Archive for Irresponsible Rumormongering

dougie hamilton

It is no secret that the Rangers want to improve defensively. It is not just the bloggers who say it too, as NHL insider Pierre Lebrun yesterday said that the Rangers are doing their due diligence and will likely make a trade for a defenseman this season. I don’t really consider this “insider news” but I am a narcissist and like when the league is talking about the Rangers doing something potentially smart.

There are many factors that go into this small rumor. First and foremost is the Rangers’ ability to value players and defensemen. I’d say that for the most part, supreme leader Jeff Gorton has impressed a good portion of the fan base by revamping the NYR offense and creating a speed team once again.

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cam fowler

Hot off the presses last night, Arthur Staple noted that both Chris Drury and Gordie Clark were in attendance at the Islanders/Ducks game last night. They certainly weren’t scouting the Islanders, and the Rangers and Ducks have been linked together as a possible match for some time. The Rangers need an upgrade on defense and have the cap space, while the Ducks need to dump a defenseman and some cap space.

Usually I write off scouts attending games, but Drury is the Assistant GM and Clark is the Director of Player Personnel. This isn’t just a scout doing his/her job. These are the big whigs who make decisions in attendance. It seems like something is brewing. But who they are targeting is where things get interesting.

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dylan mcilrath

Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers appear to be seeking a trade partner for defenseman Dylan McIlrath. McIlrath has been a bit of a polarizing player since his draft year, and by no fault of his own. The Rangers passed on Vladimir Tarasenko and Cam Fowler to pick McIlrath as their project pick. A brutal knee injury hurt McIlrath’s already weak skating, which lengthened his development time.

He’s never going to be the quickest guy, the one that can chase down the opposition from behind. But his skating is phenomenally improved since as recently as last year. He’s significantly more agile, moving from side to side with relative ease. He’s also found ways around his skating pitfalls with great positioning and stick work.

McIlrath and Adam Clendening appeared to be in a fight for the last spot, even if they didn’t need to be. McIlrath’s numbers are solid enough that he earned a spot on the bottom-pair. At the very least, McIlrath is an upgrade on some of the other defensemen on the roster. This is a puzzling move for a team that had a great offseason.

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Jacob Trouba

A report from Ian McLaren –citing Bob McKenzie, so this has legs– is stating that the Rangers are one of the many teams (duh) interested in Winnipeg Jets Jacob Trouba. I’d venture a guess that every team is somewhat interested in him, but the article calls out the Rangers, Avalanche, Bruins, and Coyotes as the teams “most interested” in the 22-year-old defenseman.

The Rangers certainly have the pieces to land Trouba, who requested a trade from the Jets this summer (news only broke last week). Per McKenzie, the ask is a LHD that is comparable to Trouba. Brady Skjei seems to be the piece everyone looks at, but he doesn’t have the pedigree, experience, or NHL success yet.

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Can the Rangers land Jacob Trouba?

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Photo: Shawn Coates/AP

The big news that broke this past weekend was that Winnipeg Jets’ stud defenseman Jacob Trouba has requested a trade. Trouba, the ninth overall pick in 2012, is in the middle of a contract dispute with the Jets. The dispute is over more than money though, as Trouba has stated that he is buried on the depth chart behind Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers, both right-handed defensemen signed to long-term deals.

The 22-year-old defenseman has put up impressive numbers in his first three seasons, with his career highs coming in his rookie year (10-19-29). That may not seem like much, but remember that Trouba gets third pairing and minimal powerplay time. That is not a product of who he is as a player, but a product of commitments by the organization elsewhere, whether right or wrong (we will get to that).

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Chris Drury named Rangers Assistant GM

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Photo: NYDN

Photo: NYDN

Chris Drury has been named Assistant GM of the Rangers. Drury was instrumental in the Rangers landing Jimmy Vesey, and McDonald also noted that this process has been in the works for some time now.

Drury has been with the Rangers organization in some fashion since being signed as a free agent in 2007. He played four seasons with the Rangers, and was very productive in his first two seasons. Knee injuries limited his playing time and productivity, and let to his buyout and eventual retirement.

Drury was named Director of Player Development in September of 2015.

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Photo Credit: Steven Ryan

Photo Credit: Steven Ryan

The Rangers landed Jimmy Vesey on Friday, which bolsters their forward depth at a bare minimum cost. Vesey isn’t a savior and likely isn’t even going to crack 40 points this season, but he certainly opens up some options for the Rangers. Vesey likely slides into a third line role with Kevin Hayes and possibly Pavel Buchnevich. That pushes Michael Grabner and Jesper Fast to permanent spots on the fourth line.

This, of course, is if no other moves are made. The blue line has gone suspiciously unaddressed this offseason, and a change there is needed. Moving Dan Girardi and/or Marc Staal likely isn’t happening, but there are still other ways to upgrade the blue line if Jeff Gorton goes that route. The forward position is a major strength for the Rangers. They have arguably ten forwards that could feasibly play a top-nine role on this team, plus another three that slot in well on the fourth line.

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Calming some of the Jimmy Vesey hype

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A lot has been made all over the internet about Jimmy Vesey’s free agency. Vesey became a free agent on Tuesday, and has met with several teams, including the Rangers. Celebrities were tweeting at Vesey to sign in New York. That’s how ridiculous this has become. It’s kind of humorous, but it may actually wind up shooting Vesey in the foot with ridiculous expectations.

Here’s the thing with Vesey: He’s not Gretzky. He’s not Crosby. He’s not Ovechkin. He’s likely a middle-six forward who at his peak could be a consistent 20-goal, 50-point player. That’s a solid NHL player, but not a top line, can’t miss guy.

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jimmy vesey

Photo: American Sports Net

Per the Boston Herald, the Rangers will likely be one of the finalists for soon-to-be free agent Jimmy Vesey. The former third round pick by the Predators is the most highly sought after NCAA free agent since Justin Schultz, and has made it clear he will be going to free agency. Vesey put up 24-22-46 in his senior year at Harvard, which was actually down from his 32-26-58 line his junior year.

Vesey would likely jump to the NHL right away on a team’s top-nine forwards at a bare minimum of cost. Vesey can only sign for a max $925,000 base salary with roughly $3.5 million in max bonuses. Since the Rangers don’t have many players that qualify for bonuses, it’s likely that all of Vesey’s bonuses would hit the bonus cushion with no impact on next year’s cap. This is unlike the situation in Chicago, where bonuses are becoming a problem as they spill over into future seasons.

For the Rangers, landing him would mean tremendous flexibility to deal a forward to address some of the blue line issues. I’m of the belief that most of the league is waiting for Vesey to make a decision before more moves are made. If the Rangers can land him, it may open up that long rumored Rick Nash trade for a defenseman. Vesey becomes a free agent on Monday.

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Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers

With the signing of Marek Hrivik, the Rangers have cleared up most of their to-dos for this summer. They locked up their restricted free agents. They got younger, cheaper, and faster with a big trade that also brought back a high draft pick. They retooled their bottom-six with quicker, more skilled, better defensive, and better penalty killing players. But the one major move that has been oddly absent is the big change to the blue line.

Many expected –hoped– that the big change on the blue line would come at the expense of Dan Girardi and Marc Staal. That was fueled by some draft day rumors that the Rangers were looking to move the pair. However that was shot down eventually by the public statement that Jeff Gorton expects Girardi to have a bounce back season. Considering the contracts, trading just one of them has always been a long shot. But perhaps the upgrade on the blue line will come from a relatively unexpected place – Kevin Klein.

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