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Category: Around the League

Scouting the Playoffs: St. Louis Blues

Your Presidents' Trophy frontrunners...

Your Presidents’ Trophy frontrunners…

Being an enthusiast of following several teams closely, it’s only natural that playoff fever has hit me a bit earlier than for my nervous Rangers do or die fan counterparts. The great part of watching several teams is that you gain a perspective which you don’t get when your head is so far gone in hating that one guy on your team or figuring out why that other player isn’t getting enough ice time. It also educates you on the other conferences and divisions which your team will hopefully see down the road in May.

Throughout this journey of a season (isn’t it wonderful to have a full season again?), we were all graced with Olympic hockey which created a perfect opportunity for the casual hockey fan to learn about other teams. Who the heck is Bobby Ryan and why are we upset he isn’t being selected? Who is Cam Fowler? What is Blake Wheeler? All of these questions led to learning and eventually seeing these guys play.

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Trade deadline day two open thread

Yesterday was one of the more active day-before-deadline days we’ve seen in a while, as several significant moves went down. Roberto Luongo went to Florida, Andrew MacDonald went to Philadelphia, and Anaheim made a few moves that left a few people wondering why they essentially swapped Dustin Penner for Stephane Robidas. There were also four goalies moved yesterday. You can read the whole breakdown here.

Meanwhile, the Rangers were very quiet as they looked to hammer out a deal with Ryan Callahan. Nothing happened yesterday or last night, so he will either be re-signed (my guess) or traded if a deal cannot be worked out.

Use this as your open thread for the trade deadline. We will be updating this post with deals as they go down, with most recent deals on top. Moves the Rangers make will be bolded.

Final update: Matt Moulson (Sabres) has been traded to the Minnesota Wild along with Cody McCormick for Torrey Mitchell and draft picks. Reto Berra from Calgary to Colorado for a draft pick. Thomas Vanek from the Isles to Montreal for Stephen Collberg and a 2014 2nd round pick. David Legwand from Nashville to Detroit. Jaroslav Halak goes from Buffalo to Washington for Michal Neuvirth and a 2014 5th round pick.

3:10pm: Rangers acquire defenseman Raphael Diaz from Vancouver for a 2015 5th round pick.

2:45pm: Boston sends a 3rd rounder to Philly for Andrej Meszaros.

2:25pm: Tim Thomas has been traded from the Florida Panthers to the Dallas Stars for Dan Ellis. Nick Schultz goes from Edmonton to Columbus for a 5th round pick in 2014.

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Trade deadline madness, day one open thread

For those of you without Twitter, today was a very eventful day as the trade deadline approaches tomorrow. The Rangers were quiet, with all focus on Ryan Callahan’s situation, but in a day where nothing much was expected, everything happened. None were on par with the St. Louis/Buffalo deal on Friday though.

The biggest trade was announced at 4:45pm EST, when Roberto Luongo went back to Florida for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias. The full list of trades is below (or here if you prefer), and will be updated as things break on Twitter. Any moves the Rangers make will be bolded, and newer trades will be after the jump.

  • The Florida Panthers Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias to Vancouver for Roberto Luongo, with Vancouver eating some salary, and Steven Anthony.
  • The Philadelphia Flyers traded Matt Mangene, a 2014 3rd round pick, and a 2015 2nd round pick for defenseman Andrew MacDonald of the Islanders.
  • The Montreal Canadiens sent a 2014 5th round pick to Florida for Mike Weaver.
  • Dustin Penner was sent from the Anaheim Ducks to the Washington Capitals for a 2014 4th round pick.
  • That 2014 4th round pick Anaheim acquired was used to acquire Stephane Robidas from the Dallas Stars. The pick can move to a 2014 3rd round pick if the Ducks make it to the Conference Finals.
  • Anaheim also sent Viktor Fasth to Edmonton for a 2014 5th round pick and a 2015 3rd round pick.
  • Edmonton then sent Ilya Bryzgalov to the Minnesota Wild for a 2014 4th round pick.
  • The Ottawa Senators sent Jeff Costello to Vancouver for Patrick Cullen.

