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Quick notes: NHL top-60 prospects; AHL signings

Some quick notes on this Thursday morning:

  • NHL.com released their top-60 prospects, and only one Ranger (Kevin Hayes) cracked the list at #49. That may seem a bit alarming, but it’s on par with what we’ve seen from other rankings. Although, it appears NHL.com’s list is heavy on who is closest to NHL ready, as top-end skill guys like Anthony Duclair and Pavel Buchnevich were noted as receiving votes. Brady Skjei also fell into that category.
  • The Hartford Wolf Pack are rounding out their roster adding forward Vinny Saponari and defenseman Steve Spinell to AHL deals. Saponari spent the majority of last season with Cleveland in the AHL, putting up 15-18-33 in 58 games. Spinell spent last year primarily with the South Carolina in the ECHL after four years at Miami of Ohio, putting up 1-8-9 in 58 games. Both will be depth players, and do not count towards the 50 contract limit.

How David Krejci’s new deal influences Derek Stepan

Is Stepan about to strike it rich? AP Photo/Bruce Bennett, Pool

Is Stepan about to strike it rich? AP Photo/Bruce Bennett, Pool

Within the next twelve months, Glen Sather has some pretty significant decisions to make. Not least is deciding what Derek Stepan is worth to the organisation and the value that his worth brings. Over the past couple weeks Boston Bruins center David Krejci signed a long term deal to remain in Boston and did so for a whole heap of cash. For a club with cap issues, the Bruins gave a huge commitment, earlier than necessary, to their top center.

Krejci’s deal impacts Stepan’s future with the Rangers – he’s a solid comparable – and Stepan’s agent will surely point to the Bruin in upcoming negotiations. You can argue that Krejci is ahead of Stepan at this stage of his career and you would be right, but there are similarities. Both players are similar in size (around the 6ft mark, around 190-195lbs) and are both playmaking centers that are pass first pivots. Both players have moved up their respective organisations quickly to become the top dog at the center position.

Statistically there is not a huge difference either. Krejci can be counted on for 60-65 points per season at 28 years old, while the younger Stepan is a guarantee for 55+ per year if you factor in his almost point/game pace in the lockout impacted year. This is without considering the merits of the strength of each roster and the two centers’ line mates: Krejci has enjoyed success with a stronger roster around him.

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Rangers re-sign John Moore

Glen Sather’s offseason list is complete. RFA defenseman John Moore has re-signed on a one-year, $850k deal (his qualifying offer). Moore put up a line of 4-11-15 last season, averaging 15:19 in ice time.

One interesting bit about the contract: This appears to be a “show me” deal for Moore. There are kids knocking at the door, specifically Brady Skjei next season, and he will need to show he can be a consistent third pairing defenseman in a short amount of time.

Arrests made in connection with death of Derek Boogaard

In case you missed it from yesterday, there have been some arrests made in connection with the overdose death of Derek Boogaard in May of 2011. Jordan Hart, son of former Islander Gary Hart, was arrested for supplying Boogaard with the prescription painkillers that led to his death. Oscar Johnson, a PA in Utah, was also arrested for providing Hart with the prescriptions for a number of years.

Another report mentions that a member of the 2010-2011 Rangers guided Boogaard to Hart when the former asked where he could find painkillers.

Rangers facing several more key personnel decisions again this season

Washington Capitals v New York Rangers - Game Three

Prior to the start of the 2013-2014 season, few could have imagined that the Rangers would trade their heart and soul captain, Ryan Callahan, at the March 5 trade deadline. But such is life in the salary cap world – GM Glen Sather determined a contract number he wouldn’t exceed for both Callahan and defenseman Dan Girardi. Girardi proved willing to negotiate within Sather’s limits, Callahan did not, and he was stunningly traded for Martin St. Louis.

Why bring this up now? Because just as with last fall, the Rangers are about to open camp with a few mega contracts looming on the horizon. New York has a bit more financial wiggle room this time around, especially with the salary cap ceiling likely to increase, but there are still tough decisions to be made. So what lies ahead?

Who will be the captain? – Not all of the major personnel decisions are financial – who will be the next face of the Rangers is as important a decision as any. The logical candidates – Girardi, St. Louis, Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh – all come with questions. Girardi’s play dipped dramatically in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs after he signed a six-year, $33 million contract, so it could be a risky move to give the 30-year-old blueliner this honor without knowing if he can maintain his previous level of play. St. Louis has just one year remaining on his contract and is 39 years old, so while he might be the perfect veteran leader right now, that could represent flawed short-term thinking. Like St. Louis, Staal has just one year left on his deal and faces an uncertain future with the organization. That all leads to McDonagh, who’s certainly the unanimous choice among fans. It would be a major shock if he didn’t receive the C, but that’s also a lot to throw onto a 25-year-old who’s still blossoming as a player.

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Did Gordie Clark and Glen Sather out-draft a potato?

I’ve been on the record many, many, many times stating that we like where the team stands and the direction the front office has taken to get here. That said, I thought this would be a fun exercise, and it doesn’t change my opinion of the front office moves or draft choices. This post is meant to be satirical, don’t take it seriously.

