Despite all the recent trade rumors swirling around Michael Del Zotto, the young D-man may remain a Ranger beyond this year.
I’ll spare you the argument that Del Zotto is still very young for a defenseman at just 23 years old, because frankly I don’t buy that as an excuse for his erratic play any more either. But though Del Zotto hasn’t lived up to expectations, he is still pencilled in as a top-four defenseman in New York’s short- and long-term plans.
That matters because another key member of the top-four, Dan Girardi, is set to be an unrestricted free agent in July. And the way things are going, Girardi might not be back. Girardi has been better than Del Zotto this season, but not by much. He’s coming off a down year under John Tortorella, so Girardi’s struggles can’t be blamed solely on the coaching change. No, at 29 years old, it’s likely that we’ve already seen the best of Girardi, and quite possible that he’s begun his decline. Read more »
Per Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated, the Rangers may have interested in Dallas Stars center Vernon Fiddler.
Now we need to take this with a grain of salt, because despite the fact this is in SI, Muir gets some basic facts wrong. Yes, Connor Allen and Dylan McIlrath are intriguing prospects, but neither are ready to play a role on a team built to win a Cup. Also, he mentions Michael Del Zotto as a trade piece, but misses the ball on his contract status (Muir states MDZ is a pending UFA, when he’s a pending RFA). I completely misread the article. My bad.
But looking at Fiddler himself: a left handed center with 2-3-5 in 21 games, 45% CF%, 28.2% TotTm%QoC, and 39.9% O/D% Zone Starts (eliminates neutral zone starts from the equation), he’s not what the Rangers really need. He’s never cracked 32 points in a season.
The Rangers need a RHD and a right handed forward. I’ll file this under irresponsible rumormongering.
Del Zotto has fallen on hard times in New York
For anyone that watches NHL Tonight, this week you’ll have seen Darren Dreger discuss the Rangers apparently having had contact with ‘five or six teams’ interested in acquiring Michael Del Zotto. The moment Del Zotto’s regression offensively caught up with Alain Vigneault’s lack of trust in his defensive game, this kind of rumour always surfaces. For those of you not in the know regarding Dreger, he’s not the kind of guy who recklessly gossips so there are legs to this story.
The Rangers should definitely explore trading Del Zotto. The Rangers need help offensively and/or they need more physicality on the blue line. Trading Del Zotto could help the Rangers tend to one of their needs as despite Del Zotto not having a good season so far, his previous offensive production, his relative youth, his affordable contract situation and his draft pedigree all combine to make him a very moveable asset.
Whether the Rangers decide to move Del Zotto will likely depend on the return, but if they are to move Del Zotto the time is now. The modern day NHL requires asset management and right now Del Zotto is a declining asset. With his recent trips to the press box and with just four points on the season, Del Zotto appears to be regressing. His importance to the Rangers has also diminished as John Moore slowly but steadily develops. Include Ryan McDonagh’s offensive progression, and he could become a Norris-worthy defensman. In short, Del Zotto’s time in New York could be running out.
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Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Per Elliotte Friedman, the Rangers are showing interest in OHL defenseman Colin Suellentrop. The 6’1, 190-lb. right-handed defenseman was drafted by the Flyers in 2011, but was not signed by the June, 2013 deadline, making him a free agent. Suellentrop also went unsigned this past summer.
Friedman notes that Suellentrop may be a classic late bloomer, as his skating was a cause for concern. It’s actually why the Flyers (and the other 29 NHL teams) passed on signing the former fourth rounder this past summer. Positioning was also a concern.
The guys at In Lou We Trust have a great bio on him, although it is very old. He was a defensive defenseman on a bad Oshawa Generals team when he was drafted, which made his numbers especially atrocious. The Flyers website also has a profile on him (it’s a bit homer-ific), noting that they liked his size, physical play, and his ability to make a smart first pass.
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Don’t expect Nail Yakupov to arrive on Broadway
As often happens in the Twitterverse and blogosphere, a pretty harmless tweet set off a frenzy among Rangers fans over the last 36 hours.
A few writers noted that Edmonton president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, GM Craig MacTavish and special adviser Mark Messier(!) were in attendance for New York’s 2-1 loss to the Ducks on Monday night. Rangers fans immediately began to wonder which Oilers might interest the Rangers. Larry Brooks fed the embers gasoline with a column debating if trading for Nail Yakupov or Ales Hemsky would appeal to Rangers GM Glen Sather. Stemming off Brooks’ post, the Edmonton Journal ran a series of articles about the possibility of a Yakupov to New York blockbuster and discussed possible packages that might interest the Oilers including the likes of Chris Kreider and Michael Del Zotto. And the rumormongers took it from there.
