Archive for Offseason


Replacing Derek Stepan

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joe thornton

Probably not coming to New York.

In case you missed it, and if you did, I’d like to know how you managed to isolate yourself from the world for this long, the Rangers traded Derek Stepan with Antti Raanta to Arizona for the 7th overall pick (Lias Andersson) and defense prospect Anthony DeAngelo. The Rangers freed up around $6.8 million in the trade and acquired a potential stud RHD, but opened up a huge hole in their top-two centers.

The prevailing logic is that Mika Zibanejad will be able to take Stepan’s minutes, and it’s a reasonable expectation. Zibanejad certainly has the skill, but Stepan handled some very difficult minutes against top competition. Zibanejad wasn’t exactly given cupcake minutes, but they weren’t at the level of Stepan. Regardless, penciling Zibanejad in as the 1C is a solid bet, and there’s good reason to believe he can handle it.

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mackenzie skapski

Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

The Rangers have submitted qualifying offers to forwards Mika ZIbanejad, Jesper Fast, and Nicklas Jensen. They were the only three RFAs to receive qualifying offers. As expected, Brandon Pirri, Adam Clendening, and Marek Hrivik did not receive qualifying offers.

The surprise is that Mackenzie Skapski also did not receive a qualifying offer. Skapski dominated Buffalo in a pair of games in the 2014-2015 season, but never recovered from offseason dual hip surgery. He struggled mightily this year, and with the goalie pipeline strong, retaining Skapski wasn’t on the radar.

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Time to Panic? Not Quite

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anthony deangelo

Let’s all take a deep breath. It’s been a big day for the New York Rangers, who traded away a core member of the team in Derek Stepan and their backup goalie Antti Raanta (who could very well be starter material – you can check out my piece on him over at NHLNumbers here) in exchange for Anthony DeAngelo and the 7th overall pick. With that pick they selected Lias Andersson, and later at 21 they took Filip Chytil, both of whom are could play either LW or center according to their profiles at Elite Prospects. There’s still a lot left to this offseason, so it’s not quite time for panic, but there’s a reasonable case to be made that there’s cause for concern.

Let’s start by stating the obvious – the Rangers are a win-now team, because Henrik Lundqvist isn’t getting any younger. Given yesterday’s events, and the loss of Oscar Lindberg to the Vegas Golden Knights, the roster still needs some filling out. As it stands right now, we’re down two centers from where we were at the beginning of this season, when our depth down the middle was one of our obvious strengths. Our defensive group is still a work in progress, and it remains to be seen whether or not we’ll end up signing the coveted Kevin Shattenkirk in free agency. The opening night roster is not quite ready yet.

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Trading Antti Raanta

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New York Post

After months of speculation, debate and general hand-wringing, we now know that it was Oscar Lindberg who ended up being poached off the Rangers’ roster by the Vegas Golden Knights.  Various options had been “sure things” since the off-season began.  Michael Grabner, Jesper Fast and of course Antti Raanta have been speculated to be joining a newest team in the desert.

It’s Raanta I want to discuss this morning.  The 28-year old Finn had a tremendous year as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup and many feel that he is an interesting trade chip, given the low cost options on the market and Benoit Allaire’s seeming ability to turn your average midtown commuter into a quality NHL backup.  Let’s dive a little deeper into market and trade comparables and see if Raanta is worth moving.

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Rangers release 2017-2018 schedule

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No trades to announce just yet. Heck, not even a rumor to announce yet. But the Rangers announced the 2017-2017 schedule, you can view the full schedule here. The schedule is tough, but mostly because the Metro is going to be another blood bath this year.

The games may be tough, but I only counted 11 back-to-backs. That’s not overly terrible, considering how many we saw over the past few condensed seasons. Not many storylines in the games yet, aside from Vegas on 10/31. That should change when Dan Girardi signs somewhere.

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Rangers will not re-sign Marek Hrivik

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marek hrivik

Photo: Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty

The Rangers will not re-sign winger Marek Hrivik, per Larry Brooks. Hrivik has been with the Rangers organization for the past five seasons, appearing in 21 games with the big club (three assists). A bottom-six forward, it was clear that Hrivik was not going to get a legitimate shot with the Rangers.

Hrivik looked good during his stints this year with the Rangers, but it’s painfully obvious that he was getting buried on the depth chart. Kids like Adam Tambellini, Steven Fogarty, and Boo Nieves have supplanted him in Hartford, with undrafted UFAs filling out the roster as well. Hopefully he catches on somewhere.

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mats zuccarello derek stepan ryan mcdonagh

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

In case you missed it, and it’s tough to really figure out how you missed it at this point, the Rangers lost Oscar Lindberg to Vegas in the expansion draft. When you take a look at it, Lindberg was the only real choice for Vegas. The other talked about options were either hurt (Jesper Fast), old and unlikely to repeat their great season (Michael Grabner), or just way overhyped (Antti Raanta). But believe it or not, Lindberg isn’t all that difficult to replace.

That doesn’t mean Lindberg is a bad player. He’s a great 4C and probably a solid 3C who plays a good two-way game and kills penalties. However on the Rangers, he’s a fourth line center behind Derek Stepan, Mika Zibanejad, and Kevin Hayes. And don’t let the crab people fool you, Lindberg is in no way, shape, or form better than any of those three players. But with the relative predictability of the Vegas selection, the Rangers have likely accounted for losing Lindberg.

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Report: Oscar Lindberg headed to Vegas

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Photo Credit: Steven Ryan

Per Larry Brooks, center Oscar Lindberg is headed to Vegas via the expansion draft. This was relatively expected, especially after the news broke that Antti Raanta would remain a Ranger. I’ve been thinking it would be Lindberg since about March, writing about it as recently as this week.

Losing Lindberg certainly stinks, but it’s definitely not the worst thing that could have happened. Lindberg is 26 years old, so he’s not exactly a kid/prospect. He likely peaks as a decent 3C that can fake it as a 2C in short bursts. He is 100% not the top-six center that folks made him out to be. And he is 400% not better than Derek Stepan.

Guys like Lindberg, believe it or not, are easily replaced via free agency or within the system. Personally, I’m happy it wasn’t Jesper Fast, who is more versatile. But in the end, the Rangers will lose a good 4C that wins face offs and kills penalties.

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Jason Demers carries an affordable $4.5 million cap hit for the next four years

Recent developments including the buyout of Dan Girardi, pending retirement of Kevin Klein and $2 million cap ceiling increase have dramatically shifted the offseason picture for the Blueshirts. What appeared to be a team in a relative bind a week ago is now one armed with the cash necessary to make seismic changes this offseason.

Assuming Klein does indeed hang up his skates, the Rangers should have upwards of $16 million available – and that’s before factoring in the player New York will lose this week to expansion. If it’s Antti Raanta, the number will climb to over $17 million, and if it’s Michael Grabner, the figure jumps to the neighborhood of $18 million.

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kevin shattenkirk

The biggest free agent prize of the 2017 offseason is defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. A top pairing defenseman on most teams, Shattenkirk isn’t an elite defenseman, but he is a steady puck mover who is great on the powerplay and racks up points regularly. He’s clearly the best player available this year in free agency, and is likely headed to a big time contract.

But the question for most Rangers fans is going to be what that contract looks like. With the salary cap ceiling headed to $75 million, the Dan Girardi buyout, and the Kevin Klein retirement, the Rangers all of a sudden have a ton of cap space to work with. Believe it or not, they actually have the cap space to land Shattenkirk and re-sign their key RFAs if they so desire.

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