Slowly but surely the oh-so-long hockey-less summer is coming to an end. Traverse City is around the corner, prospects are back in action and news is starting to filter through. Without further delay, let’s hit up Around the League one more time.
It’s the time of the year when we start to hear about try-out offers for veterans ahead of training camps. One that could offer some intrigue is the Blues inviting Scottie Upshall to camp. Upshall has flirted with 20 goals on a few occasions and at 31 could be a decent short term fill-in for the injured Patrick Berglund.
Prediction time: The Rangers will have three centers break fifty points. Kevin Hayes will build on his fine rookie year and scrape past the half-ton.
Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello has been ‘cleared for the new season’. With the time Zuke has had to heal I’m sure most people will not see this as a surprise but regardless, it’s good to hear. Zuccarello has become an increasingly integral part of the Rangers. His importance will only increase as the Rangers have gotten younger up front and have lost Marty St Louis.
New Jersey Devil veteran defenseman Bryce Salvador has retired after a solid 14 year career. Injuries robbed Salvador of almost all of his final year in the NHL.
The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to ‘search’ for new owners. Really, this franchise hasn’t deserved to be littered with legendary talent like Lemieux, Jagr and Crosby because it’s only been kept in the city by hook or by crook over the years. Multiple ownership, finance and arena issues; the Pens have never been a model of stability despite being in a strong sports market and boasting a regularly high quality on-ice product.
It bears repeating. We’re in the dog days folks. If you’re into your European soccer, or NFL training camps/meaningless preseason shenanigans then I’m sure you’re coping. If you’re not then I hope we’re keeping you sane here at Blueseatblogs. Without further delay, on to the latest Around the League post.
Christian Ehrhoff signs for LA 1.5m 1 year
Christian Ehrhoff has finally found a home this offseason. The veteran German defenseman has signed a relatively paltry one year deal with the Kings for $1.5m. Ehrhoff had a pretty disappointing year with the Pens last season, struggling to stay healthy and putting up almost career worst numbers. However, this deal represents almost no risk for the Kings and makes you wonder why no other contending team jumped on Ehrhoff if he was available at this kind of cap commitment. If Ehrhoff can get back to his 30-40 point form he would represent a major steal for the Kings.
Carolina getting analytical
The cellar dwellers that are the Carolina Hurricanes have become the latest franchise to hire a blogger to help with their increased focus on analytics (maybe Dave has a future in hockey as well?…). Former blogger Eric Tulsky joined the ‘Canes as ‘Hockey Analyst’ last week. Hockey continues to move more and more towards analytics. Maybe it’s time I started to understand a bit more about all these fancy numbers…
Yahoo name Kreider as a fantasy sleeper
More and more fantasy posts are coming out now, looking ahead to the new year (‘tis the season) and Yahoo have suggested Chris Kreider could be a breakout candidate; something we’ve discussed numerous times. It’s a list worth looking at if you’re fantasy inclined.
It truly is the dog days of summer. It’s not just the Rangers that are quiet but the league in general is in its summer slumber but there’s still a few things worth discussing – both Ranger and league wide.
Danny Briere officially retired this week. Another undersized player, like Marty St Louis Briere also had to fight his way up depth charts to forge a good career. Even though he was a first round draft pick he wasn’t an immediate success. Not Hall of Fame worthy but almost 700 points as well as over 100 playoff points makes an impressive resume.
Offseason (slightly biased) prediction: Henrik Lundqvist finally wins his second Vezina. He should be fresh and will have a pretty big workload meaning strong volume stats.
With Derek Stepan’s new contract it’s a fair assumption that the Rangers have locked up their top two center positions for the foreseeable future. Stepan and Brassard will cost the Rangers a total of $11.5m, but with finances, age, contract situations and production all considered, are the Rangers in a good spot with their top center duo when compared to the better centers around the league?
This post has its flaws; it only looked at teams who had multiple centers amongst the top thirty scoring centers from last year’s regular season. Obviously there are other factors that need to be considered such as injuries, positional flexibility, form over multiple seasons and the development of prospects moving forward. At present, only the Sharks boasted three centers amongst the top thirty scorers at the position although Joe Pavelski played mostly as a winger on Joe Thornton’s line.
