Other than the start of free agency, perhaps there’s no other time of the year where hockey fans, the media, and even front office staff get overly excited about other team’s players. Some trade deadline’s end up as complete busts, while other’s see more movement than anyone could have anticipated. How this week will turn out, nobody knows for sure.
However, for the first time in a rather long time, I’m hoping the Rangers will stand pat. Even if it means holding on to you-know-who regardless of whether he signs a new contract by 3pm Wednesday. This year the reason to stand pat is simple — we’re playing very well and we still have yet to see the best of Rick Nash.
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Throughout the year, there have been rumblings about trading Dan Girardi or Ryan Callahan. We’ve mostly been dismissive about them. Over the past two days, we’ve seen a big blowup in the rumors, and received a bunch of emails. So let’s answer all of them:
Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images
Q: What exactly is going on?
Both Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi are set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the year, and both are due for relatively big pay increases. There have been rumblings –from multiple media members, including Bob McKenzie– that the Rangers are entertaining trade offers for both. The rumors are that they will trade them both instead of risking losing them for nothing. It seems that Girardi is the one who will most likely re-sign soon, but Cally’s contract negotiations are not going well.
Q: What do they want in their next deals?
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Courtesy of NYR Zone
When the clock strikes 3pm on Wednesday, March 5th signaling the time which any player acquired by a team can be eligible to participate in the postseason (also known as the trade deadline), it is all but certain Ryan Callahan will still be Captain of the New York Rangers Hockey Club. However, what happens between March 5th and July 1st is still anyone’s guess.
Today, we’re going to take a look at a few different scenarios around what the Rangers might look like with and without our Captain heading into next year, and what the cost implications might be. Realistically, barring a trade (which is unlikely to begin with), there are only two scenarios for the Rangers: They re-sign Cally, or they do not re-sign Cally.
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Zuccarello: one of the more consistent Rangers this season
Amid the very up and down season the Rangers are currently ‘enjoying’, one player who has finally started to show some legitimate consistency is Mats Zuccarello, and it could cost the Rangers. The Rangers did the right thing last summer when they did not over commit to Zuccarello when they brought him back on a short term deal. The player hadn’t shown enough consistency or finishing ability to be considered a viable top six NHL forward and given his size and skill set, any other role wasn’t a realistic option.
Since his early season benching for the Flyers game, Zuccarello has arguably been the Rangers most creative player and is producing at a solid level. For a player that until recently has struggled to exert himself on a game by game basis, Zuccarello has been a creative force.
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Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
We’ve received some feedback over the past few weeks that readers are looking for a more objective viewpoint on hot-button Rangers issues. In our insatiable desire to please our readership, we’ve decided to start the Playing devil’s advocate series, looking at both sides of major debates and lending our own conclusion.
As the 2013-2014 season progresses, one topic that always remains at the forefront is the Brad Richards buyout decision. The Rangers are allowed one more compliance buyout in June of 2014, and the rumors are they will use it on Richards. The 33-year-old center signed a back-diving contract as a free agent prior to the 2011-2012 season. After a strong first season, Richards struggled mightily in the lockout-shortened 2013 season. He got off to a hot start this season (5-3-8 in the first 8 games), but has slowed a bit, putting up 2-10-12 in the other 20 games. Despite that, Richards is still leading the team in scoring, with 20 points in 28 games. Regardless of your opinion of Richards, he’s a critical Ranger this season. But is he worth the risk of keeping him around?
The case to keep him around:
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Courtesy of Blueshirts United
There’s an old cliche that lingers around front offices and rinks throughout North America that ‘if you’re good enough, you’ll make it no matter what’. It’s a cliche that lives on because so to do the skeptics and excuses that often attach to certain players who don’t live up to expectations.
All too often fans and media members are quick to point fingers at a coach or a GM when a young player’s output doesn’t immediately reflect their scouting report. However, player development can take time and not everyone goes through the same process to reach their potential.
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Scott Levy/Getty Images
We’ve received some feedback over the past few weeks that readers are looking for a more objective viewpoint on hot-button Rangers issues. In our insatiable desire to please our readership, I’ve decided to start the Playing devil’s advocate series, looking at both sides of major debates and lending our own conclusion.
For the inaugural edition of Playing devil’s advocate, I’ve decided to tackle the great Henrik Lundqvist debate (did you really think I would start with anything else?). I’m going to break down both sides of the argument as to whether he is still elite, and whether trading the King makes any sense.
Considering The King’s looming free agency and slow start to the season, the debate about whether he is worth investing heavily in after the season was kind of inevitable. He’s clearly looking to max out the term (a risky proposition with a 31-year old) and increase his current $6.8 million salary by a significant margin. This has (understandably) made more than a few Rangers fans uncomfortable. The question that is ultimately begged by this situation is: while Hank has been elite for the past nine seasons, will he continue to be elite for the next eight? Additionally, is his pedestrian start to the season indicative of an already-in-progress decline?
The case for still elite:
Any case for Hank continuing his status as an elite NHL goaltender starts with his track record. He has been the most consistently excellent goaltender in the NHL since Lockout II. This means little for trying to predict the future, but thus far, Hank has yet to disappoint. Read more »
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
Over the past few seasons, namely since his 20-goal season, Brian Boyle has become a whipping boy around the inter-webs. It’s incredibly perplexing since Boyle has been one of, if not the best, defensive forward the Rangers have had in quite some time. Many argue that he doesn’t score and doesn’t provide offense, but that’s not his role on the team. Yes, Boyle scored 20 goals once upon a time. But his role now is to take defensive zone draws, play solid defense, and move shutdown the opposition. It’s something he has been very good at as well.
Another common, and not thought out, complaint about Boyle is that he “isn’t physical.” This I laugh at quite often. There is a difference between being a physical player and being a fighter. Boyle doesn’t fight. He has no need to. Physicality and toughness are about the ability to use size to gain strong position along the boards and outworking your opponent. We see this every game that Boyle plays, and we saw it against Pittsburgh for Ryan McDonagh’s goal.
If the eye test deceives you because of the name on the back of his jersey, then the underlying #fancystats should help shed some light.
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He was effective last year. Maybe it’s time to give him a real chance (Photo: AP).
Let me begin by stating that I am not an advocate of playing Chris Kreider at the current moment. He has been very suspect defensively, and he just hasn’t been good without the puck. When he isn’t scoring, his role is severely limited on this team. I am still of the belief that Kreider needs to round out his game before he can get big time minutes.
That said, Kreider’s greatest assets are his speed and offensive potential. For a Rangers club that has mustered just one lucky bounce goal in two games these playoffs, it may be time to let the kid loose and see what he can do when given a chance with offensive minded players. At this stage of the series, the Rangers need goals, and they might be willing to sacrifice some defensive mindedness to find some goals.
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This is not how the Rangers have successfully developed prospects in recent years
The Rangers’ recent success has made Chris Kreider a forgotten man, but the handling of Kreider has been the most disappointing aspect of the 2013 season.
You can’t blame the 21-year-old for hitting a bump in the road, but the organization’s treatment of its prized winger has been a mess since the season-opener. Kreider got off to a miserable start with the
Connecticut Whale Hartford Wolf Pack, where Kreider was asked to begin learning the Rangers’ system at the sacrifice of his offense. He posted just five goals and seven assists in 34 games and was struggling on both ends of the ice.
But Kreider was still handed a job out of training camp because the Rangers were very short on forwards and because, in case you forgot, he scored five goals right out of college for the Blueshirts in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This raised so many eyebrows that Chad Kolarik was rumored to have requested a trade due to this decision.
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