Category: Musings

Musings: Traverse City is here – hockey is back.

A goaltender actually worth his salary: The King

A goaltender actually worth his salary: The King

Corey Crawford got $6m per year long term? I think it’s clear at this stage that Henrik Lundqvist is going to get a serious pay rise. Some goaltenders are products of great teams (Crawford, a good but not great goalie may be exhibit A here) and some are great goaltenders who make teams better – a la Lundqvist. Unless he signs a team friendly deal Lundqvist will easily walk away as an 8m player.

Traverse City I: My intrigue is squarely focussed on Danny Kristo and Oscar Lindberg. Really need to see these guys dominate at this level. They’ll need to if they think they stand a chance at getting immediate shots at the NHL level.

Traverse City II: It will also be very important to see guys such as Conor Allen and Tommy Hughes and how these guys cope with the step up in competition. The Rangers need to start bringing through the next wave of defensive prospects when you consider the potentially uncertain futures of Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Anton Stralman. Without being able to get their hands on college guys such as Brady Skjei it’s important that the Rangers can develop players themselves.

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Don’t panic if the Rangers struggle on their season-opening road trip

Nine straight road games to start the season are probably not the ideal way to start for Alain Vigneault

Two years ago the Rangers went on their first prolonged road trip to start the season as Madison Square Garden underwent renovations.  The Blueshirts played their first two games in Europe, which they lost in overtime to the Kings and in a shootout to the Ducks.  New York had a week off before falling to the Islanders – then the club flew to western Canada for games against Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and finally Winnipeg.

New York came out of the trip with a modest 3-2-2 record, but then dropped its first two games on home ice to Toronto and Ottawa.  Six losses in the first nine games was an ugly way to kick off the 2011-2012 campaign for a team with playoff aspirations, and many of the Blueshirt faithful were in full-fledged panic mode. Read more »

Sather: Lots of interest in Brian Boyle

(Image Credit: Newsday)

Rangers GM Glen Sather raised some eyebrows last week when he told Edmonton’s Team 1260 that he’s received lots of interest in center Brian Boyle, but is loath to deal the 28-year-old.

“I’ve had a lot of requests for Brian’s services,” Sather said. “I’m not anxious to trade him. I think he’s a good player, he’s a great team guy and I think he has still an upside to go to. He’s one of those guys you may regret trading if you do trade him so I’m not anxious to do anything with him at this time.” Read more »

Saturday Musings: will Nash net?

My name is Rick Nash. I am very good at hockey.

My name is Rick Nash. I am very good at hockey.

The quiet season is well and truly underway but that doesn’t mean the hockey world is standing still. Let’s have a look around the league and have an impromptu musings shall we?

The Capitals signed Mikhail Grabovski this week and it’s a good move. They needed to add some talent and he’s a solid center. It’s incredible to think the Leafs bought a player out less than 18 months after giving him a long term extension. With losing Mike Ribeiro the Caps were in danger of going backwards, Grabovski helps a lot for $3m.

I keep reading that the Rangers are in danger of losing Derek Stepan? Calm down folks. There is no urgency here. He has no negotiating power and it would take an over-the-top offer sheet for the Rangers not to match. The lack of a new deal is no indicator of the importance Stepan has, merely that it’s not a critical priority.

My first prediction for the new season: With one year as a Ranger under his belt, with a full camp, Rick Nash will top 40 goals. In a new system that should give him more offensive zone starts there’s no reason Nash shouldn’t reach that number again. If Nash is healthy and has support from his line mates he should reach that figure. He was close last year (on pace for 39). With Callahan and Hagelin missing to begin, he’ll be needed more than ever.

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Twitter-bag: Offseason moves, Stepan, McIlrath, and the kids

Be patient, McIlrath still needs some time (Photo: Blueshirts United)

Be patient, McIlrath still needs some time (Photo: Blueshirts United)

Even though it’s still August, a few questions have rolled in about some of the moves the Rangers made. Since news is slow and we are simply just waiting on Traverse City and the Derek Stepan deal, I figured I would answer them all in a post.

Q: What do you think of Slats’ offseason moves? It looks like he did a good job, but there are still some question-marks about this team and the powerplay that make me nervous.

This is a bit of a loaded question. I think Slats addressed the major needs in the offseason. He needed to fix the depth, specifically injury depth, and he did just that with the additions of Falk, Syvret, Moore, and Pouliot. The Rangers now have one of the deepest teams in the league, and it’s been a while since we’ve seen them this deep with this much skill. As for the powerplay, well only time will tell. The personnel will be the same, but hopefully a full season of Mats Zuccarello will help provide a spark.

The biggest thing about the powerplay was the lack of movement and the lack of an offensive presence from the point. Ulf Samuelsson, who was with Phoenix, was brought in to help the blue liners generate some offense. He worked with guys like Keith Yandle and OEL down in the desert, so his track record is pretty solid. AV ran a solid powerplay in Vancouver as well.

Q: When will Stepan sign? I’m getting nervous that some team is going to give him an offer sheet.

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Having fun with a theoretical expansion draft

When the new NHL realignment was announced, the first thing people noticed was the unbalanced nature of the Eastern and Western Conferences. The East had 16 teams, and the West had 14 teams. This led to two different mindsets: 1) The NHL was bound to go through realignment again if/when the Coyotes moved (they aren’t), and 2) The NHL is going to expand to 32 teams.

