Archive for Goaltending
When Henrik Lundqvist went down with a fluke vascular injury last season, all eyes turned to Cam Talbot. A very short time after inking a very reasonable one year, $1.45 million extension, Talbot was thrust into starting duty. After his impressive rookie season as backup to the King, this was his first big test. Long story short, Talbot delivered and the focus began to shift to the ultimate offseason return for the former University of Alabama-Huntsville keeper. Whatever we may think of the value he brought in hindsight, his departure to Edmonton left the Rangers without a reliable backup in the system. Especially in light of Mackenzie Skapski’s injury.
On the very same day Talbot was shipped out to western Canada, the front office turned Ryan Haggerty into Antti Raanta. While a somewhat under-the-radar move, I think everyone assumed the Rangers had found their backup. Raanta had a very short NHL track record (39 career games), but had put up excellent number this past season. At 26 years-old, he was an ideal backup with some upside.
Happy Friday, BSB faithful! Welcome to the final installment of the 4th Annual Top 30 Goaltenders List. It’s been a wild ride, but here we are. The first two editions of the rankings can be found here and here, and the first post will outline the format if you are late to the party. A few readers have reached out looking for a write up on the guys who were left off the list from last season, since there was a ton of turnover this time around. If there is interest in that, I can definitely put a post like that together. You can think of it as a spin-off to the original.
Without any further delay, here are your Top 10. Read More→
Welcome to the second installment of the 4th Annual Top 30 Goaltenders List! This time around we will be ranking goaltenders 20-11. In case you missed it, the 30-21 bracket, in addition to all this year’s housekeeping considerations can be found right here. Since that all that good stuff was covered in the first post, let’s jump right in… Read More→
With the Draft approaching and everyone’s attention turning to off-season business, Ranger fans have fixated on a report from TSN’s Darren Dreger (here and here) regarding significant interest around the league in Cam Talbot. He is apparently the top choice for a number of teams for their goaltending vacancies; Edmonton, San Jose, Calgary, Florida, Buffalo and Dallas, have all been named as potential suitors.
This is great news for the Rangers. A short time ago, we were talking about a second round pick representing solid value for the one-time undrafted free agent. Now, there is chatter about Talbot’s value being as high as a mid-first round pick. That would be quite the coup. This development has created an interesting debate in real versus perceived value. Read More→
After their historic comeback against the Capitals, the Rangers have punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference Final against a very skilled and very deep Tampa Bay Lightning team. There will be narratives about reuniting with old friends and a lopsided season series, but those will generally be media fluff. However, there has been legitimate debate about the impact that Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop has had during his first playoff run as a starter.
His numbers so far in this postseason are very good. However, his stats haven’t exactly lined up with the eye test to this point. Let’s dig into his game a little bit and figure out exactly what the Rangers are up against. I actually did a breakdown of Bishop’s style way back in 2012, when he was first breaking into the league with Ottawa. Much has changed, however. Since this is our third goalie scouting report so far this postseason (Fleury, Holtby), you know the drill by now: Stance, Crease movement/depth, Equipment, Puck-handling ability and Exploitable Weaknesses. Here we go… Read More→
It took seven grueling games, but the when the Capitals defeated up the upstart Islanders on Monday night, D.C.’s finest secured a date with the Rangers for the fifth time in seven years. This brings us to our second round goaltending preview of Braden Holtby.
When I sit down to write these posts, I always take a look back to see if I’ve done previews before and see how my current analysis stacks up against my observations from prior seasons. I realized this time around that I’ve already done two (!) previews of the twenty five year-old Saskatchewan native. Those prior looks can be found here and here. Seems like only yesterday he was making his playoff debut.
After flashing serious potential in his first few seasons on a defensively porous Capitals team, Holtby put everything together this season under Barry Trotz. His numbers (2.44 GAA and .923 save percentage) were both single season bests. Additionally, he started 72 games this year, by far a career high (we’ll get to that later). He really cemented himself as an upper-echelon goaltender this season. Read More→
Finally, after 82 games and 187 days, the Rangers now know they will be facing in the first round of the playoffs. After a relatively strong start to the season, the Pittsburgh Penguins, suffering from a number of significant injuries, limped into the 8th and final playoff spot on Saturday. In preparation for the start of the series on Thursday, we will be running some preview posts so we can see what lies ahead for the Blueshirts in the opening round.
First up is an analysis of Marc-Andre Fleury, who will have the esteemed honor of playing behind an absolutely injury ravaged defense. Fleury had a nice renaissance of sorts this season, posting numbers far above his career averages (2.32 GAA/.920 sv% vs career averages of 2.59 and .911, respectively). He was far from the problem for the Penguins this year. I actually did a preview of Fleury way back in 2012, and the scouting report has definitely changed a bit. Quick refresher if it’s been a while; I’ll cover Stance, Crease Movement/Depth, Equipment, Puck-Handling Ability and Exploitable Weaknesses. Let’s get after it… Read More→
When the New York Rangers announced that goalie Henrik Lundqvist has been cleared to return to practice, most of the Ranger Twitter-verse united in cheers of “WOOHOO!” But a few people stated that the Rangers now have a goalie controversy. Cam Talbot has been playing out of his mind the past few games, and has done a fantastic job of filling in for Lundqvist while he was injured.
Let me be clear: There is no goaltender controversy for the Rangers.
Talbot has been great after a few shaky games to begin his run as a starter. He’s carried the Rangers through major SH% regression, leading them to a likely division win and a potential President’s Trophy. That said, Henrik Lundqvist is the starting goaltender for the New York Rangers. Period.
