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Posts tagged: Dale Weise

Time To Send Weise Back To CT

The Rangers have a bit of a dilemma on their hands. Right now, they have two guys who are AHL call ups fulfilling the role of “stereotypical injury replacement” while the Rangers wait to get Ryan Callahan, Erik Christensen, and maybe Vinny Prospal back from injury. Dale Weise, called up after the Erik Christensen injury, and Kris Newbury, called up after the Alex Frolov injury, have both been competing for the fourth line RW spot to play around five minutes per game. Newbury, 28, has some NHL experience prior to this year, where he has been utilized in a fourth line role. Meanwhile, this is Weise’s first NHL go-round at 22 years old.

At some point, one of these two is going to have to be returned to the CT Whale. It doesn’t appear there is much competition for the spot, as whoever is playing is just keeping the roster spot warm and cozy until someone returns from injury. Both offer relatively the same kind of player, but with Weise offering more offensive skill, and Newbury more toughness. Personally, I don’t see a reason to keep Weise around if he is going to get five minutes per game. Let the kid go back to the AHL, get top line minutes, and develop more. Newbury is used to playing these kinds of minutes in the NHL, and likely isn’t in the Rangers long term plans. Oh, and Newbury can win face-offs. May as well keep him around.

Of course, the Rangers might keep both of them around until the All-Star break, when the Rangers get a week off.

Signs of Life from Grachev

While the Rangers lost 2-1 to Tampa Bay on Saturday, a key prospect was showing signs of life in Connecticut. Young Russian forward Evgeny Grachev scored 1 and added 2 assists for a career high 3 point (pro) game as the Connecticut Whale scored a 6-2 victory over Providence on New Year’s Day.

The game was a huge one personally for Grachev. Too often a passenger in his second pro season, Grachev has seen Dale Weise and Mats Zuccarello get (deserved) preference for playing time in New York this season. With four shots in the victory against the Baby Bruins, Grachev was involved all game as it wasn’t merely the case of a lucky goal or errant shot being Grachev’s offensive output. Grachev has now scored 5 goals and 10 points this season so he is still a long way from being a go-to offensive performer for the Whale but the events that saw him slip behind Weise and Zuccarello in the queue for New York should present an opportunity for the big Russian.

The 3 point night could be the break out game many hoped would come for Grachev but if it isn’t the absence of the other two key Whale forwards should mean extensive playing time, should mean extensive power play time (all 3 of his points versus the Bruins were with the man advantage) and should mean an opportunity to go on a run. The big Russian has all the skills and size needed to become a good NHL’er and has flashed it at times during his time as a pro but this may be his best opportunity thus far to make an impact. The Whale need him to fill a void – right now – while the Rangers could do with him becoming the draft steal that many have predicted so there is indeed plenty of pressure. We’ll get a potential glimpse into the future of Grachev over the next month or so.

With Christensen Out, Huge Opportunities for Multiple Players

Despite it being one player with marginal impact going down, the injury to Erik Christensen will give significant chance for players in vastly different situations for the next 4-6 weeks. The first and most obvious beneficiary is Dale Weise. Weise has proven over the last season and a half in the AHL that he has NHL talent both physically and skill wise. Scorer of 28 goals last year – on a losing Hartford side – the big winger came back after injury to return to scoring form for Connecticut this year. Having made an impressive NHL debut this year Weise will get regular NHL time for the next month or so and he deserves it. Weise brings the aforementioned size and aggression and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves or crash the net, qualities that will help ease any transition phase he may face in NY. However it is a big stage in Weise’s career. Once considered a marginal prospect Weise may cement his place in the line up or prove that he is merely an NHL fill-in. Indeed, Weise may be at a cross road given the forward depth and talent that is on its way over the next 12 months. However should he take his opportunity, get involved offensively and demand he be given ice time Weise may become a cheap and permanent fixture in the bottom six. It’s up to him Weise to make himself irreplaceable.

