Archive for Musings
Happy Friday, BSB community! Can you believe it is August already? It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve had the time to write, as the summer is the busiest time of year for me at the office. I suppose I haven’t missed much, though, as most of the Rangers’ business was taken care of in early July. We are now only a few weeks away from the return of the World Cup and training camp/pre-season is just around the corner.
There are still a few features I plan to write before the season (Top 30 Goalies!), but for this morning, I wanted to share some thoughts now that I have had some time to digest the summer moves.
Another week of the postseason has passed us by and it’s time to Muse once again. While the Rangers remained somewhat active, a lot of league wide signings have generated a lot of discussion.
Arb Season signings
It’s still the arbitration season and lots of teams are getting their houses in order. We’ll wrap up some of the bigger signings below but one worth talking about is Calle Jarnkrok of the Predators. David Poile managed to get Jarnkrok to agree to a 6 year deal for 12m total. For a young man trending upwards coming off a 16 goal, 30 point campaign that’s an awful contract to sign. There is a very good chance he will be awfully underpaid in one or two years time. Poile once again has shown he’s among the very best GM’s league wide.
Noteworthy signings around the league include Brayden Schenn’s new pact with the Flyers. A hot streak got Schenn 20m over four years. If he carries his season ending tear into next season it’s a bargain.
The Rangers signed their last two remaining RFAs yesterday inking Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes to contract extensions. Kreider received a long term deal (four years), while Hayes received the standard bridge deal, coming off his ELC. Both deals come with great cap hits for a team that is supposed to be cap strapped heading into the next few years. But here’s the thing: With this much cap space available, and everyone signed, why wouldn’t the Rangers look to at least lock up Miller to longer term? There are too many signs that something else is brewing.
1 – The Rangers have about $3 million in cap space –let’s call it that, as Brady Skjei and Pavel Buchnevich need to be added and Adam Clendening removed and assuming Tanner Glass is still here– which is very odd for this team. If no more moves are planned, I would have liked to see Hayes and J.T. Miller get longer term deals. I have no idea if they only wanted their short term deals though, with the chance to earn more. But this was a real opportunity to keep future costs down as well. Which brings me to point 2.
For the low season there is a fair bit of news floating around and quite a bit involving the Rangers. It’s been a while since I mused, so let’s take a look at Rangers goings on and also some of the news from around the league.
Brad Richards announces retirement
News broke Wednesday night that Brad Richards announced his retirement via an NHLPA announcement. If you forget about the awful contract the Rangers gave him, Richards had a great NHL career (15 years, 932 points in the regular season) and was an absolutely solid Ranger. 151 points in 210 regular season games was no bad achievement in a league with ever dwindling offense.
Richards was a solid playoff performer for the Rangers, at least in his first year when he was close to a point per game and the Rangers had such a magical run. Again, the Rangers didn’t see the best of Richards but he was solid – including two seasons with at least 19 points on the powerplay. Richards can be proud of a fantastic, Cup winning career.
– I’m a little stunned by some of the quality free agents still floating out there. Guys like Brandon Pirri and Justin Fontaine should be appealing to the many front offices that have hired #fancystats analysts and developed more progressive player evaluation models. A few of those players will still find homes before the season starts, but a good number will likely end up with PTOs at training camp. Remember, Lee Stempniak signed a PTO with the Devils before last season and ended up having a huge year. There’s potential for the same thing to happen with a couple of guys this season and the Rangers should be eyeing them closely.
– Overall the Rangers have made some pretty strong moves this offseason. Nick Holden should be a nice upgrade to the third pair; Nathan Gerbe, Josh Jooris and Michael Grabner bring speed, depth and penalty killing prowess; Adam Clendening and Michael Paliotta are two post-hype prospects that still have some real potential on defense; and the draft class was loaded with value picks that fit the direction of the franchise. Failing to re-sign Viktor Stalberg is the one head-scratching departure, but it’s hardly worth losing sleep over.
