Both poised for bounce-back years. Will they do it? (Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)
It’s no secret: Brad Richards and Ryane Clowe had disastrous seasons. Richards was a non-factor for the Rangers on the powerplay –something he was brought in to help bring back to respectability– and was even a healthy scratch for the last few games of the postseason. Clowe didn’t score a goal until he arrived in New York before suffering what is rumored to be two concussions over the span of the last week of the season and his two playoff games.
What we do know is that they were both awful. What we don’t know is whether or not these were off-years or the sign of a complete downward spiral for both players. However, handy-dandy puck possession metrics and shooting percentages can give us a bit of insight into what to expect from them next year, be it in New York or elsewhere. Yesterday I looked at the puck possession leaders for the Rangers, and both Richards and Clowe were among the top five for the Rangers, which may allude to the fact that there’s still gas in the tank. Insert “watch the game nerd” joke here.
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(Winslow Townson/Associated Press)
This week Dave has already touched on Mike Ribeiro as a free agent possibility. He certainly makes for an appealing candidate who has had a productive career. I’m going to discuss why the Rangers should stay well clear of players like Ribeiro.
Once again the Rangers will likely have a hole in the middle of their line-up this offseason. If speculation is true and Brad Richards is to be bought out this summer, the Rangers will have plenty of cap space to play with. While they have to address their own roster first (McDonagh, Stepan, Zuccarello, maybe Clowe, etc) there should be some money with which to enter the free agent market. This is where it gets dicey.
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Did the Rangers forwards play up to their ability?
Deciding on grades for the Rangers top six forwards is a bit tricky given John Tortorella’s penchant for mixing his lines and moving players up and down the line up because of his almost infamous lack of patience. Who knows, maybe his propensity for constant change had a part to play in his dismissal. That all said; with another Rangers season over (in underwhelming style) let’s look at the Rangers offensive producers.
It’s probably not in my best interests to admit this when hoping you read to the end, but I have no idea what has happened to Brad Richards or how to explain his startling fall from grace. Richards was brought in to remedy the Rangers depth issues at center and to help improve an under performing powerplay. He’s done anything but in either aspect. Richards followed up an acceptable first year as a Ranger with a disastrous second.
His regular season was full of scoreless streaks, a lack of confidence (that got worse as the season progressed), and his mere presence on the powerplay became enough to worsen the unit. Richards’ game has disintegrated to the point that every beat writer has already written him off as a buy out this summer. What makes Richards’ season somewhat puzzling is the hot streak of sorts at the end of the regular season that offered one final slither of hope that he was rebounding. It was a false dawn. It’s highly likely his last days as a Ranger were spent in the press box. Grade: F
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As the feeling of shock lifts from the Ranger fan community, we’ve begun to examine some possible replacements for coach John Tortorella. The new man behind the bench will be the story of the offseason, but the departure of Tortorella could also have an impact on many other important decisions the franchise will make.
Henrik Lundqvist will sign a contract extension
I still believe that The King’s comments on Monday were harmless, but many Rangers fans panicked over Lundqvist’s hesitation to commit to New York long term. To me, Lundqvist was only being smart before negotiating what should be his final NHL contract, one that will put a massive dent in New York’s payroll going forward. Nevertheless, there have been some clues that Lundqvist was less than thrilled with Tortorella. With the ornery general out of the way, no amount of money or years should be an obstacle in locking up Hank for the next eight years. Firing Tortorella was a strong message to Lundqvist and others that New York recognizes its window won’t be open indefinitely and that there’s a sense of urgency every year to bring home the Cup. Expect Lundqvist to ink a new pact this summer. Read more »
New York’s fourth line center would cost an extra $6 million to buy out this summer
It’s growing increasingly difficult to believe that this is just an off year for Brad Richards, that the 33-year-old will bounce back with the benefit of a summer to clear his head and a full John Tortorella training camp in the fall. There are just too many signs that the former star center is on a steep decline.
And yet, despite Tortorella’s own silent admission through a fourth-line demotion that Richards has been awful, it’s still extremely unlikely the Rangers will exercise a buyout on Richards this summer.
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Sorry again about no goal breakdown, but the Rangers picked up two big points against the Devils today, winning by a score of 4-0. Hank bagged his second shutout of the season and Rick Nash enjoyed a dominating performance with two goals. There were contributions from all over the ice, including two point performances from Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards and Derek Stepan. The win gives the Blueshirts 56 points, 22 regulation wins and a temporary hold on the 6th seed in the East. I thought I’d use this post as an open thread for everyone to talk about the game, plus lay out the possible playoff matchup scenarios the Rangers could find themselves in.