The second player with the increased opportunity is Mats Zuccarello. The little Norwegian has had a relatively solid start to life in the NHL but his ice time was likely to be carefully managed while he acclimatised to the big league but with a skilled forward now out of the line up Zuccarello becomes even more critical. Likely the only forward that offers the same shootout skill that Christensen could and given his much publicised talent the Norwegian winger will likely get thrust into a prominent role immediately. It will be interesting to see how the winger responds and whether he can do so consistently at this stage of his career already. With Callahan and Christensen out and Prospal yet to return Zuccarello, like Weise, has an opportunity to cement a spot in the line up but in this case a more prominent one. Tortorella has recently admitted the need to infuse the roster with more natural talent and he noted the little winger as the source of the desired skill. With plenty of minutes on offer if the winger can be an offensive contributor then he likely has a spot to keep. Unlike Weise however Zuccarello can play with no risk on his part. He knows there’s significant investment on the Rangers part in him and he also knows the Rangers need his talent level. His worst case scenario is more time in Connecticut before a full time call up. Zuccarello doesn’t face any cross roads like Weise may be.

The last player with significant opportunity is Chris Drury. Unlike the two prospects the captain isn’t fighting for his job but is fighting for increased significance. Having looked good at both ends since his return from injury goals have still eluded the veteran center while with Christensen’s absence it’s means a top 6 center spot is vacant. With Drury’s (much needed) skill in the face off circle and a spot at center ice in the top six likely open it could be Drury’s to take. This may also be Drury’s last chance to claim a regular scoring role in the NHL. With his offensive skills in decline and already considered a special teams and defensive leader, Drury will try to use any additional ice time to show he can still be a scorer like his days in Buffalo/ While the Rangers captain faces a different challenge to the two prospects Drury also faces a huge 4-6 week period in his illustrious career.

Christensen Hurt; Weise Called Up

As per Andrew Gross, Erik Christensen sprained his right knee during the second period of last night’s game. Christensen was pushed through the crease on a powerplay and did not return to the game. It is unlikely that he will make the trip to Florida this weekend when the Rangers take on Tampa Bay and Florida over the weekend in their first games of 2011.

Dale Weise was called up immediately after the game for the Rangers to replace Christensen. Weise had a very impressive first game with the Rangers against the Flyers. In just under seven minutes of ice time, Weise had a goal waived off, won a fight, had a shot on goal, and finished with an even rating. Expect Weise to be with the Rangers until Christensen is better, or until Vinny Prospal returns from injury.

Sunday Link Dump; Weise Returned to Connecticut

Dale Weise was returned to Connecticut after the Flyers game. The Rangers don’t play until Thursday against the Lightning, so it makes sense that Weise gets some regular playing time in the AHL, and be called up again if necessary. Weise had a very strong game, and is very deserving of a call up.

Here is your link dump for today:

John Merrigan at Blueshirt Banter looks at how Nik Zherdev could have been a good fit for the team this year. Zherdev and Alex Frolov are very similar players, with Zherdev having the better year this season. I preferred Zherdev to the Ales Kotalik experiment, but it’s tough to really complain when Kotalik turned into Brandon Prust. Regardless, the Frolov experiment isn’t working offensively, and it would have been interesting to see Zherdev on the Rangers this season.

Michael Gleich of Bleeding All Blue looks at Marian Gaborik, and if he is truly a star, or just an opportunistic sniper. Personally, I think he is a top-ten player in the league who is in a bit of a slump. He is still a point per game player, but he hasn’t taken over games like he did last year. Eventually he will work his way out of his funk though.

The Hockey Suit has a very detailed look at the skating lessons Brian Boyle took with Barbara Underhill. Boyle took these lessons over the summer because he knew his career as a hockey player could be at risk if he didn’t find a way to improve his game. I call this a successful lesson.

