Archive for Irresponsible Rumormongering
Per Larry Brooks, Glen Sather is considering stepping down as General Manager of the New York Rangers. Slats has been GM since the 2000 season, and has been apparently grooming Assistant GM Jeff Gorton to replace him (which is why Slats denied teams the ability to interview Gorton this season).
Slats’ pre-salary cap run was mired with unsuccessful big-money signings and trades, aimed at buying a Stanley Cup. With the salary cap in place, Slats has seen the Rangers make the playoffs nine of the last ten years, with two runs to the Eastern Conference Final and one to the Stanley Cup Final in the past four years.
This does not mean that Slats is stepping down. In the article, Slats clearly states he is undecided about his future.
I love the offseason. It’s a chance to go through available players and play armchair-GM to make your favorite team a Cup contender next season. But with the offseason comes a season of lunacy. People thinking Tanner Glass will fetch this team a 3rd round pick. Or that Cam Talbot will fetch the #1 overall pick.
In the salary cap era, not many teams are able to throw big money at free agents at will. But yet, that doesn’t stop the media from throwing the Rangers out there as a possible destination for every single free agent. This usually starts with one member of the media speculating, with absolutely no basis, and then every other outlet picking it up.
This year, it appears that Rick Nash is the target of the trade rumors. It all started with Larry Brooks’ column five days ago, a seemingly innocuous post about how the Rangers will look to trade Nash to free up cap space. He even has a possible trade scenario: Nash to St. Louis for T.J. Oshie, Alex Steen, and Jaden Schwartz.
Per Elliotte Friedman, the Rangers are one of at least five teams NCAA free agent defenseman Mike Reilly will meet with today. Other teams Reilly will be meeting with are Chicago, Minnesota, LA, and possibly Pittsburgh.
Reilly, originally a 4th round pick in 2011 by Columbus, elected not to sign with the Blue Jackets, likely due to their crowded blue line. It’s believed that Minnesota has the inside track because of Reilly’s connections to the team (his dad is a minority investor with the group that owns the Wild), but the Rangers have Brady Skjei, Reilly’s teammate throughout college.
Reilly put up big numbers with Minnesota the last two years, with 15 goals and 75 points in 80 games over the last two years. He’s being described as a potential top-four defenseman with a big shot from the point, something the Rangers sorely need.
I find it to be amazing that the Rangers are even on his interview list. They have three guys signed long term (Staal, Girardi, McDonagh). They have a big prospect on the way (Skjei). They have Yandle and Boyle for at least this year. They also have Klein. The blue line is just as crowded as Columbus’. Perhaps Slats will be working magic to convince him to sign. After all, few thought Kevin Hayes would land in New York.
Per Larry Brooks, the New York Rangers are one of the many teams interested in Boston University goaltender Matt O’Connor. O’Connor attended Rangers prospect camp this past summer, and the Rangers may be interested as a potential Cam Talbot replacement after next season. Talbot is signed for next year at $1.45 million, and while he has been a strong backup, that is a lot of cap space to commit to a backup.
Should the Rangers lose Talbot to free agency or via trade, they will have an opening at backup while MacKenzie Skapski develops. As Henrik Lundqvist gets older, having insurance in net is always a good thing.
In the “oh FFS please don’t do this” department, Bob McKenzie has reported that the Rangers are very interested in Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak. Before I go into why this is makes absolutely zero logical sense, let’s look at Bozak the player, independent of his fit in New York. And let me tell you, it’s not pretty.
Everyone is going to look at his close-to-50-points-but-never-got-to-50-points lines from the last three seasons and think this guy is a steal at that price. Here’s the major problem: He doesn’t produce outside of Phil Kessel. Period. End of story. Don’t believe me? Check this out:
Just a reminder that CF/CA is now SATF/SATA.
As the trade deadline draws nearer, the rumors are abound about who the New York Rangers will target to improve the team for a playoff run. There are a bunch of them, so here we go.
- Larry Brooks says that the Rangers might target Mark Letestu of Columbus, Torrey Mitchell of Buffalo, or Curtis Glencross of Calgary.
- As for Glencross, who requested a trade from Calgary in the midst of a potential playoff push, he has a limited no-trade clause and the Rangers would need to be on that list of teams in which he will accept a trade.
- Steve Zipay notes that the Rangers may also target James Sheppard of San Jose, Kyle Brodziak of Minnesota, Daniel Winnik of Toronto, Erik Condra of Ottawa, Jan Hejda of Colorado, or Brett Bellmore of Carolina.
- Zipay also notes that the Rangers will not part ways with their top three prospects: Anthony Duclair, Pavel Buchnevich, or Brady Skjei. Zip says Danny Kristo and others in the AHL are available for the right return. It’s worth noting that Kristo is a UFA after this year, and has minimal value.
- Non trade related news: Jesper Fast skated in practice today, which is always a good sign. He was in a non-contact jersey.
*due to the large percentage of the BSB staff who were physically at the Canucks game, Dave’s goal breakdown will be posted this afternoon.
The entirety of the Rangers’ community held their collective breath during the announcement that franchise goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was experiencing continued symptoms from his fluke neck injury. It was a strange coalescence of events that ended in a vascular injury and an uncertain timetable for his return. In his stead, it was a no-brainer to turn to Cam Talbot. What was somewhat surprising was that 20-year old MacKenzie Skapski got the nod to play second string for the big club.
That’s not a knock on Skapski, mind you, who has been playing very solid hockey in his first pro-season in the AHL. After eight games without Lundqvist, Skapski is still yet to start a game (however rumored to be starting tonight in Buffalo). Since Lundqvist’s injury is relatively rare in hockey, his timetable and confidence is his overall health going forward somewhat suspect. All of this begs the question of whether the Rangers would be wise to bring in some additional goaltending depth prior to the deadline. With this in mind, I thought I’d break down some low-cost candidates who could be waived if need be in the event Hank comes back strong and ready to go for the stretch run.