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A rare book review – 99: Gretzky: His Game, His Story

99: Gretzky: His Game, His Story

The best thing I can say about Al Strachan’s 99: Gretzky: His Game, His Story is that it’s different than any other Wayne Gretzky book I’ve read before. That’s not meant to be a small compliment – I’ve gobbled up what feels like a million magazine clippings, biographies and articles online about Gretzky’s life, from his youth in Brantford, Ontario to the big trade with the Kings (if you’re interested in that, check this book out), and finally to the conclusion of Gretzky’s career with the Rangers. Most of them feel very similar.

Strachan writes his book from the point of view of Gretzky’s friend, which is a weakness at times – Strachan goes over the top to defend Gretzky’s reputation – but also a strength due to the personal experiences Strachan has witnessed firsthand and heard about from The Great One himself.

The second chapter hooked me right in as Strachan describes Gretzky’s time with the Blueshirts. There are great little anecdotes about Gretzky’s crisis of confidence in his first season with the team (can you imagine that?) and the back injury that may have ended his career prematurely. Strachan also mentions New York’s efforts to acquire sniper Pavel Bure during the 1996-1997 season to pair with Gretzky, and even the club’s offer to trade The Great One to any other team in the league if he wanted to continue playing elsewhere.

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Identifying the trade deadline sellers

Available again. (Photo: USATSI)

Available again. (Photo: USATSI)

This is a unique season for the NHL. The last time there was a roster freeze for the Olympics, the unofficial trade deadline was the day before the freeze. This year, the same thing appears to be happening, as teams are beginning to make trades. The difference between four years ago and today is that unlike four years ago, this is a “salary cap correction” season.

For those unfamiliar with cap space, it is accrued over time. It is why Capgeek has a “deadline space” section for each team. As each day passes, the team accrues more cap space. Without getting into the intricate details, teams have the most cap space to work with at the actual trade deadline. That’s important because this year is one where teams desperately need cap space due to the lockout.

Due to this, we are likely going to see action at both deadlines. But which teams are sellers? The Bettman Bonus Point has blurred the lines between pretenders and contenders.

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How the 2013 free agent class has performed this season

David Clarkson’s contract looks like a disaster for Toronto

We’re just past the halfway mark of the 2013-2014 season and it’s a pretty safe time to evaluate how a player’s season has gone.  So with that in mind, let’s take a look back at the unrestricted free agent class of 2013 – specifically some forwards that could have been Ranger targets as they sought to bolster their offense.  Were these players money well spent?*

David Clarkson – seven years, $36.75 million

2013-2014 stats: 3 goals, 5 assists, 102 hits, 51 penalty minutes

Toronto would love a way out of this one already.  Clarkson has rarely been healthy, and he’s been ineffective when he has been on the ice.

Valtteri Filppula – five years, $25 million

2013-2014 stats: 18 goals, 18 assists, 12 power play points, 88 shots

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Where are they now? Rangers edition

I was casually watching (a DVR of) some Saturday afternoon hockey between the Senators and the Coyotes when something struck me as strange; no, it wasn’t that all of the Sens goals came from not-your-average offensive player, it was that Lauri Korpikoski (or as I fondly call him, the Korpedo) got an assist. “Wow,” I thought aloud to myself, as I often do in my apartment, “the Korpedo is still alive? I wonder what other Rangers are still dabbling around the West.” And so, here is my post for today…

John Tortorella, Head Coach with the Rangers 2008-2013 | Now: Canucks Head Coach

Well, duh. Whether you loved or hated Torts’ exit last summer, you definitely had strong feelings about it. Awful with the media? Yep. Kind of mean to the players in public? Sure. Known for a hardcore training camp that would kill you or me? Absolutely. But still, for his time in New York, stats prove that you cannot deny his efficiency; in five seasons, he missed the playoffs once. However, his relationship with players, the media, and his lack of a championship ring on Broadway eventually shuttled him out and on his way to the Pacific Northwest. So, how is he now? Efficient. His Canucks have 48 points, winning 8 of their last 10 with one of those losses in OT. They were a bit shaky at first but it seems that they have adjusted to the system, and shockingly for many Rangers fans, the stars are responding and thriving under Torts’ hard-nosed approach. As a fan who was sad to see him go, I didn’t miss his outbursts like he showed at MSG against Alex Edler; however, it appears these guys can handle it. Hey, maybe Torts will find Musky in Vancouver, who knows.

