contract. We’ve seen one such rumor publicized already, and it’s likely we will see more. But we will also begin seeing trades made by clubs who are in a bad position with protected players. Anaheim is one such team, as is Minnesota.

But not all trades are about protecting players. Enter the Calgary Flames. Both of their goaltenders –Chad Johnson, Brian Elliott– are UFAs, and neither played well last season. Elliott was supposed to stabilize their goaltending situation, but that did not work out as planned. As such, they definitely need a goaltender. Enter Antti Raanta.

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Categories : Offseason
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