Author Archive

Chris Kreider led the Rangers with 28 goals last season

This list is my best guess at how the front office collectively views its depth chart now and looking towards the future. That means that age, contract, potential and position matter. Past performance holds less weight.

Note that though it’s a foregone conclusion Filip Chytil is going to win multiple Hart Trophies, I’m only including the players that seem to be in the mix for roster spots this season.

While I naturally assumed that Henrik Lundqvist would top my list going into the process, I came to a different conclusion upon further consideration.

I invite you all to share your own rankings in the comments as I think you’ll come to similarly surprising results. So without further ado…

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Categories : Offseason
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Is Brian Elliott the answer in goal for Philadelphia?

Washington Capitals

The Caps experienced the most significant turnover of any Metro team, and not for the better. Washington lost Kevin Shattenkirk, Justin Williams, Nate Schmidt, Karl Alzner and Marcus Johansson. They did lock up Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie and Dmitry Orlov, but any way you slice it this team took a giant step back. To his credit, GM Brian MacLellan admitted that the salary cap had simply caught up to him and after going for it the last two seasons the writing was on the wall. Washington still has a ton of talent and will absolutely be in the playoff hunt, but the Caps don’t look like the bona fide contender they’ve been for the last decade.

New Jersey Devils

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Aug
01

Let’s talk about John Tavares

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John Tavares is 11th among active players in points per game

As the summer drags on, the attention of the hockey world is beginning to shift to the coming season and beyond.

One storyline that is already generating buzz and will only continue to build momentum is the pending free agency of John Tavares.

For his part, Tavares has repeatedly expressed his desire to remain an Islander. That said – the reasons he might start seriously thinking about leaving the Islanders are obvious.

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Only 10 regulars remain from Gorton’s first season running the organization

Jeff Gorton was officially named general manager of the Rangers on July 1, 2015 and though his influence on player personnel decisions began long before then, that date marks a clear crossroads in organizational strategy.

Gorton spent last summer methodically revamping the forward corps and followed that up with a defensive overhaul this offseason. His fingerprints are now all over the roster, with a clear commitment to youth, speed and skill.

While there have been a slew of minor transactions along the way, I’ve focused on Gorton’s more significant moves to gain perspective on his tenure thus far.

June 27, 2015: Traded Carl Hagelin, a 2nd-round pick and a 6th to Anaheim for Emerson Etem and a 2nd (Ryan Gropp)
Though Gorton didn’t technically take office until a few days later, he was assuredly calling the shots here. And while the Blueshirts were in a cap bind and needed to shed salary, the return for Hagelin was a pittance. There’s still a chance that Gropp turns into a serviceable NHLer, but right now it’s hard to view this swap as anything but an unmitigated disaster.
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Categories : Offseason
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James van Riemsdyk scored a career-high 62 points last season

Though there remains the possibility of a trade for a center, the dust has mostly settled on the 2017 offseason.

But what might the future hold? There will likely be significant changes again next offseason, when Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, David Desharnais, Nick Holden and Ondrej Pavelec are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents.

Assuming Mika Zibanejad re-signs, that will leave the Blueshirts around $23 million in cap space. A big portion of that will go towards re-upping RFAs J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes, Jimmy Vesey and Brady Skjei, but there should still be some cash to play with.

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Categories : Offseason
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Jul
12

Exploring the trade market for centers

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Over the last four seasons Tyler Bozak averaged .68 points per game. During that time, Derek Stepan averaged .73.

Tyler Bozak

The Leafs backed themselves into a corner with the signing of Patrick Marleau and now exceed the summer salary cap threshold, leading to speculation they may have to trade a veteran for some relief. But with both Joffrey Lupul and Nathan Horton on the roster in name only and headed straight for LTIR, Toronto isn’t in nearly as bad of shape as it might seem. Still, the Leafs have a glut of forwards so pending UFAs James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak continue to circulate through the rumor mill. With the players carrying nearly identical $4.2 million cap hits and not part of the Leafs’ future plans, there’s reason to believe Toronto might move one of them before the season.

New York would likely be interested in acquiring either player. A move for JVR would cement J.T. Miller’s move back to the middle, but give the Blueshirts impressive depth down the wings. Bozak, 31, would slot in as the second center behind Mika Zibanejad and be capable of matching Derek Stepan’s offensive production while also representing a huge upgrade at the faceoff dots. The Rangers would surely try to build a trade package for either player around Nick Holden, an expiring contract himself. But while Toronto might view Holden as a useful addition to a patchwork defense, Holden’s own $1.65 million cap hit reduces the allure somewhat.

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David Desharnais registered 14 points in 49 games with Montreal and Edmonton last season

– David Desharnais was a frequent whipping boy in Montreal, but he put up pretty solid numbers across most of his tenure with the Habs until the bottom fell out last year and Desharnais was sent to Edmonton for Brandon Davidson. In an extremely weak free agent crop with most of the available centers already scooped up, Desharnais was one of the better options. But don’t kid yourself – this is a bargain bin flyer and nothing more. Desharnais will be 31 when the season starts and has little left in the tank. He has drawn highly favorable offensive zone starts throughout his career, which might be hard to come by in New York. Desharnais should still chip in some supporting offense, but he still leaves the Blueshirts one-dimensional down the middle and lacking a pivot that can handle tough assignments.

– It looks increasingly likely that J.T. Miller will be moved back to center. He’s a better option than anything else that’s realistic at this point, but Miller presents the same problem as Desharnais and Kevin Hayes. None of them are aces in their own end, leaving a whole lot of pressure on Mika Zibanejad. An improved defense will mask this deficiency, but it’s going to be a problem nonetheless. Perhaps Boo Nieves or Lias Andersson can steal a job at training camp, but asking them to anchor a checking unit as a rookie would be unfair.

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Categories : Musings
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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
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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)