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Jun
28

If not Joe Thornton, then who?

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Sam Gagner posted 50 points last season, including 18 on the power play

At the draft GM Jeff Gorton expressed his comfort with having Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes as his one-two punch down the middle – and whether you take that at face value or not, the Rangers have a gaping hole to fill at center in the wake of the Derek Stepan trade.

The most attractive solution is to sign Joe Thornton, the surefire Hall of Famer that has anchored San Jose’s top line for over a decade. Thornton has demonstrated terrific chemistry with Rick Nash in the past and is the one free agent that’s capable of matching, if not exceeding Stepan’s annual production.

But signing Thornton is not without its drawbacks. For one thing, Thornton and the Sharks have a mutual love affair that seems likely to continue. The only thing precluding a new pact between the two parties thus far is Thornton’s desire for a three-year deal, which is a tough ask for a near-38-year-old coming off major knee surgery.

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Categories : Offseason
Comments (85)

Jason Demers carries an affordable $4.5 million cap hit for the next four years

Recent developments including the buyout of Dan Girardi, pending retirement of Kevin Klein and $2 million cap ceiling increase have dramatically shifted the offseason picture for the Blueshirts. What appeared to be a team in a relative bind a week ago is now one armed with the cash necessary to make seismic changes this offseason.

Assuming Klein does indeed hang up his skates, the Rangers should have upwards of $16 million available – and that’s before factoring in the player New York will lose this week to expansion. If it’s Antti Raanta, the number will climb to over $17 million, and if it’s Michael Grabner, the figure jumps to the neighborhood of $18 million.

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Categories : Offseason
Comments (100)

Matt Duchene is one of many intriguing players that could be on the move in the coming days

We’ve been speculating for months about what the expansion draft would mean for the Rangers and the consequences league-wide. And yet, here we are just days away from a seismic shift in personnel around the NHL and there’s still little clarity of New York’s plans. We know two things for sure:

1) The Blueshirts will lose at least one player to Las Vegas, and potentially several more in corresponding maneuvers.

2) The Rangers have expressed an organizational desire to get younger on defense.

Beyond that the dots are near impossible to connect. Read More→

Categories : Musings
Comments (28)

Kevin Klein’s retirement would shave $2.9 million from the Rangers’ cap total

Larry Brooks dropped the first of potentially many bombshells yesterday with his report that Kevin Klein is leaning towards retirement from the NHL. Though Brooks cautioned that Klein’s mind is not made up, it sounds like New York might be gifted $2.9 million in cap space at a very opportune time.

Klein only has one year remaining on his pact, but with Rick Nash’s hefty $7.8 million cap hit coming off the books next summer, the Rangers are really only worried about a cap bind in the short term. CapFriendly currently projects New York’s 2017-2018 cap total at $63.8 million, but wiping Klein from the ledger would drop them to $60.9 million of the projected $73 million ceiling.

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Comments (15)

The Predators have four D-men with 10+ points, while Pittsburgh has the four leading scorers in the postseason

– As we relearn every year in hockey, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. The final four teams in the 2017 playoffs were drastically different in style. The defending champion Penguins were built around two megastars down the middle, a younger rotating cast of supporting pieces and a patchwork defense. The Senators have one all-world talent on defense but mainly made it so far because of an outstanding commitment to team defense and dogged determination. The Ducks have probably the league’s deepest defense and are a load to handle up front, but were very top heavy. And the Predators have the most offensively active blueline in the league to go with an under-appreciated roster of blossoming young players. There’s no one model to achieve success in today’s NHL.

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Categories : Musings
Comments (63)
May
31

How good is Igor Shestyorkin?

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Igor Shestyorkin was 27-4-6 with a .937 SV%, 1.64 GAA and 8 shutouts last season

For the first time last season, Ranger fans were confronted with Henrik Lundqvist’s mortality. The King endured his worst statistical season in the NHL and while that certainly doesn’t lie only at his feet, there are signs that Lundqvist is no longer capable of being a magic eraser for New York every single night.

So while the thought of life after Lundqvist is extremely unpleasant, it’s a reality the Blueshirts are beginning to confront, much as the Football Giants began to do this spring with the drafting of Davis Webb in preparation for the eventual retirement of Eli Manning.

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Categories : Prospects
Comments (29)

Derek Stepan has registered at least 53 points in each of the last four seasons

With the Rangers hamstrung by a tricky cap situation, several cumbersome no-movement clauses and few tradable assets that make sense to part with, there’s been quite a bit of chatter that Derek Stepan might be the most logical piece to dangle in exchange for a right-handed defenseman.

But while there’s some plausibility to the idea, dealing Stepan would also leave a gaping hole at center. So hypothetically speaking, how could the Rangers handle the crucial pivot position if Stepan were shipped out of town?

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Comments (139)

Navigating the salary cap and expansion draft with a weak prospect pool will be a tall task

The spring cleaning began in earnest for the Rangers yesterday with the firing of Hartford coach Ken Gernander and reassignments of Chris Drury and Jim Schoenfeld. The work will only get harder from here for the team’s front office.

Unlike last season when the Blueshirts considered a wholesale makeover but chose to mainly stand pat, GM Jeff Gorton and coach Alain Vigneault have been candid in the wake of the latest playoff ouster that major roster changes will be made this summer.

But that will be easier said than done.

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Categories : Offseason
Comments (123)

Ilya Kovalchuk was second in KHL scoring this season with 78 points

– The best player on the ice for the Blueshirts last night was Mika Zibanejad. Everyone expected Big Game Brass to take vengeance on his former club, but it’s Zibanejad that has three points in the series while Brassard has zilch. Zibanejad really has all the tools. In a few years we’ll either look back at the Zibanejad/Brassard trade as the modern day McDonagh/Gomez swap, or we’ll view Zibanejad as Nik Zherdev 2.0. I still think he’s going to blossom into a star.

– Another major positive from Game 3 was the return of Kevin Hayes. Along with Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan, Hayes has been pretty much invisible throughout the postseason. He looked like a different player last night.

– Tapped in Russian reporter Slava Malamud created a bit of a frenzy this week with a series of tweets in which he indicated Ilya Kovalchuk’s desire to return to the NHL after a three-year stay in the KHL. Malamud also noted there’s not much interest in a reunion by either Kovalchuk or the Devils, but Kovalchuk’s preference would be to stay in the NYC area (read: Rangers or Islanders), or move to Florida.

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Categories : Musings
Comments (35)
Apr
26

Rangers vs. Senators: Defense preview

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Erik Karlsson led the league in scoring by a defensemen three straight seasons from 2013-2016

Erik Karlsson is so good that you could make a case that he alone gives Ottawa the edge on defense over the Blueshirts.

The 26-year-old D-man is in the midst of his greatest season – which we seem to say every year. In addition to being the catalyst for the Senators’ offense, Karlsson has really rounded out his defensive play and is now a shutdown player in his own end, too.

Karlsson is averaging over 30 minutes a game so far during the playoffs and shows no signs of being hampered by two hairline fractures in his left foot. Keeping him in check may be the key to the series.

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Categories : Playoffs
Comments (45)