MacKenzie Skapski, New York Rangers:
Let’s start with the obvious. The Rangers could simply give Skapski a try and see if he can handle the speed of the NHL game. I admittedly haven’t seen much of him, but the little I have watched shows a quick, athletic tender, with a tendency to get too busy in his movements and can overplay his positioning. Beniot Allaire is a master at quieting a goaltender’s motions (see Talbot, Cam), so I think this possibility is worth a shot. Better than Skapski riding the bench until Hank returns.
Yann Danis, Hartford Wolfpack:
Alternatively, the Rangers could swap Skapski for career journeyman Yann Danis. The 33-year old Quebec native has seen NHL action for the Habs, Islanders, Devils and Oilers over the course of his career, posting decent numbers in small samples. Something tells me he would make it through waivers on his way back down, and I would much rather see him decorating the bench at MSG and letting Skapski play in Hartford in the Rangers don’t see playing time in MacKenzie’s short-term future.
Anders Lindback, Buffalo Sabres: (1 year/$925k, pending UFA)
Just a couple years back I was a big fan of Lindback. He was a big goalie who had played well in limited time behind Pekka Rinne and looked to break out as a starter with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Instead, Lindback tanked and another massive goalie in Ben Bishop stole the crease in Florida. His large frame has gotten away from him and his mechanics have gotten all out of whack. He is as dispensable as it gets, though, turning UFA after the season.
Scott Clemmensen, Albany Devils: (1 year/$600k, pending UFA)
We’ve all seen plenty of Clemmensen over the years, both with New Jersey and Florida. He is about as vanilla as a backup goalie gets, but we can be confident in his competency for a few games at a time. The bigger question is whether Sather and Lou could get together for a trade even of this microscopic magnitude.
Reto Berra, Colorado Avalanche: (2 years/$2.9m remaining)
Two years and almost $3 million left on his deal. Pass.
Mike McKenna, Arizona Coyotes: (1 year/$550k, pending UFA)
Another career journeyman and pending UFA. McKenna has bounced around with the Lightning, Devils and Blue Jackets before landing in the desert. For what it’s worth, he has better AHL numbers than Danis does, but that’s hardly a conclusive argument for going out and getting him. Plus, it’s not like the ‘Yotes have goalie depth to spare at this point. McKenna is not likely worth the hassle for an incremental upgrade on what the Rangers already have.
Richard Bachman/Viktor Fasth, Edmonton Oilers (1 year/$615k, pending UFA/1 year/$3.4m cap hit remaining)
Bachman is another McKenna-type. Pending UFA on a small deal, but since they are overflowing with mediocre goaltenders in Edmonton, maybe this makes a little more sense. Fasth on the other hand has another year on his deal at a $3.4m cap hit. Yuck.
Jason LaBarbera, Norfolk Admirals (1 year/$750k, pending UFA)
When I first looked up old friend Jason LaBarbera, I was almost positive he was a free agent. Apparently the Ducks snuck him down to Norfolk, where he has very solid numbers in twenty games. Might be worth a flier, but not much of a huge upgrade to be had here. If he was a UFA, I’d say grab him and let him play a few games to rest Talbot, but he’s not exactly an ideal trade target.
As you can see, the pickings are slim. I don’t suppose you can really seek a meaningful upgrade when Lundqvist will hopefully be back in the next couple weeks, but depth is never a bad thing. Personally, I would soldier on with out internal options, whether that is Danis or Skapski. If I had to go outside the organization, I think Clemmensen is your best bet, but good luck with that. Moral of the story: get well soon, Hank.
Per Darren Dreger, cited on NBCSN, New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello is going to look for more than $5 million per year on a five-year deal for his contract extension. Zucc is the next Ranger in line for Glen Sather to lock up, having locked up Marc Staal earlier this year. Zuccarello is a must-keep for the Rangers, as he is one of their best even strength producing forwards. Zucc’s production on the powerplay is down this year, but that’s mostly because PP2 has been a tire fire. The recent move to PP1 should help him produce more.
It’s important to note two things. First, Dreger isn’t reporting anything, he’s speculating. Second, Dreger is speculating Zucc’s opening offer. These are negotiations, and the opening offer is always higher than what the player will take. Brad Marchand is probably the best comparable for Zucc, since the production and roles are almost identical. Marchand signed his four-year deal at $4.5 million before last season, when the cap was lower ($64.3 million).
As the NHL trade deadline approaches and Glen Sather adjusts his moving-target-deadline-strategy, the conversation is likely to shift from which roster players can be dealt to which kids can be dealt. As the push for a Stanley Cup in the Henrik Lundqvist era continues (and, frankly as the window closes), the Rangers are going to push and go for it all, meaning they aren’t likely to deal established roster players for immediate help.
This turns the conversation to the farm system, and identifying which prospects may be blocked from making the roster, or may not even be in the long term plans of the organization. This includes kids that have developed nicely, kids that are former first round picks, or kids that seem to have flamed out.
Per Darren Dreger, the New York Rangers and winger Mats Zuccarello are involved in contract talks to keep the winger with the Rangers long-term. This is great news, as Zucc is one of those guys that you need to keep around (Chris disagrees). Dreger noted that the Rangers love Zucc, and want him here. They also won’t be trading him at the deadline if they can’t reach a deal by the March 2 trade deadline.
Take this news with a grain of salt, as the Rangers can always rethink trading him if there’s a good offer and the two sides are too far apart. But this is good news, as Zucc is a must keep. This also answers part of the Zucc, Carl Hagelin, or Martin St. Louis question.