Archive for Irresponsible Rumormongering
Per our very own Josh Khalfin, citing Igor Eronko, the Rangers are likely to sign Russian defenseman Alexei Bereglazov once his KHL deal expires. Bereglazov is a big dude at 6’4″ and 220 lbs, but is a very mobile skater. Josh did a full breakdown of him earlier this month, and you should definitely check it out.
Should he sign with the Rangers, he will likely need a little time in the AHL to get accustomed to the North American rink and game. However he is a solid player and could slide into the lineup almost right away. The added benefit –aside from just landing a solid prospect, even at 22 years old– is that Bereglazov played in the KHL, and is someone that Pavel Buchnevich is familiar with. Buchnevich passed on all bonuses to have a KHL-out clause in his deal. This could be a move to keep Buchnevich comfortable as well.
These are just rumors for now, but very strong rumors. Nothing can be official until his contract in the KHL officially expires.
Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers have their sights set on Hobey Baker finalist Mike Vecchione of Union College. Josh wrote briefly on Vecchione, stating that he is one of the more dynamic centers in the NCAA. He put up 29-34-63 in 38 games this year with Union. In 149 NCAA games, he has a line of 71-105-176.
The drawback here is that Vecchione is already 24 years old, and much like prior undrafted NCAA free agents, he has more leverage than Vinni Letteri and Vince Pedrie. The Rangers would likely need to sign him this year –ineligible for the playoffs– which would burn a year of his ELC. It’s certainly a risk.
But with risk comes reward. It is likely the Rangers lost one of Jesper Fast or Oscar Lindberg to Vegas in expansion. If Vecchione can make the jump right away, which is no guarantee, then he might be able to fill that fourth line role.
Antti Raanta has been having a stellar season. Forced into more playing time than expected, he has shined brightly and helped stabilize what could have been a disaster in net for the Blueshirts. It’s reminiscent of when Cam Talbot was forced into more playing time when Ryan McDonagh tried to decapitate Henrik Lundqvist.
Talbot was traded that offseason to the Edmonton Oilers for three draft picks that the Rangers desperately needed. Almost immediately after the trade, the Rangers landed Raanta in a deal with Chicago for Ryan Haggerty. Haggerty is already 24 and has not seen a single NHL game. Suffice it to say, Benoit Allaire picked his man wisely.
Per Elliotte Friedman, the Rangers are considered the favorites for KHL defenseman Alexei Bereglazov. This is only one of the hopefully many prospect signings the Rangers will be making this offseason and I think Berglazov is a nice start for a project defenseman.
Only 22 years old, the 6’4 Russian defenseman is a very nice prospect to add to the pool as many of these big defensemen take a longer while to develop. The good news is that in his last three seasons in the KHL, Bereglazov has been developing and improving in all facets of his game. When discussing him, we should really talk about his playing style. He is a big, physical, defensive defenseman who uses his size and brains to his advantage in the zone. His positioning is very good as well.
There is a growing line of thinking on Twitter that the Rangers should stand pat this deadline, perhaps take advantage of Michael Grabner’s season by trading him now, and then retool the blue line for next season. At the start of the season, I was on this train. It made logical sense, since the Rangers likely wouldn’t be able to compete for a Cup with the blue line as it currently stands.
Fast forward to today, and I have changed my line of thinking. Never in my life did I think the group of forwards the Rangers assembled would be this good. They are a top scoring team and winning despite the blue line. Flags fly forever, and there are are only so many years left to get Henrik Lundqvist (and other career Rangers) a Cup. All eyes are now on Jeff Gorton and how to address the black hole that is the defense to get closer to that Cup.
Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers are getting a lot of calls as the trade deadline approaches, most of them asking for JT Miller. Luckily, the answer the Rangers have been giving to every team is “no.” When the season started, Miller appeared to be the odd man out in any deal to address the defense. However Miller has played himself into possibly untouchable territory.
Of course no one is truly untouchable, and Miller can likely still be had in the right deal for a stud defenseman. However as of now, those offers have not been made. So have no fear, Miller won’t be gone in the wrong deal. And yes, dealing Miller for Kevin Shattenkirk is the wrong deal.
Brooks noted that the Rangers have been heavily scouting the Kings, and while we concluded that it could have been for Alec Martinez, Brooks thinks it’s for 24-year-old defenseman Paul LaDue. But as Brooks states, do you really think Alain Vigneault will sit Kevin Klein for a kid with little NHL experience?
It’s trade season, and that means everyone and their mother has an idea of what the Rangers should do in order to improve the team. Whether this means buying, selling, or standing pat, we’ve all entertained various thoughts in our heads as to what could, should, or might happen.
Last week I wrote about how perspective matters and on the most recent podcast we talked with Sean Hartnett about how close this team is to contending (with the always intelligent Hartnett offering his opinion that the Rangers are a “tier 2” contender, just below the level of say, the Penguins). Prior to that I had written about how the Rangers could improve this blue line, floating the idea of acquiring Cody Franson and waiting until the summer for Kevin Shattenkirk. Some recent developments however, have changed my mind.
Some interesting tidbits coming up today for the Rangers, per Chris Nichols. First is that they are still hovering around Kevin Shattenkirk, but the price is way too high for the Rangers right now. There is a rumor that the Blues/Lightning were talking about Tyler Johnson in this kind of swap. If that’s true, the price on the Rangers’ end would be someone you don’t want to part with for a rental, even if he’s likely to re-sign in New York.
If Shattenkirk doesn’t come to New York, then Nichols, citing Darren Dreger, thinks the Rangers are targeting Brendan Smith of the Red Wings. Smith is a solid defensive guy, great at suppressing shots. He’s also a pending UFA, so the cost should be less. He’s a lefty though, so some lineup tinkering would need to be done. He’s capable of playing both sides, though.
Smith is a shrewd pickup at the right price. If the Rangers go this way, my guess is that he or Brady Skjei goes to the right side and Kevin Klein goes to the press box. But that’s just my assumption.
There’s not much going on today in the world that is the Rangers. Regurgitating the same content about the team is getting old. We know the forwards are good. We know the defense stinks. We know the goaltending is getting better. The trade deadline is coming, and with it comes the hopes (fears?) that the Rangers will make a move to address their weaknesses. But in the back of everyone’s mind is something coming up in June: The Expansion Draft.
There are some that think this year’s trade deadline will be quiet because of expansion. Multi-year deals are going to be tough sells, especially if teams can’t protect an additional player. Teams can only protect 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goalie (or 8 skaters and 1 goalie). Rookies/second year pros are exempt, but players with NMCs must be protected. But all AHL guys beyond their second year must be exposed. Teams can only lose one player to expansion.
It hasn’t quite worked out. Kulikov has played in just 31 games this year, missing time with a lower-back injury suffered in the first preseason game that has also caused running pain down his legs for much of the season.
Kulikov has logged just two points and now seems like an afterthought in Buffalo’s future plans rather than a building block. Indeed, there have been growing rumblings that Kulikov could be on the block as we approach the trade deadline.