*due to the large percentage of the BSB staff who were physically at the Canucks game, Dave’s goal breakdown will be posted this afternoon.
The entirety of the Rangers’ community held their collective breath during the announcement that franchise goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was experiencing continued symptoms from his fluke neck injury. It was a strange coalescence of events that ended in a vascular injury and an uncertain timetable for his return. In his stead, it was a no-brainer to turn to Cam Talbot. What was somewhat surprising was that 20-year old MacKenzie Skapski got the nod to play second string for the big club.
That’s not a knock on Skapski, mind you, who has been playing very solid hockey in his first pro-season in the AHL. After eight games without Lundqvist, Skapski is still yet to start a game (however rumored to be starting tonight in Buffalo). Since Lundqvist’s injury is relatively rare in hockey, his timetable and confidence is his overall health going forward somewhat suspect. All of this begs the question of whether the Rangers would be wise to bring in some additional goaltending depth prior to the deadline. With this in mind, I thought I’d break down some low-cost candidates who could be waived if need be in the event Hank comes back strong and ready to go for the stretch run.
MacKenzie Skapski, New York Rangers:
Let’s start with the obvious. The Rangers could simply give Skapski a try and see if he can handle the speed of the NHL game. I admittedly haven’t seen much of him, but the little I have watched shows a quick, athletic tender, with a tendency to get too busy in his movements and can overplay his positioning. Beniot Allaire is a master at quieting a goaltender’s motions (see Talbot, Cam), so I think this possibility is worth a shot. Better than Skapski riding the bench until Hank returns.
Yann Danis, Hartford Wolfpack:
Alternatively, the Rangers could swap Skapski for career journeyman Yann Danis. The 33-year old Quebec native has seen NHL action for the Habs, Islanders, Devils and Oilers over the course of his career, posting decent numbers in small samples. Something tells me he would make it through waivers on his way back down, and I would much rather see him decorating the bench at MSG and letting Skapski play in Hartford in the Rangers don’t see playing time in MacKenzie’s short-term future.
Anders Lindback, Buffalo Sabres: (1 year/$925k, pending UFA)
Just a couple years back I was a big fan of Lindback. He was a big goalie who had played well in limited time behind Pekka Rinne and looked to break out as a starter with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Instead, Lindback tanked and another massive goalie in Ben Bishop stole the crease in Florida. His large frame has gotten away from him and his mechanics have gotten all out of whack. He is as dispensable as it gets, though, turning UFA after the season.
Scott Clemmensen, Albany Devils: (1 year/$600k, pending UFA)
We’ve all seen plenty of Clemmensen over the years, both with New Jersey and Florida. He is about as vanilla as a backup goalie gets, but we can be confident in his competency for a few games at a time. The bigger question is whether Sather and Lou could get together for a trade even of this microscopic magnitude.
Reto Berra, Colorado Avalanche: (2 years/$2.9m remaining)
Two years and almost $3 million left on his deal. Pass.
Mike McKenna, Arizona Coyotes: (1 year/$550k, pending UFA)
Another career journeyman and pending UFA. McKenna has bounced around with the Lightning, Devils and Blue Jackets before landing in the desert. For what it’s worth, he has better AHL numbers than Danis does, but that’s hardly a conclusive argument for going out and getting him. Plus, it’s not like the ‘Yotes have goalie depth to spare at this point. McKenna is not likely worth the hassle for an incremental upgrade on what the Rangers already have.
Richard Bachman/Viktor Fasth, Edmonton Oilers (1 year/$615k, pending UFA/1 year/$3.4m cap hit remaining)
Bachman is another McKenna-type. Pending UFA on a small deal, but since they are overflowing with mediocre goaltenders in Edmonton, maybe this makes a little more sense. Fasth on the other hand has another year on his deal at a $3.4m cap hit. Yuck.
Jason LaBarbera, Norfolk Admirals (1 year/$750k, pending UFA)
When I first looked up old friend Jason LaBarbera, I was almost positive he was a free agent. Apparently the Ducks snuck him down to Norfolk, where he has very solid numbers in twenty games. Might be worth a flier, but not much of a huge upgrade to be had here. If he was a UFA, I’d say grab him and let him play a few games to rest Talbot, but he’s not exactly an ideal trade target.
As you can see, the pickings are slim. I don’t suppose you can really seek a meaningful upgrade when Lundqvist will hopefully be back in the next couple weeks, but depth is never a bad thing. Personally, I would soldier on with out internal options, whether that is Danis or Skapski. If I had to go outside the organization, I think Clemmensen is your best bet, but good luck with that. Moral of the story: get well soon, Hank.
The Rangers obviously endured a significant loss with the news that Henrik Lundqvist will miss around three weeks of the regular season but here’s the thing; if it was going to happen then now is the perfect time, in the perfect situation and with a great schedule coming up. Providing Lundqvist comes back 100% the Rangers may see this as a blessing in disguise.
A quick look at the Rangers busy schedule for the next three weeks and there are several games where, based purely on standings and opposition quality, the Rangers shouldn’t ‘need’ Lundqvist which begs the question whether Talbot would have been in line for more starts this month anyway. In February alone the Rangers have several ‘bottom feeders’ on tap.
The Sabres, Coyotes (twice), Leafs are all on the February schedule while the Flames, Flyers and Avalanche also play the Rangers and aren’t exactly intimidating opponents this season either. Given Alain Vigneault’s declaration that he knew which games Talbot was going to get moving forward, did he look at the rather friendly – and busy – schedule and had already planned a heavier workload for Talbot in February?