Rangers Call Up Dale Weise

As per Andrew Gross, the Rangers have called up Whale winger Dale Weise from Connecticut. Weise has been having a strong season in the AHL since returning from injury, with a line of 6-5-11 in 12 games, to go with 22 PIMs and a +1 rating. Gross says that Weise will play on the fourth line with Sean Avery and Chris Drury. The Rangers called up Weise because the very physical and tough Flyers are their next opponents. Todd White, who is not an enforcer or a fighter by any means, will be the healthy scratch.

I did mention that I would be surprised if there were any call ups because the Rangers had a good run going, but this move makes sense. The Rangers need another physical force out there with the Flyers. Weise will provide just that, as Brandon Prust’s shoulder is likely going to keep him from fighting much on Saturday.

AHL Review

The Hartford Wolf Pack (or Whale, you choose) has had a mixed set of results over the past few games but the positive news is that key Rangers prospects have started to turn in good performances after quiet starts.

The Weekend Set

Last Friday saw the Wolf Pack lose 3-2 to The Devils affiliate in Albany. The Pack however did get a point as they took the game to overtime. The game featured two firsts. First of all, Mats Zuccarello-Aasen got his first goal in North America while another first saw Wade Redden get his first goal (on the power play no less) in the AHL. Unfortunately, neither first was enough for the Wolf Pack to get the 2 points.

The Wolf Pack returned to action the next night, once again on the road, this time taking on the rival Bridgeport Sound Tigers who are the Islanders affiliate. This game was a tight defensive affair which the Pack edged 2-1 on another goal from Zuccarello-Aasen, which saw prospects Pavel Valentenko and Evgeny Grachev get the assists. The first Pack goal saw ‘banished Rangers’ combine as Tim Kennedy and Wade Redden assisted on Jeremy Williams’ second goal of the season. The game also featured strong goaltending from Chad Johnson who stopped 21 of the 22 shots he faced.

As is usual in the AHL, the Pack had a 3 in 3 nights stretch and played Sunday against the Providence Bruins, once more on the road. This was a strong victory for the Pack who despite being heavily outshot got a 3-0 shutout victory. Despite Kris Newbury’s 3 assists, Dane Byers 1+1 and Jeremy William’s 1+1 the stand out player for the Pack was young goaltender Cam Talbot who saved 41 shots to get the win. Other than 1 period of work last year this was Talbot’s first full game at the AHL level and what a first it was. The tall, 6’3 goaltender will have definitely put himself forward for more starts on this evidence.

Midweek Slump

This Wednesday the Pack played their 4th game in 6 days and the result wasn’t pretty. The result was a 5-1 loss at home to Norfolk which, according to reports, was underpinned by poor effort all round. This was another game where the Pack was heavily outshot, this time 36-25. The Packs lone goal was scored by Tim Kennedy who appears to have slotted seamlessly into the Hartford side. The loss brings the Wolf Pack’s record to 3-2-0-1 after 6 games leaving them 2nd in their division, behind Portland.

After 6 games a few players have started the year well offensively. Kris Newbury has 8 assists after 6 games, Dane Byers has 2+4 in 6 games, Jeremy Williams has 3+2 in 6 games while a certain Wade Redden is 1+5 in 6 games and appears to be playing good offensive hockey. Key prospects Evgeny Grachev, Mats Zuccarello-Aasen and Dale Weise all have 2 points so far. Norwegian forward Zuccarello-Aasen has improved in the past few games and has looked more comfortable on the smaller ice, getting 2 goals in his last 4 games.

Bad Break

Dale Weise, after breaking his left hand, will have surgery in New York on Friday and will be out 4-6 weeks. Given the injuries on the Rangers and the solid start (2pts in 3 games) Weise had in Hartford the timing of his injury is bad for himself as well as the organisation. Weise will hope to get back as soon as possible to avoid dropping down the depth chart.

Roster Questions in Gabby’s Absence

With Gaborik out for a minimum of 2 weeks, Drury done for at least 5 and Erik Christensen still hurting the Rangers will very likely need to recall a player from Hartford. The apparent depth the organization has is about to be tested early on in the season. Lets look at a few of the candidates.

