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This past offseason, the Rangers let Anton Stralman walk via free agency and a five-year, $4.5 million deal in Tampa Bay. They replaced him with Dan Boyle on a shorter term deal, two years at $4.5 million. While the move was hotly contested by many, and created a divide for the pro-Stralman and anti-Stralman debate, the fact is that Boyle was still a serviceable replacement, and someone who would certainly help the team on the powerplay.
But then, 40 minutes into the season, Boyle broke his hand. Mike Kostka and Matt Hunwick have been called upon to replace him in the lineup, paired with either Marc Staal or John Moore. For the first month of the season, the Rangers are replacing Stralman with the Kostka/Hunwick combination, and no matter which way you slice it, that was never part of the plan.
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Three losses in four games and 12 goals against in the first two home contests certainly isn’t how the Rangers wanted to start the season, but it’s not altogether unexpected. With No. 1 center Derek Stepan and No. 4 D Dan Boyle on the shelf, and a slew of raw youngsters in the lineup, it’s no surprise that the Blueshirts have been a dumpster fire in their own end. There are certainly very real causes for concern, but there is plenty of time to right the ship – just take a look back at how last season started.
So since it’s all gloom and doom in Ranger-land this morning, let’s check out some of the things that are going right for New York, many of which have come as pleasant surprises:
– Rick Nash has six goals in four games. That’s a pretty decent start, by any measure. The #fancystats crowd insisted Nash would bounce back after a horribly unlucky postseason, but this offensive explosion has eclipsed anyone’s wildest dreams. This confidence boost will be huge for Nash after he was forced to take a long look in the mirror last spring, and it could be the start of a monster year.
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Dan Boyle has broken his hand, and will be out 4-6 weeks, per Pat Leonard. Boyle blocked a Jori Lehtera shot early in the third, and took his last shift one minute later. Suffice it to say: with Derek Stepan already out, this is another big blow.
Talking about needing to fill a big hole.
When the Rangers signed Dan Boyle to a two-year deal worth $9 million, they were signing someone to fill a pair of holes. The first hole to fill was that of the now departed Anton Stralman on the second pair, and the second was to fill Brad Richards’ role on the powerplay. It’s a gamble to take on a 38-year-old defenseman, but it’s a calculated gamble that, in reality, is relatively low-risk considering the term.
In Boyle, the Rangers get one of the premier powerplay quarterbacks in the game, albeit several years past his prime. Almost half of Boyle’s offensive contributions throughout his career have been with the man advantage, something the Rangers have sorely missed since the Martin Straka, Michael Nylander, and Jaromir Jagr trio left town. His booming shot from the point still commands respect, and his ability to move the puck is still solid.
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Dom Moore was brought back on a sensible deal – careful planning? (Photo: Dave Sandford/NHLI)
A successful franchise is well built from the bottom to the top. In the cap era a club needs to develop their own, they need to have a solid pipeline and a competitive minor league affiliate. Prospects need to get into the habit of success and the Rangers’ minor league affiliate hasn’t helped in this regard the past two years as the Wolf Pack have failed to get to the post season for two straight seasons.
To many Ranger fans, the Rangers had a disastrous July 1st. They lost popular players in Anton Stralman and Brian Boyle. They added a whole bunch of ‘minor leaguers’, an aging defenseman (Dan Boyle) with a recent injury history as well as a fist swinging bottom line player to an excessive deal. This is all true. However, let’s look at two key issues here; the loss of core players – Boyle and Stralman – and the ‘minor league’ bunch.
Stralman and Boyle are replaceable
Everyone laments the loss of Stralman and Boyle. Rightly so. They have developed into solid NHL players and became core members of the Rangers. However do you remember where they came from? Stralman couldn’t stick with a team and couldn’t do better than a try-out with the Devils; Boyle was a Kings cast-off destined for the AHL, he was a project. There is no reason why the Rangers cannot develop this kind of player again.
With Dan Boyle signed, the next person inserted into the line-up will have sheltered minutes on the 3rd pairing. In a cap world you have to make sacrifices and Stralman is getting far too much money and term from Tampa. At the end of the day, Stralman doesn’t offer anything that is irreplaceable. He offers no reason to panic.
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In just a few short hours, the 2013-2014 New York Rangers were blown apart.
Usually it’s GM Glen Sather that flashes the power of the dollar as he plucks key contributors away from other top teams on July 1, but yesterday it was the Blueshirts that were victimized by the league’s annual spending spree. The unfortunate part of the carnage was that much of it could have been avoided.
That Sather wasn’t prepared to come near the five years, $20 million that Benoit Pouliot received from Edmonton is completely understandable. But that he wasn’t willing to match the five years, $22.5 million that Anton Stralman got from Tampa Bay is a little less so.
The real kicker came towards the end of the day, when the same Lightning that had already re-signed Ryan Callahan and poached Stralman then inked Brian Boyle to the perfectly reasonable contract of three years, $6 million. Read more »
The Rangers have officially replaced both Anton Stralman and Raphael Diaz, signing UFA defensemen Dan Boyle and Mike Kostka. Boyle got two years and $4.5 million per year, with a no-movement clause (relatively pointless). Boyle’s #fancystats aren’t terrible, but he’s been exploited a few times for losing his foot speed. The cap hit isn’t terrible, but the second year might hurt them. At the very least, he will help the powerplay.
Kostka will take Diaz’s place as the #7 defenseman, taking a one-year deal at $650,000.
Free agency is upon us, and teams that were not allowed to talk specific contract details will find a way to work out extremely complicated contracts within minutes of free agency opening. The Rangers have four key guys headed to free agency, with three likely on their way out. We summarized those here. We will be live-blogging the free agency signings, with moves made by the Rangers in bold. Discuss anything you want, keep it civil.
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Per Darren Dreger, the Rangers will be among five teams that will submit a two-year offer for Dan Boyle. Submitting a multi-year offer for a 35+ player is incredibly risky, especially when it looked like Boyle lost a step this year with San Jose. The Rangers need to get some more physicality into their game, but not at the expense of speed. I’d be wary of this one at even strength, but Boyle can still put up points with the man advantage. He may need sheltered minutes though.