6th Seed: Since the Islanders are already done, it comes down to the Ottawa Senators to change the seeding. The Sens have two remaining games and 54 points. For the Rangers to stay in 6th place, the Sens would need to lose at least one game in regulation or lose both in OT/shootout. In that case, The Sens would either finish with less or the same amount of points as the Rangers, and the Rangers would hold the tiebreaker on regulation victories. Read more »
The Rangers played one of their most complete games of the season as they eliminated the Devils from postseason contention, winning 4-1. The Rangers were the better team throughout led once again by Callahan and Stepan offensively with Henrik Lundqvist again in strong form in net. The Rangers are peaking at the right time. You have to enjoy the Devils mocks from the crowd toward the end. That feels good. So does seeing their head coach get ejected. This was a satisfying win for the Rangers. On to the goal breakdown.
Rangers 1-0; Ryan Callahan
The Rangers struck early; after getting in deep and generating pressure along the boards the puck caroms off the boards to Callahan who, stationed to the right of the Devils goal caught Brodeur off guard to bank it off his right skate in to the net. The goal was basically a result of immediate puck pressure and a strange bounce that Callahan was able to take advantage of.
Rangers 2-0; Derek Stepan
Traffic + puck possession = goals. The Rangers cycled the puck down low effectively then moved the puck to the blueline where it eventually came to Ryan McDonagh. As McDonagh wound up for a shot, two Rangers (Clowe and Stepan) went toward the net and created a heap of traffic in front of Brodeur. McDonagh’s shot from the right point appears to take a deflection in front from Stepan as Brodeur could see very little as the puck found its way in.
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Who knew Brad Richards’ fall from grace would be so quick, so sudden? In what looks like an irreversible decline in both form and ability, Brad Richards offering up the occasional solid period here or decent game, won’t likely be enough to stop his premature departure from the Rangers. Not many people anticipated him fulfilling his free agent contract but few will have seen his potential departure coming so soon.
Richards’ had a decent, if somewhat underwhelming first season in New York. In his defence, an abbreviated, compressed season with almost no training camp that was further hindered by the flu bug certainly didn’t help the veteran reach his expected level this year. Though, even with all that considered he still doesn’t look right.
There is surely no way Richards sees anywhere close to the end of his contract. Much like Wade Redden, Richie’s deal is already almost untradeable (especially with Bob Gainey no longer running hockey operations in Montreal). Indeed, Richards’ deal is especially untouchable considering the reduction in the salary cap next season.
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Wednesday was a big day in Rangerland. As we all know by now, the Blueshirts acquired Ryane Clowe for three draft picks and traded oft-maligned sniper Marian Gaborik to the Blue Jackets for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, and John Moore (with misc. non-prospects and a late draft pick thrown in). Yesterday, Chris did a fantastic job adding some perspective in the musings. Suit broke it down on Twitter. I don’t think it’s fair they get to have all the fun with the new acquisitions, so I’m going to throw my two cents in. Think of it as a supplemental trade musings.
I’m going to do my best not to retread on already discussed ground…
- Obviously, having some time to digest the trade scenario for a day or two in addition to the beat down the Rangers threw Pittsburgh on the eve of the trade makes it look pretty good. I’ll be interested to see how the team looks tonight.
- It’s my feeling that this trade was all about flexibility. After the Nash trade and the departures of Brandon Prust, John Mitchell and Ruslan Fedetenko, the Rangers constructed a roster with a very defined top and bottom six. At the time, I thought this was a good thing. No more mid-level players masquerading as goal scorers and grinders on the power play. However, what ended up happening was a complete loss of versatility when purported top-six players underperformed. Ryane Clowe and Derek Brassard can play in multiple situations, sliding pretty seamlessly from top to bottom six duty depending on performance, situation, etc. Read more »
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We’ve spent a lot of time talking about how the Rangers, as currently constructed, are not a team that is rich with depth. It’s something that we’ve discussed on about a weekly basis at this point, but depth is only a part of the problem. The issue of depth is easy to address, but that won’t matter if the star players on the Rangers roster do not contribute in the way they are supposed to.
Last season the Rangers relied heavily on Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards, and they delivered. They were the top two scoring leaders (76 points for Gaborik, 66 for Richards) on the team at even strength and on the powerplay, Gaborik led the team in goals (41), and Richards led the team in assists (41). Coming into this shortened season, these two were expected to at least contribute at that same level. Rick Nash was to come in and give them some breathing room and spread out the scoring a bit. Nash has lived up to his end of the bargain. Gaborik and Richards have not.
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