A quick overview of the players (and teams) amongst ‘the top thirty’ and the Rangers don’t necessarily have the star power or elite names that many of the other teams who feature can boast. The Rangers don’t have a Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby, Anze Kopitar or Tyler Seguin. What the Rangers do have though are two players with upside, who are under contract together for the next four years and who have both proven themselves in both the regular season and playoffs.
So who’s who in the top thirty?
Its Thursday so time for another dose of around the league, with some Rangers thoughts scattered in for good measure. While we have some hockey back on tap (rejoice!) the dog days are clearly here.
In news that will surprise absolutely no one, the NHL ‘invited’ both Las Vegas and Quebec to participate in the second round of the expansion application process. Of course, given the non refundable bonds put up to begin the process this is really just a formality and both groups were always going to enter this round.
Skapski sighting: The Hockey News check out Rangers goaltending prospect McKenzie Skapski’s new mask. It’s pretty cool.
In addition to checking on the teams in the Metropolitan we’re going to take a look at general league goings on as we’re in the middle of hockey summer and as we eventually approach the pre-season. So, without further delay…
Unsustainable shooting percentage
Starting with some Rangers stuff (hey, we’re a Ranger blog after all). Having looked at the shooting percentages, Kevin Hayes (15.3%) will be an interesting follow next year as his shooting % is surely unsustainable. Offensively Hayes finished the regular season on fire but can he repeat his numbers, can he kick on offensively or, given a likely shooting percentage regression, will his numbers take a dip?
Bernier lowballed by the Leafs.
While several Rangers prospects have received much greater attention over the past season or so, Steven Fogarty has flown a little under the radar despite making solid progress at Notre Dame. One of the main reasons Fogarty went the college (and Notre Dame) route was to concentrate on his play away from the puck and Fogarty looks like a player that can play all three zones. He’s become a strong defensive player.
Fogarty is a big boy at 6’3 and 200+ lbs and the Rangers have been able to leave him to develop at his own pace which means four full years at the college level. Fogarty will play one more year of college but the big two-way center has intriguing potential at the pro level and has appeared to make good progress throughout his college career. Fogarty wears the ‘C’ in Notre Dame and the level of responsibility bestowed on Fogarty will stand him in good stead as he approaches professional hockey.
The Edmonton Oilers have announced that they will raise a banner at Rexall Place to honour current Rangers President and now former Rangers general manager Glen Sather. Sather was, of course, the architect behind the Oilers dynasty in the 80’s.
The ceremony will take place on Dec. 11 before the game the same night against the Rangers. Sather coached the Oilers to four Stanley Cup championships. Sather has obviously been a polarizing figure for Rangers fans but no one can deny the impact he had on the Oilers so the banner raising is certainly well deserved.
‘Tis the season. It’s that time of year when teams look to lock up their free agents and it’s the time of year when a lot of long term deals get hammered out. The latest of those long term deals came this week as Ryan Kesler signed a 6 year pact with the Ducks for 41.25m. Kesler is a quality two way center and for a while, exactly what the Rangers would have liked at the 2C spot.
While Kesler is clearly at a different point in his career, he does offer some reflection on the Derek Stepan situation. Kesler averages around 50-55 points for his career and plays a very good two way game. He’s had good playoff success and with his reputation even $6.8m per year appears a team friendly deal for the Ducks – at least in the short term. Could the Rangers refer to Kesler in the Stepan negotiations?
We’re fast approaching the dog days of the hockey summer or are we already there? Let’s have a quick scan at some of things going on around the league as well as Rangers thoughts from the week just gone.
Power rankings: I place no great stock in power rankings at the best of times but especially ones published in summer. With that said, the hockey ‘experts’ at ESPN have the Rangers ranked at 11. Really? Do recent performances count for nothing? Three conference finals in four years, no truly significant roster losses and yet they’re behind Columbus, Montreal, Calgary, Washington and Minnesota amongst others. Ok then…
In my opinion, the Bruins did a lot of things wrong this summer but Jimmy Hayes was a nice acquisition and the new deal signed by Hayes could be a bargain. If he gets the ice time and develops and has the right linemates, 2.3m per year for three years could be an absolute steal. Especially given the inflated prices of 20 goal scorers in this league…