Becky’s post the other day had me thinking. The dog days of summer certainly are here, with little of note occurring in Rangerstown these days my attentions turned to other things. Watching both the Euro and Copa América tournaments, keeping up with baseball, trying my best to read and exercise, etc has all occupied my time since the end of the playoffs. Unlike my fellow blogger and podcasting companion however, I’m really feeling the lack of hockey pulling at me, and that’s got me thinking about this upcoming season and how I can best prepare myself for it. Let me explain what I mean.
Eighty-two games of hockey is a long season, which to me is both a good and bad thing. It’s a good thing because it means games are frequent, adding structure and motive to otherwise boring days and weeks. Hockey gives me something to look forward to at the end of the day on any given day, the narrative fluidity of different points in the season string together in a way that makes time pass gently and without friction, and in general it just gives me something to do, something to think about, and something to spend every waking hour obsessing over. I also go to a good amount of games (my dad’s a season ticket holder), so the routine and familiarity of Rangers hockey brings a certain comfort and excitement to my life – hockey, beyond but also including the physical confines of the Garden, feels like home to me.
The ridiculousness of free agency is now a week behind us, and a whole lot has happened. Not much with the Rangers, mind you, but that is more or less a good thing. The Blueshirts brought in Michael Grabner, Nathan Gerbe, Nick Holden and a couple AHL signees. Most of the heavy lifting appears to be done, and as you can imagine, I have some thoughts…
- I can’t help but wonder if Jeff Gorton was aiming for some sort of actual return for Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. I am painfully aware that the number of cap floor, analytically-averse teams are dwindling rapidly and that there simply may have been no interested parties. This could explain why no one has signed Kris Russell yet. Point is, I hope Gorton would have jumped on the opportunity just to shed the salary and not hoped for an actual return.
– In his post-draft press conference, GM Jeff Gorton was asked about his team’s plans for the summer and acknowledged “you can probably look at our roster and pick that apart and figure out what we need to do.” Gorton’s subsequent actions were to add Michael Grabner and Nathan Gerbe, which suggests Gorton viewed the penalty kill as the club’s primary weakness. Yes, Nick Holden might be a decent third-pair depth defenseman, but by no means is bringing him aboard the wholesale defensive makeover the Blueshirts so desperately needed. And what’s most puzzling is that of all the clued in media, Pat Leonard is the only one that has reported Gorton made any effort whatsoever to deal Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. There’s still a chance that Gorton buys out Girardi later in the summer or somehow swings a blockbuster trade, but it seems pretty likely that the Rangers will enter next season with a roster far too similar to the one that disappointed this past spring. By subtracting Keith Yandle, Viktor Stalberg and Dominic Moore and adding spare parts Holden, Grabner and Gerbe, there’s not much of a case to be made that the club is improved.
This weekend the 2016 NHL Draft came and went, and while we don’t have much clearer of a picture regarding Rangers GM Jeff Gorton’s plans what we do know is that it’s going to be a wild ride. Still, Gorton’s track record with the Bruins and the comments he’s made so far can give fans some hope that this team is going to turn it around after a less than optimal campaign this past season.
Although the Rangers didn’t pick until the third round they made a prudent decision in taking OHL defenseman Sean Day. At 6 foot 2 and 228 pounds, Day brings size to the table, but more importantly he brings elite skating ability, with Rangers Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark comparing Day’s movement to that of Paul Coffey’s. Day fell to the third round due to questions about his attitude and whether or not he could put all of his skills together, but has undeniable talent that could seriously pay off for the Rangers should he pan out. The pick certainly has risk attached to it, but the fact that the Rangers took a chance on the high-ceiling Day demonstrates that the Rangers know they need elite skating ability back on the blue line.
The draft is a great time to assess the needs of a team, to see where the front office is focusing and to guess how the team will utilize what they have and leverage their way to higher picks. It’s also a really great time to play make believe.
On Thursday, I posed a fun question to Rangers twitter: who is your dream Ranger? The one factor I threw out there is that it has to be a current player. Otherwise, we’re in total fantasy land: no cap hit, no trade issues, no restrictions. Your responses were pretty fantastic.