Without getting into the discussion of whether or not the NHL should expand (Suit laid out possible destinations in two separate posts), it’s still a realistic scenario that could come to fruition should the stars align for the NHL and possible markets. If this scenario occurs, then there will be an expansion draft. It’s a slow summer, so I figured it would be fun to go into a hypothetical “expansion draft at the end of next season” post.

Let’s assume that any future expansion draft will follow the same rules as the 2000 expansion draft. Each team is allowed to protect either one goalie, five defensemen, and nine forwards, or, two goalies, three defensemen, and seven forwards. At least one defenseman left unprotected must have played 40 games last season or 70 games in the last two seasons. Two forwards must meet the same requirements. All first and second year pros (including AHL players) and unsigned rookies are exempt (JT Miller is exempt, Chris Kreider is not). All players on ELCs that will slide (Troy Donnay) are exempt as well.

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Musings: Depth options, absurd spending, bottom six competition, and more

MORE FUN! MORE FUN! (Adam Hunger/Reuters)

MORE FUN! MORE FUN! (Adam Hunger/Reuters)

As we enter the dog-days of summer, there isn’t going to be much news coming up, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have random thoughts that have zero direction whatsoever. This is why we love Musings Day, because our brains work in odd ways.

How weird was it to have an entire free agency opening day pass and not have one major signing made by Slats? I think that’s the first time in a while that we haven’t had to add anything major. A limited budget helps, but some of those contracts were just absurd. Clarkson got how much? Clowe had two concussions and got what? Good God.

What the Rangers did do is address their depth issues, and they did it in a very quiet and shrewd manner. The organization needed to create top-six minutes for the glut of prospects hitting Hartford next season, and they opened up holes while filling in defensive depth. Benn Ferriero and Kris Newbury had no legitimate future with this team, and Justin Falk and Danny Syvret will prevent people like Roman Hamrlik from ever dressing on defense ever again.

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Musings on free agency eve

Has Glen made another canny move? (Gerry Kahrmann, The Province)

Has Glen made another canny move? (image credit: Gerry Kahrmann, The Province)

Welcome to the musings. It’s the day before free agency and on many occasions it has felt like Christmas Eve to Rangers fans – the day before the presents arrive. This year is likely to be different as the Rangers are set to be more cautious with the little money they have to spend. Or are they?

Scott Arniel seems like a logical choice as assistant coach. He has run his own bench before, has been in charge of multiple Rangers before and will help Alain Vigneault’s transition to New York because of his familiarity with the ex Blue Jackets. You have to assume Arniel is motivated to prove he’s worthy of another shot as a HC too.

Even if it wasn’t the ex-Ranger many hoped for, Ulf Samuelsson is a nice addition to the coaching staff. The Rangers need to be more physically imposing next year and if Samuelsson can get his style as a player across to the Rangers now he’s a coach it could be a smart move.

Scanning the scrap heap:

With the Rangers unlikely to be major buyers July 5th, there are several players who are  no longer wanted by their current teams and are either on waivers or due to be bought out. Amongst those on waivers in the last 24 hours are the following guys who could be of interest to the Rangers in some capacity.

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Draftday looming: the draft musings

Is Ryane Clowe less likely to re-up with the Rangers because of AV?

Is Ryane Clowe less likely to re-up with the Rangers because of AV?

As we approach the draft weekend and the Stanley Cup playoffs are over, the Rangers get ready to enter the offseason with a new leader at the helm. We’ve beaten the Alain Vigneault-analysis angle to death so let’s just jump into another musings instead.

Artem Anisimov has turned his move from the Rangers into an almost $10m, 3 year contract. Good for him but it’s another example of a struggling franchise overpaying to keep players happy. Based on production, Anisimov is not worth 3.25m per year. That said, maybe he earns it during the deal.

If Kris Letang goes to the Leafs it would be a huge mistake by the Penguins. Yes, his demands may be out of whack but that club needs balance and he’s arguably the best offensive defenseman in the league after Karlsson.

People shouldn’t assume Ryane Clowe will be back with the Rangers because he’s been medically cleared. He has had ‘history’ with the Canucks, had an almost public feud with the club up North. Remember who last coached the Canucks?….

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Will Maxim Lapierre follow Vigneault?

(Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

(Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

When a new head coach arrives at a club it’s not just coaching staffs that tend to follow. Players who have built relationships often do the same, and with Maxim Lapierre approaching free agency, the opportunity to join the Rangers seems a logical one for all concerned.

Lapierre is a hard working hockey player that adds depth to the bottom six and is exactly the type of hockey player that the Rangers need when you look at how they were eliminated by the Bruins. He adds size, grit and a solid work ethic. All these traits would help address multiple needs on the Rangers, and this is without considering the relationship he has developed with Alain Vigneault in Vancouver.

Vigneault will surely want a few of his own in New York and the opportunity to grab a player with a solid playoff background such as Lapierre’s, without giving up anything but free agent dollars, seems an ideal situation. At 28, Lapierre is not an aging veteran and, after a relatively modest regular season and a quick exit in the playoffs, it’s not likely he could command big money on the free agent market – no matter how thin it appears this summer.

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