Sure, it’s probably pretty likely that Sather and other members of the Rangers brass have talked about how great it would be to have a young goal-scoring talent like Yakupov, especially with New York’s offense struggling. Sather may have even mentioned that to the Oilers contingent in attendance. But a deal is almost certainly not going to happen.
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AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
Over the past couple of weeks, there have been rumblings that the Rangers have been one of the more active teams seeking to make a move. More rumors circulated (from less reliable sources than Elliotte Friedman, linked in the previous sentence) that the Rangers were looking to make a big splash to address scoring woes. Now, there is a difference between seeking to make a move and making a splash, and Friedman is one of the more reliable guys out there.
With all the injuries –specifically to Rick Nash– that the Rangers have endured, a move does seem like it is coming. Scoring has been an issue, but that’s expected when the best player (Nash), captain, and best puck possession forward (Carl Hagelin) are all injured. Shooting luck hasn’t exactly been on their side either. The problem has been somewhat mitigated by the re-emergence of Chris Kreider and the steady play of J.T. Miller.
That said, this is still a team that has allowed two goals in each of the past four games, and won just two of them. We’ve identified one need for this team already. But how realistic is it to make a splash?
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Per Bob McKenzie, the biggest obstacle for the Rangers and locking up franchise goalie Henrik Lundqvist won’t be dollars, but it years:
Bob McKenzie: And that’s also the thorny issue there could be withHenrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers. When Henrik Lundqvist‘s current deal expires and he’s on an extension, he’ll be 33-years-old on the first year of that extension. Do you want to give a 33-year-old goaltender, as good as Henrik Lundqvist is and as much as he means to the New York Rangers, a long-term deal or do you want it shorter?
The emphasis here is on the word could in the first sentence. McKenzie is absolutely right, the only real sticking point will be term, not dollars. Hank is going to get more than the $7 million given to Tuukka Rask and Pekka Rinne, that’s a given. If New York gives him eight years, that puts him through to his age-41 season. Hank has shown no signs of slowing down, but goaltenders do tend to break down in their mid-to-late-thirties.
Again, emphasis is on the word could. It could be a problem, it might night not be a problem.
Per Darren Dreger, grain of salt required, the Rangers and holdout center Derek Stepan are just $500k per year (over a two-year bridge deal) apart on contract negotiations. New York is taking a hardball approach, sticking to $3 million per year over the two-year deal. Stepan wants $3.5 million. I believe $3.5 million is closer to market value, since Nazem Kadri and his one full year of NHL experience landed $2.9 million. That said, the Rangers are near the cap, and while they likely won’t exceed the $64.3 million cap, every little bit of room helps at the deadline.
Again, this should be taken with a grain of salt. Reports of dollar amounts demanded/offered are usually off.
Marc has never said a word about joining his brothers in Carolina
Ever since Jordan Staal turned down a 10-year, $60 million contract extension from Pittsburgh last June, leading to a blockbuster draft day trade to the Hurricanes, Rangers fans have been panicked about Marc Staal’s desire to join his three brothers in Carolina.
Marc himself has never given us any reason to believe he’s anything but thrilled to be playing in New York, but it’s of course not a giant leap to think the four Staal brothers have discussed playing together.
With Marc set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2015, many nervous Rangers fans have suggested that GM Glen Sather phone Carolina GM Jim Rutherford and see what he can get for Marc now, well in advance of the end of Marc’s contract, before his trade value depreciates.
There are a couple of problems with this:
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Happy Draft Day. The Rangers have five picks this year: three in the third round , a fourth rounder, and a sixth rounder. Gordie Clark discussed what the Rangers will be looking to draft on the Rangers website, and noted that the Rangers are likely to make picks to fill an organizational need, as opposed to taking the best player available. Clark elaborated a bit further and said that they are likely to focus on defense, since outside of Dylan McIlrath, Brady Skjei, and Calle Andersson, they are thin there.
In the rumor department, a lot of names are rumored to be in play. Tyler Seguin was reportedly available, as are Brayden Coburn, Corey Schneider, Cal Clutterbuck, Alex Edler, and Michael Del Zotto. Names like Nathan Horton, David Clarkson, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard are expected to hit free agency.
Kevin will have you covered for the draft itself, which begins at 3pm. Be sure to catch up on our draft coverage for all your draft needs.