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Gearing up for the Stadium Series

Photo: SportsLogos.net

Photo: SportsLogos.net

Picture it: it’s New Year’s Day, snowing outside, and you’re lazing around on your couch either bored cause of the holiday or nursing your head from excess champagne the night before. Lucky for you, not only is hockey gracing your television, it’s the way hockey should be played: outdoors. The NHL must’ve made some serious bank, cause this year we get SIX games played the way it was intended: outdoors (Canadian influence) and on a rink atop a baseball or football field (American influence). Let’s break them down.

Game 1: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings, January 1, 2014 @ 1pm

This game gets the official Winter Classic billing, as it will be played on New Year’s Day in Ann Arbor. The game features division rivals who are pretty close in the standings playing at the University of Michigan. Since this is the Winter Classic, it gets the fan-favorite 24/7 series on HBO, which started last night, and really who doesn’t love watching almost strictly for the goalies? It’s always fun to watch two Original Six teams play each other, as they’re no stranger to each other; they’ve met seven times in the Cup Finals, with the Leafs dominating with six series wins. Maybe Clarkson will stop taking silly suspensions by then, but we can never be too sure. Either way, these two teams are a solid matchup and should make for an entertaining start to 2014.

I’m most looking forward to…:  Steve Yzerman, my all time sports crush, participating in the alumni game on New Year’s Eve. My heart skipped a beat when I read this.

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Dirty hits and their impact on the league

Suit’s post yesterday was spot on about the need for grit, not goons, on this Rangers team. Though the Rangers need grit, the goons have been out in full force this past weekend in the NHL. For as long as I can remember being a fan, the debate of banning fighting has been around, but that’s not what we’ve seen this past weekend; we’ve seen extremely dangerous and unsportsmanlike hits. Let’s take a look at three of them, and what potential suspensions may arise.

James Neal knees Brad Marchand – Saturday, 12/7, Pens vs Bruins

This case is pretty ugly. Marchand is tripped and laying on the ice with his head up when Neal skates towards the puck and, en route, ensures that his knee makes direct contact with Marchand’s head. I’m not sure what’s most offensive about this play – that he kneed Marchand while he was down in the head, or that he skated off like it was no big deal. The fact that Marchand is a pesky player who routinely gets under the opposing teams skin is never an excuse to make such an abusive play. Neal had his hearing yesterday and was given a 5 game suspension, in part due to the lack of injury from the play, and also in part due to his history (Neal has been fined once and suspended once in the past 3 seasons). This was only a small part of a rough game, which saw 40 minutes of penalty time, including a game misconduct on the next play in this series…

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Sunday Grab Bag: … are Brothers?

Staals are brothers

Staals are brothers

Today we’ll explore a subject that is near and dear to all of our hearts and livers, NHL players who are (or are they??) brothers. This topic comes about every time the Rangers play Carolina and Sam and Joe have a party over reminding us that Staals are brothers, which has become a fairly popular drinking game amongst the Rangers fan base who enjoy adult beverages from time to time. This has led me to wondering about other potential brothers, so here we go….

Last Name: Staal | Relation: Brothers

Yes, they’re brothers. Just look at them – seriously, they all look alike. The four brothers (from oldest to youngest) – Eric, Marc, Jordan and Jared – have all had more than just a minute playing professional hockey. We can thank the patriarch, Henry, for building the boys a rink in their native Thunder  Bay and imbedding hockey into them at a young age. Eric has been captain of Carolina since 2010, with Jordan serving as one of his alternates since he was traded in 2012, and Marc has been a Rangers alternate captain since 2010. Jared hasn’t quite broken in yet with the Carolina organization, but it’s safe to say the genes in this family are pretty decent. Spanning from ages 23-29, the brothers have over 1,500 NHL games played with over 1,000 points (and remember, Marc is a defenseman), two Stanley Cup wins, two World Junior golds, and one Olympic gold medal. Not sure if the Rangers fans have quite forgiven Eric for concussing Marc in 2011, but next time you think your family gatherings are awkward, imagine what their Christmas must have been like that year, as Marc missed the first three months of the 2011-2012 season due to post-concussion symptoms.

Fun fact: Jordan and Eric got arrested at Eric’s bachelor party in 2007.

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