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During my normal internet time-sucks, I stumbled upon this post from Canucks Army, talking about the Canucks drafting problem, which is pretty rough following the 1999 draft. So they performed an exercise by taking the Vancouver draft history and pitting it against a potato. The idea was piggy-backed from Pension Plan Puppets and their running “Can the Leafs out-GM a potato” gag. So basically I’m piggy-backing off the piggy-backed post.

The phrase out-GM a potato made me laugh uncontrollably. I still giggle like a little school girl when I hear the phrase. You can imagine how long it took me to write these first two paragraphs.

Anyway, since the potato is a non-sentient starch product incapable of progressive thinking, there are set rules for said potato. The potato does not have access to game video, analytics, has never seen a game, and has never spoken to a scout, ever. After all, it’s a potato (or the Isles front office from 1995-2001, either one). It will draft following this set of rules (1-6 are the same rules followed at Canucks Army):

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Around the Farm: KHL season kicks off

The KHL season has kicked off, which means Pavel Buchnevich (Severstal) and Igor Shesterkin (SKA) have started their respective seasons. Here’s how each performed in their games so far this season (I will try to update on a game by game basis, but this update will have a few games lumped together):

  • Pavel Buchnevich (Severstal,KHL)
    • vs. Torpedo (L. 2-0)
      • 0 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, Even
    • vs.Traktor (W 3-2)
      • 1 G, 1 A, 0 PIM, +2
    • vs. Dynamo
      • 0 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, -1
  • Igor Shesterkin (SKA,KHL)
    • DNP in any game (served as backup in 3-2 win over HC Sochi, not dressed for other two games)
  • Calle Andersson (EV Zug, Champions League)
    • vs. ERC Ingolstadt (W 3-2)
      • 0 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, Even
    • vs.Vitkovice Ostrava(W 3-2)
      • 0 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, +1

Ryan Malone joins informal skates

Per Larry Brooks, forward Ryan Malone will be joining the informal skates with the Rangers this week. Brooks noted that Malone was invited by some Ranger players, as the team cannot formally invite him yet since he is not under contract. Brooks noted that Malone has been cleared to sign a contract –he had been dealing with issues stemming from his cocaine arrest– and it is likely he will sign a two-way contract with the Rangers, not a PTO.

Malone is certainly an intriguing addition, especially since this is a low risk contract. My only real question is about the number of contracts, as I noted when these rumors first surfaced. My understanding is that the Rangers are at 50 contracts (including John Moore, not including Ryan Graves), but clearly I’m missing something. I’ll assume that Anthony Duclair’s contract does not count towards the 50 contract limit, despite the fact that it doesn’t slide. I can’t find any verbiage on this, so if anyone can provide insight on this CBA nuance, it would be greatly appreciated.

Update: Since Duclair is 19 and will be sent back to Juniors (likely), his contract, even though it does not slide, will not count towards the 50 contract limit. That is why the Rangers have the space for this move.

Playoffs 2015: Who will Miss?

New Post, Old Picture

New Post, Old Picture

Last Sunday, we looked at playoff teams from last year which should be playing late April hockey again in 2015. Sixteen teams make it, and though none of us have a crystal ball (and if you do, remember, sharing is caring), based on offseason moves and prospect development, we could all have a good sense of teams that will be good and teams that won’t. Speaking of teams that won’t, we all know that just being in the playoffs one year does not guarantee success in years to come.

Let’s take a look again at the playoff teams of 2014:

 

Thanks again CBS Sports

It’s a fairly safe bet to say that not each and every team on the above bracket will be there next year. Frankly, let’s hope not; it would make for a pretty boring year. Let’s take a look at some teams which may be facing locker room breakup day when the season ends next spring.

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Tracking the Rangers zone entries & exits for the upcoming season

Mats Zuccarello

Over the course of the summer there has been one major topic that continues to pop up in the hockey analytics world: tracking zone entries and exits. The concept was originally brought to the forefront of the analytics community by blogger turned NHL consultant, Eric Tulsky. From there the idea of tracking these events took off, most noticeably with Corey Sznajder (creator of the Hurricanes’ blog “Shutdown Line”) who undertook a huge workload this summer by tracking every entry and exit from every NHL game of the 2013-14 season.

That’s just a little bit of the background, but why is tracking entries and exits so important?

The days of chip and chase hockey are slowly dying. Just like everything else in this world, hockey is evolving. Many teams have hired people to head up analytics departments this summer, including the Rangers (Jim Sullivan). Puck possession is as valuable as anything else in the game. The belief is that carrying the puck into the offensive zone is a more efficient play than dumping and chasing, and ultimately results in more shot attempts. At the same time, carrying the puck out of your own end results in more success through the neutral zone than stretch passes through multiple opponents. By tracking these events game by game we will be able to get a sense of which players can sustain high possession numbers and contribute to a teams shot total, which in turn will contribute to goals scored.

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