Forget Tim Kennedy. If he is brought up, back a club can grab him for a mere 275k and a player at his age with minimum 25 point potential wont clear so Kennedy is likely in Hartford for the year. Will we see Todd White make his Rangers debut any time soon? His chances have certainly improved due to the injuries but if Christensen is ready to return the Rangers need is on the wing not at center so the chances the Rangers turn to Hartford increase.

Friday night, while the Rangers were struggling to deal with the Leafs, Mats Zucarrello-Aasen scored his first goal for Hartford. If the Rangers opt to bring a player up and go for skill, over merit they may fast-track MZA to the NHL. One goal in 3 games is nothing to scream about but in terms of pure skill he is the best option in Hartford out of the prospects. Other options may include Dale Weise and/or Dane Byers. Both have started the AHL season reasonably well – Byers has 3 points in 3 games, Weise 2 in 3 – and both were considered close to the roster in pre-season.

A player that should be left well alone (to find his game) in Hartford is Evgeny Grachev. With a goal in his first 3 games Grachev has made an impact but hasn’t yet taken over offensively. He should be allowed to get lots of ice time in the AHL and mature without having the burden of trying to make up for Gaborik’s loss.

If anyone is called up the smart money may be on Weise. Last year the Rangers wanted to get him in the line up at seasons end and Tortorella admitted he likes him as a player. If the Rangers go down the Weise/Byers route we may see Ryan Callahan bumped up a line. Whoever inserted into the line up will cause a rippling effect on the roster because its unlikely the Rangers would insert a guy like Weise straight onto the top line just to avoid breaking up the Stepan and Anisimov lines.

Weise vs. Prust vs. Byers

The Rangers, as they approach the 2010 offseason, will have a few difficult choices to make. One of those choices includes the curious case of Dale Weise, Brandon Prust, and Dane Byers. Each player brings a similar game to the table, but only one has seen significant NHL time to prove he belongs. With third/fourth line players Brian Boyle, Aaron Voros, and Donald Brashear already under contract for next season, and Chris Drury very quickly becoming a role player, the Rangers are looking at a few extra forwards. Unfortunately, none of these forwards belong on a team’s top-six. It appears there are only two spots available on these two lines. Those two spots are going to go to two of Weise, Prust and Byers. (For arguments sake, let’s assume that if Brashear isn’t back, that Jody Shelley will be, leaving the same number of open spots.)

Starting with Dale Weise, the only player of the trio under contract for next season, has never played an NHL game in his career. Still on his entry level contract at a $700k cap hit, Weise was called up briefly at the end of last season, only to sit in the press box watching the Rangers miss the playoffs. The 2008 fourth round pick put up 50 points (28-22) in 73 games with Hartford this past season, adding 114 PIMs to his point total. He is a prototypical power forward in the AHL. Those who watch him on a daily basis say that the winger is ready for the NHL. He may not put up 28 goals, but he would be able to skate with the pros and hold his own as a grinder. Weise, to the Rangers, represents a cheap, somewhat versatile bottom-six forward who may or may not succeed at the NHL level. What Weise has working for him is the fact that he is signed, a RW (which the Rangers severely lack), and that coach John Tortorella is on the record saying he wishes he could have found a spot for him to play. What he does not have going for him is that he does not have to pass through waivers, and he is unproven at the NHL level.

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Rangers Recall Weise, Re-Assign Locke

The Rangers have called up RW Dale Weise. This is Weise’s first ever call up to the NHL. In 73 games this season with the Wolfpack, Weise has put together a line of 28-21-49 with 114 PIMs. According to Mitch Beck of Howlings.net, Weise is one of the players on the Hartford roster that is NHL ready. To make room on the roster, center Corey Locke was re-assigned to the AHL. In his three game call up, Locke was held off the scoreboard and finished with a +1 rating.

Following the trade deadline, NHL clubs are allowed a maximum of four call ups until the end of the season. With Weise’s call up, the Rangers will not be allowed to make any more call ups for the rest of the season. This includes players like Locke who were called up and then sent back down.