Heading into the offseason, the Rangers were rumored to be heavily invested in a roster shake up, one that saw them fielding offers on everyone on the roster except for Henrik Lundqvist. They were rumored to be going after the fourth overall pick (Edmonton) and/or the 15th overall pick (Minnesota) in an attempt to re-stock the farm system.
Instead, we are left with two bargain bin free agent signings in Michael Grabner and Nathan Gerbe, and one minor trade for Nick Holden. The club has the exact same blue line, just with Holden/Brady Skjei replacing Keith Yandle/Dan Boyle. Grabner and Gerbe replace Viktor Stalberg and Dominic Moore.
So what happened?
Becky’s post the other day had me thinking. The dog days of summer certainly are here, with little of note occurring in Rangerstown these days my attentions turned to other things. Watching both the Euro and Copa América tournaments, keeping up with baseball, trying my best to read and exercise, etc has all occupied my time since the end of the playoffs. Unlike my fellow blogger and podcasting companion however, I’m really feeling the lack of hockey pulling at me, and that’s got me thinking about this upcoming season and how I can best prepare myself for it. Let me explain what I mean.
Eighty-two games of hockey is a long season, which to me is both a good and bad thing. It’s a good thing because it means games are frequent, adding structure and motive to otherwise boring days and weeks. Hockey gives me something to look forward to at the end of the day on any given day, the narrative fluidity of different points in the season string together in a way that makes time pass gently and without friction, and in general it just gives me something to do, something to think about, and something to spend every waking hour obsessing over. I also go to a good amount of games (my dad’s a season ticket holder), so the routine and familiarity of Rangers hockey brings a certain comfort and excitement to my life – hockey, beyond but also including the physical confines of the Garden, feels like home to me.
The dog days of summer are here, with limited hockey activity and extended lazy days, it’s easy to lose track of what’s going on with the home team. Free agency has come and gone, and now development camp is the most action that we can see. It’s easy to lose sight of a winter sport while playing in the ocean, grilling in the yard, or relaxing with friends.
This year has been particularly difficult, though, in a way that was not apparent in years past: I immediately stopped caring about the Rangers halfway through the final game against the Penguins. It felt as though the Rangers stopped caring, and, as any good jilted lover does, I withdrew. It has been months and I barely wonder about them at all. Read More→
One of the biggest questions looming over the offseason for the Rangers is how they will manage their RFAs. They have four players potentially headed to arbitration, the most important piece being Chris Kreider. Kreider’s combination of skill, size, and speed is difficult for opposing teams to match up against, making him priority number one for the Rangers. Initial guestimates had Kreider coming in on a multi-year extension worth $5 million per season. Steep price to pay for Kreider, but that’s the market value nowadays.
Enter Kyle Palmieri of the Devils, who this week inked an extension to stay in New Jersey for five years at a $4.65 million cap hit. The contract includes a modified no-trade clause for the UFA years, the last three years of his deal. Prior to his 30-goal campaign this past season, Palmieri had never even hit the 15-goal mark, with his career high being 14 goals.
The ridiculousness of free agency is now a week behind us, and a whole lot has happened. Not much with the Rangers, mind you, but that is more or less a good thing. The Blueshirts brought in Michael Grabner, Nathan Gerbe, Nick Holden and a couple AHL signees. Most of the heavy lifting appears to be done, and as you can imagine, I have some thoughts…
- I can’t help but wonder if Jeff Gorton was aiming for some sort of actual return for Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. I am painfully aware that the number of cap floor, analytically-averse teams are dwindling rapidly and that there simply may have been no interested parties. This could explain why no one has signed Kris Russell yet. Point is, I hope Gorton would have jumped on the opportunity just to shed the salary and not hoped for an actual return.
Jimmy Vesey has a lot of admirers. Not least in Toronto, Boston and the recently highly active Sabres who acquired his rights. The Rangers are apparently also in on the young, soon to be college free agent but the timing of Vesey’s public saunter toward free agency is not good for the Rangers and they cannot wait for Vesey. Vesey should therefore be treated as a bonus and nothing more.
There’s no doubt that the Rangers would be better off if they could entice Vesey to New York (on an entry level deal) and add a quality prospect for nothing but dollars and an NHL contract. For a talent pool as diminished as the Rangers’ that would be a great scenario.
Any prospect that has finished his college career the way he did (104 points in 70 games, during his final two years at Harvard) and who has his finishing ability and size (6’1, about 200lbs) would be a great add for the Rangers.The problem is that August 15th (when Vesey becomes a free agent) is a long way off right now and the Rangers will need to address their issues long before then. They cannot wait for Vesey.
In the least surprising news of the offseason, four Rangers have filed for arbitration. Forwards Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, and J.T. Miller, and defenseman Dylan McIlrath all filed for arbitration before yesterday’s 5pm deadline. This is a part of the process, and shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. It’s a common occurrence for the Rangers, and it buys them more time to negotiate a contract.
This does protect all four players from receiving an offer sheet, something some people were concerned about. I’d expect that all four players reach deals before going to arbitration, since these hearings can get pretty ugly (remember the Sean Avery hearing?). Also this triggers the August buyout period for the Rangers, so they will have a second window to buyout players, if need be.
– In his post-draft press conference, GM Jeff Gorton was asked about his team’s plans for the summer and acknowledged “you can probably look at our roster and pick that apart and figure out what we need to do.” Gorton’s subsequent actions were to add Michael Grabner and Nathan Gerbe, which suggests Gorton viewed the penalty kill as the club’s primary weakness. Yes, Nick Holden might be a decent third-pair depth defenseman, but by no means is bringing him aboard the wholesale defensive makeover the Blueshirts so desperately needed. And what’s most puzzling is that of all the clued in media, Pat Leonard is the only one that has reported Gorton made any effort whatsoever to deal Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. There’s still a chance that Gorton buys out Girardi later in the summer or somehow swings a blockbuster trade, but it seems pretty likely that the Rangers will enter next season with a roster far too similar to the one that disappointed this past spring. By subtracting Keith Yandle, Viktor Stalberg and Dominic Moore and adding spare parts Holden, Grabner and Gerbe, there’s not much of a case to be made that the club is improved.
Jeff Gorton is busy today, locking up his second RFA in the past ten minutes. News of Mat Bodie’s contract broke just minutes ago, and now news has broken that Niklas Jensen has also re-signed. Jensen was acquired from Vancouver in exchange for Emerson Etem last season, and put up 15-10-25 in 41 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack this year.
The 23-year-old, 6’3″, 210 lb winger from Denmark is coming off his ELC. Details of the contract have not been disclosed, but it is expected to be close to the NHL minimum on a two-way deal. The former first round pick is expected to compete for a spot with the Rangers next season, but will likely be a depth call up as need be.
The Rangers now have 14 contract spots remaining, of the 50 max.