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Could McIlrath be reunited on a pairing with Keith Yandle in Florida? (Photo by David Hahn/Icon Sportswire)

Could McIlrath be reunited on a pairing with Keith Yandle in Florida? (Photo by David Hahn/Icon Sportswire)

– I wonder if Dylan McIlrath requested a trade and that wish was granted once Jacob Trouba re-signed. I was very skeptical that McIlrath was part of a hypothetical swap with the Jets, but the timing is awfully curious coming a day after the Trouba situation was resolved given that McIlrath cleared waivers a week ago.

– McIlrath himself just wasn’t cut out for the game Alain Vigneault wants to play. You could argue that he deserved a better shot and should have played in place of Dan Girardi last year, but it’s not like the Blueshirts gave up on a future Norris Trophy winner here.

– In any case, let’s hope for the best for McIlrath. He had a great attitude throughout the last couple years under difficult circumstances. By all accounts he was a great teammate. And we’ll always have this.

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Categories : Musings
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Nov
02

The Rangers are contenders (again)

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Jeff Gorton's case for GM of the Year is looking strong in the early going

Jeff Gorton’s case for GM of the Year is looking strong in the early going

The season isn’t even a month old and we’re not yet 1/8 of the way through this marathon, but screw it, I’m ready to call the Rangers contenders once again. In a season when nearly every pundit expected the Blueshirts to fall back to the fringe of the playoff picture due to their leaky defense, New York has instead emerged as a lethal transition team that has speed and skill throughout its lineup, its most dangerous power play in recent memory, and as usual, all-world goaltending.

Indeed, the hype train is leaving the station. NBC analysts Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire agreed that the Blueshirts have re-established themselves among the game’s elite teams and there’s even early buzz that Jeff Gorton could be a candidate for GM of the Year.

So are we getting ahead of ourselves?

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Henrik Lundqvist is 14th on the all-time wins list and could move into the top 10 this season

Henrik Lundqvist is 14th on the all-time wins list and could move into the top 10 this season

Despite convincing data that Henrik Lundqvist remained at the top of his game last season, there has been growing chatter that Lundqvist is no longer among the game’s elite netminders.

“He’s dropped off a little bit for me,” an NHL scout told ESPN’s Craig Custance. “I hate to say it, but I think he’s on the backside of things now.”

There are likely a few reasons for the number of growing doubters:

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Categories : Players
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Buchnevich's extra time in the KHL looks like it's paying dividends

Buchnevich’s extra time in the KHL looks like it’s paying dividends

The Rangers’ 2016-2017 season is still in its infancy, but already positive signs abound for the vaunted rookie class. All of Jimmy Vesey, Pavel Buchnevich and Brady Skjei have looked very strong in the early going and they’ve quickly emerged as key contributors to a team in transition.

Perhaps that shouldn’t come as a tremendous shock. These aren’t your typical rookies, who are often lanky teenagers from Canadian junior hockey that wow in camp but are still a ways away from growing into their bodies and recognizing their potential.

Each of the Rangers’ rookies reached New York under unique circumstances, but prior to this season one thing they all had in common is that they’d established themselves against adult-level competition.

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Categories : Players
Comments (38)

I tried this post last year and people seemed to really like it, so here’s the second edition!

Adam Clendening – #4

Pretty solid chirps from Clendening directed at the master himself, Paul Bissonnette.

Dan Girardi – #5

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Categories : Players
Comments (3)
The Buffalo Killer has picked up right where he left off despite a series of injuries (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Buffalo Killer has picked up right where he left off despite a series of injuries (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

The good

The Rangers are going to score a million goals this year
Yes, I know someone needs to get the forwards the puck and there’s still not a clear solution to that conundrum. But the sheer amount of talent up front is pretty impressive. Both Pavel Buchnevich and Jimmy Vesey look prepared to contribute right out of the gate, and Brandon Pirri has showcased a rare ability to put the puck during the net in the preseason. On top of that, Mika Zibanejad appears capable of picking up right where Derick Brassard left off and then some. The Rangers have more than enough forwards to fill three scoring lines, and even the anticipated checking line should have a much better chance of chipping in offensively than in years past.

New York might have found a power play quarterback

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Ryan Graves' stock is on the rise

Ryan Graves’ stock is on the rise

The mandate for Jeff Gorton this offseason was clear: retool the Blueshirts while extending the window to win the Stanley Cup. Though many of us believe that Gorton’s troops will struggle to reach that goal with the defense as currently assembled, he has certainly begun executing a significant makeover.

Up front, Gorton has stockpiled a young group of forwards that stacks up with any in the league. New York will have one of the NHL’s youngest rosters this season with room to grow for many key players still 25 years old or younger including Chris Kreider, Brandon Pirri, Kevin Hayes, Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast, J.T. Miller, Mika Zibanejad, Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich – not to mention 26-year-old first-line center Derek Stepan.

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Categories : Defense
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A new approach to building depth on defense is just one of the changes we've seen this summer

A new approach to building depth on defense is just one of the changes we’ve seen this summer

– I have no idea where Brandon Pirri fits into the puzzle, but that’s not stopping me from being very pleased by the signing. There’s loads of evidence that Pirri is truly an elite goal scorer, and while he leaves a lot to be desired with his two-way play, being able to put the puck in the net at the rate Pirri does is truly a rare trait.

– The Pirri signing is the latest in a string of moves by the front office that show increasing reliance on #fancystats and sound economical decision-making. Part of the change is due to the team’s tricky cap situation entering the summer, but all of Pirri, Michael Grabner, Josh Jooris and Nathan Gerbe are under-the-radar depth signings that extend the lineup and could turn a mediocre possession team into a good one  – if the Blueshirts could fix the defense.

– Remember when everyone briefly panicked about the reports that New York was going to offer Maxim Lapierre a PTO? That seems like a distant memory. He’s probably near 20th on the forward depth chart now.

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Categories : Musings
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It might be much easier to find a trade partner for Mats Zuccarello than Rick Nash this late in the summer

It might be much easier to find a trade partner for Mats Zuccarello than Rick Nash this late in the summer

Now that the Blueshirts have pulled off another late-summer coup and added coveted prospect Jimmy Vesey to their lineup for the coming season, the club is loaded with forwards and many are wondering if the next domino to fall is a deal for help on defense.

But though the Rangers are well equipped to trade from their excess depth, finding a trade partner will be no easy task. This late in the summer teams have basically assembled the rosters they intend to bring to training camp. Adding free agent scraps is one thing, but making a blockbuster move at this point is extremely rare.

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Jimmy Vesey won the Hobey Baker Award with 46 points (24 goals, 22 assists) as a senior

Jimmy Vesey won the Hobey Baker Award with 46 points (24 goals, 22 assists) as a senior

After weeks of relative silence, the rumor mill will begin churning again this week as August 15 approaches. That’s the day Jimmy Vesey officially becomes an unrestricted free agent.

The heralded Harvard alum is essentially this year’s version of Kevin Hayes and will draw league-wide interest after spurning first Nashville, then Buffalo after the Sabres traded for his rights prior to the draft.

By most accounts, Vesey is an NHL-ready prospect that could instantly step into an NHL lineup and has legitimate top-six potential.

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Categories : Prospects
Comments (48)